Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91 is the recipient of the 22nd Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, honoring her achievements as a poet and writer.
Established by Teresa Heinz in 1993 to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Senator John Heinz, the Heinz Awards recognize outstanding individuals for their contributions in the areas of Arts and Humanities, Environment, Human Condition, Public Policy, and Technology, the Economy and Employment. Nominations are submitted by invited experts, who serve anonymously, and are reviewed by an independent panel of jurors appointed by the Heinz Family Foundation, which administers the awards. The jury makes recommendations to the Board of Directors, which subsequently selects the award recipients. Each winner receives a cash prize of $250,000.
Trethewey’s works include Native Guard, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in poetry, and three other poetry collections: Thrall (2012), Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), and Domestic Work (2000). Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a book of creative nonfiction, was published in 2010. She served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 2012 to 2014, and in that role worked with the PBS NewsHour on Where Poetry Lives, a special series that looked at societal issues through poetry. She became Northwestern University’s Board of Trustees Professor of English this month after 16 years at Emory University.
“Trethewey’s artistry in weaving her compelling personal life story with southern history, and her work as a professor and mentor, continue to impact and broaden the influence of poetry in the lives of Americans young and old,” said the Heinz Family Foundation. “[Her] exquisitely crafted works intertwine personal and public histories of loss, grief, joy, and hope.”
In 2012, Trethewey was named the state poet laureate of Mississippi, and the following year she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2016, she was awarded the Fellowship for Distinguished Poetic Achievement by the Academy of American Poets.
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