Natasha Trethewey M.A. ’91 has been awarded the 2016 Fellowship for Distinguished Poetic Achievement from the Academy of American Poets.
The Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University and former U.S. poet laureate will receive a $25,000 prize.
The fellowship has been presented annually since 1946 to a single poet, and was the first award of its kind in the United States. Previous winners include Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Frost, and Ezra Pound.
“Natasha Trethewey’s poems plumb personal and national history to meditate on the conundrum of American racial identities,” said Marilyn Nelson, chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. “Whether writing of her complex family torn by tragic loss, or in diverse imagined voices from the more distant past, Trethewey encourages us to reflect, learn, and experience delight. The wide scope of her interests and her adept handling of form have created an opus of classics both elegant and necessary.”
Trethewey’s works include Native Guard (2006), winner of the 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.
Trethewey was inducted in 2013 into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2012 was named the state poet laureate of Mississippi. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study Center, and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.