Trethewey, the daughter of Hollins English professor Eric Trethewey, is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University in Atlanta and served as the 2012 Louis D. Rubin Writer-in-Residence at Hollins. The Hollins Theatre staged an adaptation of her book of poems, “Bellocq’s Ophelia,”earlier this year.
Trethewey is a native of Gulfport, MS and earned her Master of Arts degree in English and creative writing from Hollins in 1991. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007 for her collection, “Native Guard,” which pays tribute to African American soldiers who were stationed near the city during the Civil War. She has garnered numerous other prestigious writing awards and was named Mississippi’s Poet Laureate in January, a four-year appointment she will continue to hold.
Trethewey, the 19th U.S. Poet Laureate, will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season with a reading of her work on Thursday, September 13.
In announcing the appointment, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, said, “Natasha Trethewey is an outstanding poet/historian in the mold of Robert Penn Warren, our first Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Her poems dig beneath the surface of history—personal or communal, from childhood or from a century ago—to explore the human struggles that we all face.”
Trethewey succeeds Philip Levine as Poet Laureate and joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position including W. S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Rita Dove.
She is the author of three poetry collections, including “Native Guard,” (2006), winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; “Bellocq’s Ophelia” (2002); and “Domestic Work” (2000). Her newest collection of poems, “Thrall,” is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012. Trethewey is the author of a nonfiction book, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” (2010).
The Poet Laureate is selected for a one-year term by the Librarian of Congress. The choice is based on poetic merit alone and has included a wide variety of poetic styles.
Photo by Jon Rou