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Poet Laureate to Give Seminar, Read Poems at Georgetown

Natasha Trethewey  

Natasha Trethewey, the Library of Congress’ 19th poet laureate consultant in poetry, won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her poetry work Native Guard.

March 24, 2014 – The Library of Congress’ 19th poet laureate consultant in poetry, Natasha Trethewey, will be at Georgetown March 25 for a seminar and reading as part of the Lannan Center’s Readings and Talks Series.

Trethewey, who became poet laureate in 2012, is serving her second term in the post.

“We're thrilled to host Natasha Trethewey, whose poetry is a rare fusion of personal lyric and historical excavation,” says Carolyn Forché, director of the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice and professor in Georgetown College's English department. “Writing out of her experience as a mixed-race child, she is fearless in her explorations of colonialism, captivity and survival.”

English department faculty members run the center and its Readings and Talks Series.

Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Miss., in 1966 to a white father and an African-American mother who were married illegally at the time. It wasn’t until a year later that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws with Loving v. Virginia.

Tragic Past

The poet laureate is the author of four collections of poetry: Domestic Work, Bellocq's Ophelia, and Native Guard, for which she was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, and Thrall. She is also the author of a book of creative non-fiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The poet’s mother helped inspire Native Guard, which Trethewey dedicated to her memory. Her parents divorced when she was young, and her stepfather murdered her mother when Trethewey was a teenager.

Trethewey went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Georgia, an M.A. in poetry from Hollins University and an M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and to work through her experiences in her writing.

Exploring Human Struggles

From 2005-2006, she served as the Lehman Brady Joint Chair Professor of Documentary and American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and from 2009-2010 served as the James Weldon Johnson Fellow in African American Studies at Yale University's Beinecke Library.

She is currently the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University.

“[Trethewey’s] 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,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said when she was appointed to her first term.

The seminar will take place at 5:30 p.m. in New North 408 at the English department’s Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, a literary, critical and pedagogical undertaking devoted to poetry and poetics in the contemporary world. Trethewey will read her poems at 8 p.m. in Copley Formal Lounge.

The center’s Lannan Readings and Talks Series is a yearlong program that brings poets from across the literary and literal world to discuss and share their work.

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