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Poetry off the Shelf: Natasha Trethewey

Jeff Etheridge

Tuesday, February 5th, 7:00 PM

Poetry Foundation
61 West Superior Street
Free admission

This event is free on a first come, first served basis. Doors open 30 minutes before a program. Programs typically last one hour.

When she was named the 19th United States Poet Laureate in June, 2012, Natasha Trethewey was among the youngest poets appointed to the post, the first African American since Rita Dove, and the first Southerner since Robert Penn Warren held the office in the 1980s. Born in Gulfport, Mississippi, she is the author of four collections of poetry, including Native Guard, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007, and Thrall, her latest volume of verse. She has also published Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and has a memoir coming out this year. Librarian of Congress James Billington has written that Trethewey’s poems “dig beneath the surface of history—personal and communal, from childhood or from a century ago—to explore the human struggles we all face.” Native Guard, for example, draws its title from an unsung regiment of African American soldiers who were commissioned to watch over Confederate prisoners of war, while some of the poems in Thrall explore mixed-race marriage from both cultural and personal perspectives. Among Trethewey’s many other honors are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Cave Canem Prize for her first collection, Domestic Work. Trethewey holds the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry at Emory University.

Special guest Natalie Richardson of Oak Park, Illinois, will introduce Natasha Tretheway. Seventeen-year-old Natalie is one of five young poets nationwide to be selected for the National Student Poets Program, a partnership between the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. National Student Poets are selected for work that exhibits exceptional creativity, dedication to craft, and promise; they serve for a year as national poetry ambassadors.

Co-sponsored with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

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