Natasha Trethewey

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Natasha TretheweyBorn in Gulfport, Mississippi, Natasha Trethewey is both the 19th United States Poet Laureate and the State Poet of Mississippi. Trethewey’s first collection of poetry, Domestic Work, received the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African American poet. Trethewey has received numerous fellowships, including those from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study Center and her 2007 collection, Native Guard, won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Her work has appeared in journals and anthologies, including Callaloo, Kenyon Review, and The Best American Poetry. She is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University where she also directs the Creative Writing Program.


Miscegenation

In 1965 my parents broke two laws of Mississippi;
they went to Ohio to marry, returned to Mississippi.

They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name
begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong—mis in Mississippi.

A year later they moved to Canada, followed a route the same
as slaves, the train slicing the white glaze of winter, leaving Mississippi.

Faulkner’s Joe Christmas was born in winter, like Jesus, given his name
for the day he was left at the orphanage, his race unknown in Mississippi.

My father was reading War and Peace when he gave me my name.
I was born near Easter, 1966, in Mississippi.

When I turned 33 my father said, It’s your Jesus year—you’re the same
age he was when he died
. It was spring, the hills green in Mississippi.

I know more than Joe Christmas did. Natasha is a Russian name—
though I’m not; it means Christmas child, even in Mississippi.


From Native Guard (Mariner Books, 2007)



Media

Seminar | March 25, 2014

Reading | March 25, 2014