United States Poet Laureate (2012-2014) and Pulitzer Prize Winner Natasha Trethewey
April 20, 2023 | 6:00 pm
This event is co-sponsored by Appalachian Journal and The Schaefer Center Presents series
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States (2012-2014). In his citation, Librarian of Congress James Billington wrote, “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 was the first Southerner to receive the honor since Robert Penn Warren, in 1986, and the first African-American since Rita Dove, in 1993.
Trethewey is the author of Monument (2018), which was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award, a retrospective drawing together verse that delineates the stories of working class African American women, a mixed-race prostitute, one of the first black Civil War regiments, mestizo and mulatto figures in Casta paintings, Gulf coast victims of Katrina; Thrall (2012), which the Washington Post called “a powerful, beautifully crafted book;” Native Guard (2007), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize; Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), named a Notable Book for 2003 by the American Library Association; and Domestic Work (2000), which was selected by Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African American poet and won both the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry. Trethewey is also the author of the poetry chapbook Congregation (2015) and the prose book Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2012), and she served as editor of The Best American Poetry 2017. She is also the author of the memoir Memorial Drive (2020).
Among her many honors, Trethewey is the recipient of the 2020 Bobbitt Prize for Lifetime Achievement, a 2017 Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities category, as well as the 2016 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, which recognizes distinguished poetic achievement. In the judge’s citation, Marilyn Nelson stated: “Natasha Trethewey’s poems plumb personal and national history to meditate on the conundrum of American racial identities. 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 has also received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study Center, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. In 2013 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. At Northwestern University she is a Board of Trustees Professor of English in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.
In her second term as United States Poet Laureate, Trethewey’s signature project was a PBS NewsHour Poetry Series, “Where Poetry Lives.” In this series, Trethewey traveled with Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Brown to cities across the United States in order to explore societal issues such as Alzheimer’s, domestic abuse, the civil rights movement, and incarcerated teenagers—all through the prism of poetry, literature, and Trethewey’s own personal experiences.
In addition to being United States Poet Laureate, she held the position of State Poet Laureate of Mississippi from 2012-2016.
Poems, articles, audio, video resources: https://blueflowerarts.com/artist/natasha-trethewey
“Trethewey has a genuine gift for verse forms, and the depth of her engagement in language marks her as a true poet.” —Washington Post
“Trethewey’s writing mines the cavernous isolation, brutality, and resilience of African American history, tracing its subterranean echoes to today.”—New Yorker
“Natasha Trethewey’s poems plumb personal and national history to meditate on the conundrum of American racial identities.” —Marilyn Nelson
FREE and open to the public
Thursday, April 20
Book signing and book sales to follow
Plemmons Student Union 201 AB, Blue Ridge Ballroom
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Susan Weinberg at firstname.lastname@example.org
PARKING is free on campus after 5pm. We recommend the College Street Deck (from King Street, turn down College Street at the First Baptist Church). To reach the Student Union, cross College Street and follow the walkway between the chiller plant and the University Bookstore, passing the Post Office and entering the Student Union on the second floor. For further parking information or a map, please see www.parking.appstate.edu.
ABOUT THE VISITING WRITERS SERIES
The Visiting Writers Series is named in honor of the late Hughlene Bostian Frank (class of 1968), a 2013 Appalachian Alumni Association Outstanding Service award recipient, past member of Appalachian’s Board of Trustees and ASU Foundation, long time member of the College of Arts and Sciences Advancement Board and generous supporter of Appalachian State University.
- The Gideon Ridge Inn
- Hellbender Bed and Beverage
- Appalachian Journal
- Appalachian State University Foundation, Inc.
- Appalachian’s Office of Academic Affairs
- Belk Library
- College of Arts and Sciences
- Department of English
- The Schaefer Center Presents
- University Bookstore
- Thomas McLaughlin
- Alice Naylor
- Paul and Judy Tobin