Natasha Trethewey appointed to second term as U.S. poet laureate

Natasha Trethewey has been appointed to a second term as U.S. Poet Laureate.
(Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press)

The Library of Congress announced Monday that the U.S. poet laureate, Natasha Trethewey, has been appointed to a second one-year term.

Trethewey celebrated the end of her first term with a reading at the Library of Congress, which she compared to a Southern revivalist church service. “What do they see when they come inside?” she asked her native Mississippi’s Clarion Ledger. “A glorious celebration and somebody giving their testimony about why they came to the church or to God... I wanted to give a poetry testimonial. I wanted to say, ‘This is why it means something to me. This is what changed my life.’”

The Pulitzer Prize winner is also currently serving a four-year term as poet laureate of Mississippi, making her the first person to serve as poet laureate of country and state. She also teaches English and Creative Writing at Emory University in Atlanta.


In her second term, which will begin in September, Trethewey plans to create a series of reports on poetry and society in collaboration with PBS’s NewsHour and newsman Jeffrey Brown.

While Trethewey conducted the duties of her first term as poet laureate primarily in Washington, D.C., during her second she will bring her experience of poetry beyond the capitol. She plans to visit places she feels a personal connection to, considering the possibility of visiting women’s shelters, since her mother was a victim of domestic abuse; prisons and juvenile detention centers, since her brother served time; and areas that have been hit by disaster, since her family was affected by Hurricane Katrina. In her travels, Trethewey intends to meet with members of the general public as she did in the Library of Congress by holding “Office Hours on the Road.”

Trethewey won the Pulitzer for her 2006 collection “Native Guard.” Her most recent collection is “Thrall,” published in 2012. She is working on a memoir about growing up as the daughter of a white father and black mother in the American South (she was born in 1966, when anti-miscegenation laws were still on the books). It will be out next year from HarperCollins.


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