Pulitzer Prize-winner, Natasha Trethewey was named the 19th U.S. poet laureate on Thursday, according to Reuters. She is the second Southerner to receive this position due to her three collections of poems she has published, so far.
Natasha Trethewey is going to be the 19th poet laureate of the United States, based on the announcement that the Library of Congress made on Thursday. Trethewey has published three volumes of poems and was awarded with a Pulitzer Prize for her work. Her fourth collection, called “Thrall” will be released later this year.
Philip Levine is the American poet who currently holds the title of U.S poet laureate, but Natasha will replace him this fall. The members of the Library of Congress have chosen her because she is an English and creative writing professor at Emory University in Atlanta and she received a Pulitzer Prize for her 2007 collection of poems called “Native Guard”. Trethewey is not famous only for her poetry, but also for the non-fictional book “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” she has also published.
She will thus, be the second poet from the South who is appointed poet laureate. The first one was Robert Penn Warren who received the title in 1944. She is also the first African-American to become poet laureate since Rita Dove in 1993.
Speaking of her work, Librarian of Congress James Billington told the press that Natasha’s poems manage to perfectly illustrate the struggles that all humans face throughout life. Her themes go beyond the historical surface as poems are from the present or from the past.
According to Trethewey’s declaration, great part of her poems has been inspired by her family, especially by the union between her mother and her father. Her parents have been through a lot of struggles to be together as her mother was African American, whereas her father was white. Their relationship took place in the 60s when interracial couples were considered a crime in her native Mississippi.
Natasha will move to Washington D.C. where she will reside from January to May. Poet laureates’ duties have been broadened in the last years as they are responsible of getting more people to read poetry.