August 15, 2012 Natasha Trethewey to Give Inaugural Reading As U.S. Poet Laureate, Sept. 13

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Rob Casper (202) 707-5394

Natasha Trethewey, a poet-historian who gives voice to the forgotten with clarity and beauty, will give her inaugural reading as the 19th Poet Laureate Consultant to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 13.

The reading, which will open the Library’s 2012-2013 literary season and kick off the 75th anniversary of the Poetry and Literature Center, will start at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13, in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The reading is free and open to the public, and a book-signing and reception will follow. Tickets are not needed, but early arrival is strongly recommended.

Librarian of Congress James Billington—speaking to the Washington Post—said Trethewey “inter-mixes her story with the historical story in a way that takes you deep into the human tragedy of it. It is her ability to weave the present and the past, to engage the public and the personal, and to give language to the unsaid that makes Trethewey’s poems of such lasting import.”

Trethewey is a professor of English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta. She is the author of four poetry collections, including her newest, “Thrall,” which will be published at the end of August and will be available at the reading; “Native Guard” (2006), winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; “Bellocq’s Ophelia” (2002); and “Domestic Work” (2000). She is also the author of a nonfiction book “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” (2010).

According to the New York Times, Trethewey has “devoted much of her career to resurrecting or recreating the histories of people who don’t often make it into poetry books.” The newspaper said her poems explore “the way private recollection and public history sometimes intersect but more often diverge.”

Trethewey also is the Poet Laureate of Mississippi, which holds a four-year term, and will continue in the position while serving as U.S. Poet Laureate. Her other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study Center and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She has received the Book Prize from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters and the Lillian Smith Award for Poetry.

Born in Gulfport, Miss., in 1966, Trethewey earned a bachelor’s in English from the University of Georgia; a master’s in poetry from Hollins University; and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. From 2005-2006, she was named the Lehman Brady Joint Chair Professor of Documentary and American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina. From 2009-2010, she was the James Weldon Johnson Fellow in African American Studies at the Beinecke Library at Yale University. At Emory University, Trethewey is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing.

The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress fosters and enhances the public’s appreciation of literature. The center administers the endowed poetry chair (the U.S. Poet Laureate), and coordinates an annual literary season of poetry, fiction and drama readings, performances, lectures and symposia, sponsored by the Library’s Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund and the Huntington Fund. For more information, visit


PR 12-152
ISSN 0731-3527