April 11, 2013 (REVISED April 18, 2013) Poet Laureate to Lecture May 1 on "Necessary Utterance: Poetry as Cultural Force"

Natasha Trethewey Also to Host Afternoon Reading by Award-Winning Poets

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Natasha Trethewey will conclude her year as U.S. Poet Laureate with a lecture on “Necessary Utterance: Poetry as Cultural Force” in the evening of Wednesday, May 1. The same topic will be explored in a reading that afternoon by five award-winning poets.

The poets were chosen to participate by Trethewey, who will introduce the afternoon program. The poets will include Marilyn Chin, Brenda Shaughnessy, Patricia Smith, Brian Turner and Kevin Young. They will read from their own work. The reading is presented in collaboration with the literary magazine Virginia Quarterly Review, which features Trethewey as a contributing editor.

The reading will take place at 4 p.m. and Trethewey’s lecture at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1. Both events are in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center. Tickets are not needed. A reception and book signing for all the featured authors will follow Trethewey’s lecture.

The two-part program emerges from Trethewey’s vision that poems have “the power to influence us, to affect us deeply by touching not only the intellect but also the heart.” Trethewey said the poets she selected for the afternoon reading “approach the making and appreciation of poems in rich and diverse ways.”

Trethewey is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University in Atlanta. She is the author of four poetry collections, including “Thrall” (2012), “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). In addition to the Pulitzer, her many honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is also serving a four-year appointment as Mississippi Poet Laureate.

Chin is the author of four collections of poetry and a novel. She is the recipient of many honors, including fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Chin’s work has been awarded the PEN/Josephine Miles Award as well as the Patterson Prize. She has made several translations of Chinese and Japanese poetry, and currently co-directs the MFA program at San Diego State University.

Shaughnessy is the author of three collections of poetry, including most recently “Our Andromeda.” Her second collection, “Human Dark with Sugar,” received the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. She has received a Bunting fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard. Shaughnessy is the poetry editor-at-large for Tin House and serves as an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University.

Smith is the author of six collections of poetry and a children’s book. She is also a recognized performer of poetry. She is a four-time champion of the National Poetry Slam and has appeared in “Slamnation” as well as the popular HBO series “Def Poetry Jam.” Smith is a faculty member for Cave Canem, a writer’s center for African American poets; a professor of English at City University of New York/College of Staten Island; and a faculty member of the Sierra Nevada MFA program.

Turner is the author of two collections of poetry, “Phantom Noise” and “Here, Bullet.” A former soldier in the Iraq War, Turner’s writing has been lauded by the Washington Post for its unflinching ability to show “soldiers who are invincible and wounded, a nation noble and culpable, and a war by turns necessary and abominable.” His honors include a New York Times “Editor’s Choice” selection, a Lannan Literary Fellowship and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Young is the author of seven collections of poetry and a book of criticism and the editor of seven anthologies. His honors include an American Book Award, a Stegner Fellowship, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Young currently serves as the Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English as well as Curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University.

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 Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry), 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 www.loc.gov.


PR 13-073
ISSN 0731-3527