April 17, 2014 Natasha Trethewey Presents Final Lecture as U.S. Poet Laureate, May 14

Press Contact: Donna Urschel, (202) 707-6319
Public Contact: Robert Casper, (202) 707-5394

Natasha Trethewey will conclude her tenure as the 19th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress with an evening lecture in the Coolidge Auditorium on May 14.

The lecture will start at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 14, in the Coolidge on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. A book signing and reception will follow. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets and reservations are not required, but early arrival is strongly recommended.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said “Natasha Trethewey’s final lecture as Poet Laureate marks the conclusion of a remarkable two terms. Throughout that time her commitment and her enthusiasm have elevated the position, and the art.”

In her first term as laureate, from 2012 to 2013, Trethewey spent five months in residency in the Poetry Office at the Library of Congress, meeting with members of the general public. In her second term, from 2013 to 2014, she launched a signature project: a series of on-location reports with the PBS NewsHour called “Where Poetry Lives.” The series has featured poetry programs and workshops with Alzheimer’s patients in Brooklyn, N.Y.; middle-school students in Detroit, Mich.; medical students in Boston, Mass.; and teenagers of the King County Youth Services Center in Seattle, Wash. For more information, visit www.pbs.org/newshour/tag/where-poetry-lives/ External.

The lecture on May 14 will include Trethewey’s reflections on the state of poetry based on her experiences during her office hours and the filming of “Where Poetry Lives.” She also will consider the legacy of poets like Robert Penn Warren on the laureateship; the role of the poet as public intellectual; and the role of poetry in the remembrance of and reckoning with our national past—with particular focus on the 50th anniversary of milestones in the Civil Rights Movement.

When Trethewey was named Poet Laureate in 2012, Billington called her “an outstanding poet/historian in the mold of Robert Penn Warren, our first Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. 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 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).

Her many honors include the Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2012, Trethewey was appointed Poet Laureate of Mississippi, and her term as state laureate has coincided with her laureateship at the Library—a first for the position.

The mission of the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center, under the terms of the bequests that established and support its programs, is to foster and enhance the public's appreciation of literature. To this end, the Center administers the endowed Poetry chair and coordinates an annual literary season of public poetry, fiction and drama readings, performances, lectures and symposia, all sponsored since 1951 by the Library's Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund and the Huntington Fund. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/poetry/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.


PR 14-067
ISSN 0731-3527