Black Writer Gets Second Term as U.S. Poet Laureate

BY Zenitha Prince Special to The Atlanta Voice | 6/28/2013, 6 a.m.
Natasha Trethewey will continue her work as Poet Laureate.

African-American poet Natasha Trethewey has been reappointed to another term as Poet Laureate of the United States, “the nation’s official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans,” according to the Library of Congress.

Trethewey, the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University in Atlanta, is also serving a four-year term as the poet laureate of the state of Mississippi.

“The Library and the country are fortunate Natasha Trethewey will continue her work as Poet Laureate,” Librarian of the U.S. Congress James H. Billington said in a statement. “Natasha’s first term was a resounding success”.

When Billington announced Trethewey as the 19th poet laureate in June 2012, he praised her as “an outstanding poet/historian” whose 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.”

Born in Gulfport, Miss. in 1966, Trethewey graduated from the University of Georgia and earned a master’s degrees in poetry from Hollins University and from the University of Massachusetts.

She is the author of four collections of poetry. Her first, Domestic Work (2000), was selected by former poet laureate Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African-American poet and won both the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry.

In her first term as Poet Laureate, Trethewey made her mark with her “Office Hours” during which she met with the general public in the Library of Congress’ Poetry Room.

For her second term, she plans to travel to U.S. cities to examine how Americans are exploring and expressing societal issues through poetry, and report on her discoveries in a regular feature on the PBS “NewsHour Poetry Series.”