Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced the appointment of Natasha Trethewey as the Library’s Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2012-2013.
Trethewey, the 19th Poet Laureate, will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season with a reading of her work on Thursday, September 13 in the Coolidge Auditorium. Her term will coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center and the 1937 establishment of the Consultant-in-Poetry position, which was changed by a federal law in 1986 to Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.
rethewey succeeds Philip Levine as Poet Laureate and joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position including W. S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Rita Dove.
She is the author of three poetry collections, including “Native Guard,” (2006), winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; “Bellocq’s Ophelia” (2002); and “Domestic Work” (2000). Her newest collection of poems, “Thrall,” is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012. Trethewey is the author of a nonfiction book, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” (2010).
In 2001, Trethewey researched “Native Guard” in the Library’s Manuscript Division and later spent time writing the book in the Library’s Main Reading Room. She has also been featured in two Library of Congress National Book Festivals, in 2004 and 2010. Billington said of her readings, “I heard in her voice a classical quality that can speak to the widest possible audience.”
rethewey’s 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 also received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the Lillian Smith Award for Poetry.
Born in Gulfport, Miss., in 1966, Trethewey earned a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia, an M.A. in poetry from Hollins University, and an M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. From 2005-2006, she was appointed the Lehman Brady Joint Chair Professor of Documentary and American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and 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.
Librarian of Congress Appoints Natasha Trethewey Poet Laureate
Filed by June 7, 2012on