At 5 PM Meet The Speaker, McKenna Hall room 106
6 PM reading, McKenna Hall Auditorium
7 PM book signing McKenna Hall
Natasha Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, the daughter of poet, professor, and Canadian emigrant Eric Trethewey and social worker Gwendolyn Ann Turnbough. The daughter of a mixed-race marriage, Trethewey experienced her parents’ divorce when she was six. She subsequently spent time in Atlanta, Georgia, with her mother and in New Orleans, Louisiana, with her father. Encouraged to read as a child, Trethewey studied English at the University of Georgia, earned an MA in English and creative writing from Hollins University, and received an MFA in poetry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Trethewey’s first collection, (2000), won the Cave Canem Prize for a first book by an African American poet. explores the lives and jobs of working-class people, particularly black men and women in the South. Based in part on her grandmother’s life, the poems are particularly attuned to the vivid imagery of her characters’ lives and the region itself. The book effortlessly blends free verse and traditional forms, including ballads and sonnets.
Trethewey is adept at combining the personal and the historical in her work. Her second book, (2002), is about a fictional prostitute in New Orleans in the early 1900s. For the book, Trethewey researched the lives of the women in the red-light district, many of whom were mixed-race. She commented that the project combined “the details of my own mixed-race experience in the deep South” with facts about the real women’s lives.
Her third book of poems, (2006), won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. The book contains elegies to her mother, who died while Trethewey was in college, and a sonnet sequence in the voice of a black soldier fighting in the Civil War. Her recent work includes a book of creative non-fiction, (2010), and the poetry collection (2012). The latter book examines historical representations of mixed-race families, focusing on fathers and children, through a series of poems that treat portrait art of the 18th century.
Trethewey’s many honors and awards include ’