Natasha Trethewey (born April 26, 1966) is an American poet who was appointed United States Poet Laureate in June 2012; she began her official duties in September. She won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her 2006 collection Native Guard, and she is the Poet Laureate of Mississippi.
She is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University, where she also directs the Creative Writing Program.
Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi on 26 April 1966, Confederate Memorial Day, to Eric Trethewey and Gwendolyn Ann Turnbough, who were married illegally at the time of her birth, a year before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down ... more »
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Natasha Trethewey Poems
Domestic Work, 1937
All week she's cleaned someone else's house, stared down her own face in the shine of copper--
- New Orleans, November 1910 Four weeks have passed since I left, and still I must write to you of no work. I've worn down
Here, she said, put this on your head. She handed me a hat. you 'bout as white as your dad, and you gone stay like that.
Theories of Time and Space
You can get there from here, though there's no going home.
I was asleep while you were dying. It's as if you slipped through some rift, a hollow
Here, the Mississippi carved its mud-dark path, a graveyard for skeletons of sunken riverboats.
We tell the story every year— how we peered from the windows, shades drawn—
I returned to a stand of pines, bone-thin phalanx
What's left is footage: the hours before Camille,
I am four in this photograph, standing on a wide strip of Mississippi beach,
In 1965 my parents broke two laws of Mississippi; they went to Ohio to marry, returned to Mississippi. They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name
Elegy for the Native Guards
We leave Gulfport at noon; gulls overhead trailing the boat—streamers, noisy fanfare—
Kitchen Maid with Supper at Emmaus, or T...
—after the painting by Diego Velàzquez, ca. 1619 She is the vessels on the table before her:
Overhead, pelicans glide in threes— their shadows across the sand
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
Domestic Work, 1937
All week she's cleaned
someone else's house,
stared down her own face
in the shine of copper--
bottomed pots, polished
wood, toilets she'd pull
the lid to--that look saying
Let's make a change, girl.
But Sunday mornings are hers--
church clothes starched
and hanging, a record spinning
on the console, the whole house
dancing. She raises the shades,
washes the rooms in light,
buckets of water, Octagon soap.
Cleanliness is next to godliness ...
Windows and doors flung wide,
forward and back, neck ...