UPDATE 6/8/12: Read my interview with U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and her father, Hollins University English professor Eric Trethewey.
Natasha Trethewey, the 2012 Hollins University writer-in-residence, daughter of English professor Eric Trethewey and a 1991 graduate of the Hollins Master’s in Creative Writing program, has been named the U.S. Poet Laureate. This past February the Hollins Theater Department performed an original play, “Bellocq’s Ophelia,” adapted from her poetry collection of the same name.
Here’s more from the Associate Press:
WASHINGTON — A Pulitzer Prize winner is the nation’s first poet laureate to hail from the South since the initial one — Robert Penn Warren — was named by the Library of Congress in 1986.
Natasha Trethewey, 46, an English and creative writing professor at Emory University in Atlanta and Hollins University’s Louis D. Rubin Writer-in-Residence for 2012, will be named the 19th poet laureate today. She is also Mississippi’s top poet and will be the first person to serve simultaneously as a state and U.S. laureate.
Trethewey won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her poetry book, “Native Guard.” They focused partly on history that was erased because it was never recorded. She wrote of the Louisiana Native Guard, a black Civil War regiment assigned to guard white Confederate soldiers held on Ship Island off Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.
The Confederate prisoners were later memorialized on the island, but not the black Union soldiers.
A stanza reads:
“Some names shall deck the page of history
“as it is written on stone. Some will not.”
Librarian of Congress James Billington, who chose Trethewey after hearing her read at the National Book Festival in Washington, said her work explores forgotten history and the many human tragedies of the Civil War.
“She’s taking us into history that was never written,” he told The Associated Press. “She takes the greatest human tragedy in American history – the Civil War, 650,000 people killed, the most destructive war of human life for a century – and she takes us inside without preaching.”