The Pulitzer Prize winner is the nation’s first poet laureate to hail from the South since the initial one – Robert Penn Warren – in 1986. She is also Mississippi’s top poet and will be the first person to serve simultaneously as a state and U.S. laureate.
Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her book of poems, “Native Guard,” Trethewey 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.
Here’s one of her poems: Providence.
|by Natasha Trethewey|
What's left is footage: the hours before Camille, 1969—hurricane parties, palm trees leaning in the wind, fronds blown back, a woman's hair. Then after: the vacant lots, boats washed ashore, a swamp where graves had been. I recall how we huddled all night in our small house, moving between rooms, emptying pots filled with rain. The next day, our house— on its cinderblocks—seemed to float in the flooded yard: no foundationbeneath us, nothing I could see tying us to the land. In the water, our reflection trembled, disappeared when I bent to touch it.
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