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Natasha Trethewey Books In Order

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Publication Order of Collections

Domestic Work: Poems (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Bellocq's Ophelia (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Native Guard (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Thrall: Poems (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Congregation, Poems (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Monument: Poems New and Selected (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Best American Poetry Books

The Best American Poetry 2003 (By: Anna Ziegler) (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Best American Poetry 2005 (By: Paul Muldoon) (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Best American Poetry 2016 (By: Edward Hirsch) (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Why I Write Books

Devotion (By: Patti Smith) (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
Inadvertent (By: Karl Ove Knausgård) (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
For Now (By: Eileen Myles) (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
The House of Being (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The New Young American Poets(2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out(2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
American Journal(2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Natasha Tretheway is an American novelist and poet who won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for “Native Guard” her 2006 poetry collection. She is the Robert W Woodruff Professor of Creative Writing and English at Emory University, where she is also the Creative Writing Program director. Tretheway was born in 1966 in Gulfport, Mississippi which was Confederate Memorial Day. She was born to an interracial couple Gwendolyn Ann Turnbough and Eric Tretheway, whose relationship and marriage were illegal at the time. She was born just a year before the anti-miscegenation laws were struck down by the US Supreme Court. Her birth certificate indicated her father’s race as Canadian and her mother as colored. Her mother was a part of the inspiration for her debut work “Native Guard,” given that she was a social worker. When she was still young, her parents got a divorce and then in 1985, her mother was killed by her second husband that she had just divorced. Natasha, who was then a nineteen-year-old, recalls that her reaction to her mother’s death was a determination to become a poet. She thought it was through poetry that she could better understand and articulate her sense of loss and the horror. Tretheway who is a Hollins University professor of English is also a poet.

As a teen, Natasha Tretheway went to the University of Georgia where she graduated with a bachelor’s in English. She then went to Hollins University for a master’s in Creative Writing and English. In 1995, she graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with an MFA in poetry. In May 2010, she was invited to deliver the inaugural speech at Hollins University before being awarded a titular degree. This was another feather in her cap after she got another honorary doctorate from Delta State University in Mississippi. Her work combines more structured conventional forms like the villanelle and the sonnet with free verse. As for her themes, she is usually concerned with the racial legacy and memory of the United States. A good example of this is the 2002 published collection “Bellocq’s Ophelia,” which is structured as an epistolary novella. It is a work of fiction that tells of an EJ Belocq photograph of a mixed-race prostitute taken in the early 20th century in the Big Easy. Tretheway also likes to write about the American Civil War which is no surprise for a person born on Confederate Memorial Day. This meant that she was fascinated with the Civil war and learned a lot about what it stood for. For instance, her debut novel “Native Guard” is the story of an all-black regiment named the Louisiana Native Guards of the Union Army whose membership consisted mostly of former enlisted slaves.

Natasha Tretheway was named 19th US Poet Laureate in 2012 by the Librarian of Congress James Billington. The librarian asserted that he was struck by the variety and richness of structure and the classic quality of her work that he heard at the National Book Festival. Natasha writes her story by placing it in history and then spices it up by incorporating the human tragedy of it. Unlike most laureate poets, Tretheway is just coming into the mid of her career. In 2013, she settled in Washington DC becoming the first laureate to live in the city. She concluded her second term as US Poet Laureate in 2014. Over the years, she has been the recipient of many awards including the Excellence in the Arts Mississippi Governor’s Award in addition to being named Georgia Woman of the Year in 2008. Natasha is an inductee into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame and the Fellowship of Southern Writers. She has also been the 19th US Poet Laureate between 2012 and 2014 and between 2012 and 2016 was the Mississippi Poet Laureate. She has also been honored with a Fellowship at the Academy of American Poets. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Northwestern University.

“Memorial Drive” by Natasha Tretheway is set some three decades after the death of her mother who was killed by her ex-husband. The author documents the painful, arduous, and long process of reclaiming what she had with her mother before she was brutally murdered. These are memories she had or years left to lie dormant to protect herself from the pain. In the work, she talks about her mother in a style that we have come to expect from the inimitable Natasha Tretheway. This is not the story of the mother or your usual memoir but rather an insightful look into her mother’s marriages, the relationship they had, the death of her mother, and how she came to be a writer and poet. She was the result of a marriage that was then criminal in Mississippi with her mother being a black woman and her father a Caucasian man from Canada. But for the most part, the relatives on her mother’s side did not have a problem with her mother’s marriage choices. Over several years, Natasha had drifted away from her parents and was surprised to learn that they had become estranged separated, and then divorced. However, both parents remained loving and supportive as far as she could remember.

Natasha Tretheway’s “Native Guard” is the Pulitzer award-winning collection of poetry that tells of the reality of life in the south. The collection is divided into three sections even though it is a slim but poignant piece of work. The third and first sections focus on her parents’ divorce and marriage, the relationships the author had with the neighbors and the community which was colored by the fact that she was biracial, and the contemporary take on what the situation is like in Mississippi. She kicks off the volume with “The Southern Crescent,” a poem that provides a description of the journey her mother took to California aboard a train. Aged sixteen, she had fled the south as she did not believe she had a bright future there. On the train, she had practiced what she would say and how she would act at the meeting with her future husband while looking at his picture. A few years later, the young Natasha had traveled with her mother to meet her father and recalls the uncertainty of the trip and how her face sank when everything went wrong. Natasha tells of the courage that her mother must have had to continue living in the south as an African American woman.

“Thrall” by Natasha Tretheway is a stunning follow-up to “Native Guard,” the Pulitzer award-winning collection. She writes deeply historical and personal poetry that explores her complicated interracial roots and how they connect to her being American. She is a student of the Deep South and history and a biracial child born to a white father and black mother who finds inspiration from mestizos and mulattos, to the stories of people that history overlooked. Thrall is full of meditations on inheritance, knowledge, and captivity as the author offers reflections on several estrangements that lead her further and further away from her father. She finally comes to understand how as daughter and father, they are part of the history of race in the United States. The collection confirms Tretheway as one of the most necessary and talented and also fearless and brilliant laureates of modern times.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Natasha Trethewey

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