The Library of Congress recently announced the appointment of Emory University English professor Natasha Trethewey as the next poet laureate of the United States.
Trethewey, who will be the 19th poet laureate, succeeds poet Philip Levine and will open the Library of Congress’ literary season with a reading of her work Sept. 13 at the library’s Coolidge Auditorium.
“Natasha Trethewey is an outstanding poet/historian in the mold of Robert Penn Warren, our first poet laureate consultant in poetry,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a press release. “Her poems dig beneath the surface of history—personal or communal, from childhood or from a century ago—to explore the human struggles that we all face.”
Born in Gulfport, Miss., in 1966, Trethewey earned a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia, an M.A. in poetry from Hollins University, and an M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. At Emory University, Trethewey is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing.
Trethewey will reside in the Washington, D.C., area from January-May 2013 and work in the Poets Room of the Poetry and Literature Center, the first time a poet laureate has done so since the inception of the position in 1986.
Her term will coincide with the 75th anniversary of the library’s Poetry and Literature Center and the 1937 establishment of the Consultant-in-Poetry position, which was changed by a federal law in 1986 to Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.
Trethewey also is serving as Poet Laureate of Mississippi. She was named to the position in January for a four-year term and will continue in the position while serving as U.S. poet laureate.
She is the author of three poetry collections–Native Guard, (2006), winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002); and Domestic Work (2000). Her newest collection of poems, Thrall, is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012. Trethewey is also the author of a nonfiction book, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2010).