Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Natasha Trethewey  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1966 in Gulfport, Mississippi

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Illinois Connection

Tretheway lives in Evanston.

Biographical and Professional Information

Natasha Trethewey, two-term U.S. Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, and 2017 Heinz Award recipient, has written four collections of poetry and one book of nonfiction. An American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow, she is currently Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University.

She has also been inducted into both the Fellowship of Southern Writers and the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.

Link to Natasha Trethewey's poem, "Domestic Work, 1937" at the Poetry 180 Project page at the Library of Congress site -


Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature, 2018 Heinz Award in Arts and Humanities, 2017 PEN Oakland – Josephine Miles Literary Award, 2015 United States Poet Laureate, 2012, 2014 Poet Laureate of Mississippi, 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, 2007 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prizes, 2001, 2003, 2007 Lillian Smith Book Award, 2001, 2007

Domestic Work, 1937

-- Cave Canem Foundation Poetry Prize, 1999 - First African American poet to win

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability: No.

Selected Titles At Your Library

Bellocq's Ophelia :
ISBN: 1555973590. OCLC Number: 49381405

Graywolf Press,. .

A collection of poems offers glimpses into the life and thoughts of an African American prostitute in pre-World War I New Orleans.

Beyond Katrina :
ISBN: 0820343110. OCLC Number: 777192012

. .

"Trethewey spent her childhood in Gulfport, where much of her mother's extended family, including her younger brother, still lives. As she worked to understand the devastation that followed the hurricane, Trethewey found inspiration in Robert Penn Warren's book Segregation: The Inner Conflict in the South, in which he spoke with southerners about race in the wake of the Brown decision, capturing an event of wide impact from multiple points of view. Weaving her own memories with the experiences of family, friends, and neighbors, Trethewey traces the erosion of local culture and the rising economic dependence on tourism and casinos. She chronicles decades of wetland development that exacerbated the destruction and portrays a Gulf Coast whose citizens--particularly African Americans--were on the margins of American life well before the storm hit."--Publisher description.

Congregation :
ISBN: 1928755240. OCLC Number: 885055875

. .

Congregation is ... a "love letter to the Gulf Coast, a praise song, a dirge, invocation and benediction, a requiem for the Gulf coast." Here are the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Katrina, speaking to her with the folk wisdom, and faith, of the survivor. "Without faith, we is victims," one church marquee proclaims, and another, with a different kind of eloquence, "God is not / the author of fear."--Page iii.

Domestic work :
ISBN: 1555973094. OCLC Number: 45017709

Graywolf Press,. .

From sonnets and traditional ballads to free verses shot through with the syncopated attitude of blues, these poems tells the story of black women's work.

Monument :
ISBN: 132850784X. OCLC Number: 1016633235

. .

"Layering joy and urgent defiance--against physical and cultural erasure, against white supremacy whether intangible or graven in stone--Natasha Trethewey's work gives pedestal and witness to unsung icons. Monument, her first retrospective volume, draws together verses that delineate the stories of working-class African American women, a mixed-race prostitute, one of the first black Civil War regiments, mestizo and mulatto figures in casta paintings, Gulf Coast victims of Hurricane Katrina. Through the collection, inlaid and inextricable, winds the poet's own family history of upheaval and loss, resilience and love ... As a whole, Monument casts new light on the trauma of our national wounds, our shared history. This is a poet's remarkable labor to source evidence, persistence, and strength from the past in order to change the very vocabulary we use to speak about race, gender, and our collective future"--

Native guard /
ISBN: 0618872655. OCLC Number: 123416531

. .

These poems explore the complex memory of the American South, history that belongs to all Americans. The sequence forming the spine of the collection follows the ''Native Guard'', one of the first black regiments mustered into service in the Civil War. In the author's hometown of Gulfport, Mississippi, a plaque honors Confederate POWs, but there is no memorial to these vanguard Union soldiers. This collection is both a pilgrimage and an elegy, as the author employs a variety of poetic forms to create a lyrical monument to these forgotten voices. Interwoven are poems honoring her mother and recalling her fraught childhood; her parents' interracial marriage was still illegal in 1966 in Mississippi. This book is a narrative caught in the intersections of public and personal testament. As Rita Dove proclaimed, "Here is a young poet in full possession of her craft."

Thrall :
ISBN: 9780544586208. OCLC Number: 898052984

. .

Charting the intersections of public and personal history, Thrall explores the historical, cultural, and social forces that determine the roles to which a mixed-race daughter and her white father are consigned. In a brilliant series of poems about the taxonomies of mixed unions, Natasha Trethewey creates a fluent and vivid backdrop to her own familial predicament. While tropes about captivity, bondage, knowledge, and enthrallment permeate the collection, Trethewey unflinchingly examines our shared past by reflecting on her history of small estrangements and by confronting the complexities of race and the deeply ingrained and unexamined notions of racial difference in America.--Publisher description.