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Gulfport native appointed 19th U.S. poet laureate

Mississippians continue to excel in arts and letters. The appointment of Natasha Trethewey as the 19th U.S. poet laureate is another reason for us to be proud of the state’s rich literary legacy; made sweeter because it’s not confined to the past but is a current and ongoing tradition. She will begin her duties in the fall in Washington, D.C., and continue through May 2013. In this position she follows a line of literary luminaries that includes Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.

Trethewey was born in Gulfport and is also serving as Mississippi’s poet laureate, an appointment by former Gov. Haley Barbour through an adjudication facilitated by the Mississippi Arts Commission. She will be the first person to serve simultaneously as a state and a U.S. poet laureate.

“I can say, without a shadow of doubt, that Natasha was the ideal selection for this honor,” said Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission. “She has an amazing gift; not only her talent, but she is incredibly gracious, and will serve both positions with the utmost professionalism.”

Trethewey is the author of three poetry collections, including Native Guard, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; Bellocq’s Ophelia, and Domestic Work. Her newest collection of poems, Thrall, will be released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt later this year. She also wrote a nonfiction book, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The poet earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Georgia, a master’s in poetry from Hollins University, and a master’s of fine art from the University of Massachusetts. She has taught at Duke University, the University of North Carolina and at Yale University. She is presently the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University. She has been awarded numerous honors and fellowships, including the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and a Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts for Literature.

>> Native Guard

By Natasha Trethewey

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

$14.95 paperback, $22.00 hardback


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About Lynn Lofton

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