Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Emory University professor Natasha Trethewey has been named the 2012-13 U.S. poet laureate by the Library of Congress.

She will officially take up her duties in September, about the time her fourth poetry collection, Thrall, is due to be published.

Trethewey, 46, was born in Gulfport, Miss., and becomes the first U.S. poet laureate from the South since Robert Penn Warren (1944-45) and the first African-American named since Rita Dove (1993-95). She’s also poet laureate of Mississippi.

Trethewey, who teaches English and creative writing at Emory, won a 2007 Pulitzer for her poetry collection Native Guard, which is set just off the coast of Gulfport and was inspired by the Louisiana Native Guards, the first sanctioned regiment of black Union soldiers in the Civil War stationed there.

Her other works are:

  • Domestic Work, a 2000 collection of poetry.
  • Bellocq’s Ophelia, a 2002 collection of poetry.
  • Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a 2010 nonfiction collection of poetry, essays and letters.

The position of U.S. poet laureate is largely ceremonial, but is intended to champion poetry as an art form and emphasize its importance in the daily lives of Americans. Often the person selected establishes a program to promote the reading, writing and performance of poetry.



About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich is a longtime arts journalist who has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. She's a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Americans for the Arts and the National Arts Marketing Project. Full disclosure: She’s also an artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre.

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