Pulitzer Prize winning poet Natasha Trethewey will be featured at Oklahoma City University on April 7, 2010. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her third volume of poetry, Native Guard (2006). Her earlier books are Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), which was named a Notable Book for 2003 by the American Library Association; and Domestic Work (2000), which won the 1999 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study Center, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. Her poems have appeared in such journals and anthologies as American Poetry Review, Callaloo, Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, New England Review, Gettysburg Review, and The Best American Poetry 2000 and 2003. Currently, she is Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry at Emory University.
Born in Gulfport, Mississippi, to a black mother and a white father who had violated state laws against interracial marriage, Trethewey grew up amidst contradictions. When she was with her father, a doctoral student in English at Tulane University in New Orleans, she was thought of as white; when she was with her mother in Gulfport, she was thought of as black. When her parents eventually separated, she would spend the school year with her mother and summers with her father; the sense of inequality and confliction thus continued to form within her. Growing up in a South still segregated by custom, if not by law, her life astride the color line has inspired her recovery of lost histories, public and private. In short and polished poems, she eloquently grapples with the dualities and oppositions that define her personal history and her region’s, the American South that belongs to all Americans. Trethewey's poems about cultural memory and ethnic identity memorialize and elegize those easily forgotten whether they be domestic workers from earlier times, black Union Army soldiers in Gulfport in the Civil War, or her own mother who suffered a violent death.
Her first collection of poetry, Domestic Work, was singled our for praise by former US Poet Laureate Rita Dove. In her introduction to the book, Dove writes, “’People are trapped in history,’ James Baldwin has said, ‘and history is trapped in them.’ Natasha Trethewey takes up this double-edged sword and, like the fabled knights of yore, goes forth to engage the world.” Dove continues, “Trethewey eschews the Polaroid instant, choosing to render the unsuspecting yearnings and tremulous hopes that accompany our most private thoughts—reclaiming for us that interior life where the true self flourishes and to which we return, in solitary reverie, for strength."
Join us for one of our country’s most talented young poets and one of its most eloquent communicators. Trethewey will be on campus to read some of her poems, talk about her writing process, and respond to questions at a 10:00 AM session on April 7. She will read her poetry at an 8:00 PM session. Both will be in the Kerr McGee Auditorium of the Meinders School of Business, at NW 27th Street and McKinley. Both sessions are free and open to the public for those who arrive first. Full Circle Bookstore will be at the events selling Trethewey’s books, and she will sign books after both sessions. An Open-Mic Poetry Reading will be held in the Kerr McGee Auditorium from 6:15 PM to 7:30 PM.
Poet will be on campus for Workshop/Poetry Reading on Wednesday, April 07, 2010.