Oklahoma City University News
Pulitzer Prize Winner to Give Reading at OCU
A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet will give presentations at Oklahoma City University at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. April 7 as part of the 12th annual Thatcher Hoffman Smith Poetry Series. The readings are free to the public and will take place in the Kerr McGee Auditorium in the Meinders School of Business at N.W. 27th Street and McKinley Avenue.
Natasha Trethewey won the 2007 Pulitzer for her book “Native Guard.” Her first collection of poetry, “Domestic Work,” was selected by Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African-American poet and won both the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry.
In her introduction to the book, Dove said, "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."
Trethewey writes vivid portrayals of life in the American South. In “Native Guard,” she pays homage to Civil War prisoners of war who fought for the Union army. She also reflects on her own life growing up in an interracial family in Gulfport, Miss., in the 1960s.
Harbour Winn, director of OCU’s Center for Interpersonal Study through Film and Literature, said Trethewey has an eloquent way of sharing her stories about living with the racial tensions in the Deep South.
“She has a profound way of expressing the emotions felt by many in that time and place,” Winn said. “Her words about those experiences contain an important lesson for us all, regardless of where we came from.”
He said the morning reading session will include Trethewey’s in-depth explanations about her poems in relation to the writing process and her life. She will talk about her view of the role of poetry, her role as a poet and the reflective experience of being alive.
“It is more like a conversation with Trethewey,” he added. The evening session will be a more traditional poetry reading.
Trethewey has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study Center, National Endowment for the Arts and the Bunting Fellowship Program at Harvard. Her poems have appeared in such publications as American Poetry Review, Callaloo, Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, New England Review, Gettysburg Review and The Best American Poetry 2000 and 2003. She is currently the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry at Emory University.
The poetry series is sponsored by the Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film and Literature with support from the Petree College of Arts and Sciences, the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Endowment Fund, OCU’s Fine Arts Institute, a grant from the Oklahoma Humanities Council, the Oklahoma Arts Institute, The Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English and Full Circle Bookstore.