Natasha Trethewey

Very cool that Natasha Trethewey won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Native Guard. For those of us who've been around the poetry scene, it's very neat to see the daughter of Eric Trethewey come very much into her own as a mature, full-voiced poet.

This semester I'm teaching a class on contemporary African-American poetry, and we studied her wonderful book, Bellocq's Ophelia; I didn't order Native Ground because it was only available in hard cover (I had my students buy seven books of poetry by living Black American authors, and I didn't want to set them back too far), and I have a prejudice in setting aside books of poetry by small independent publishers. Those big media corporate publishers, such as Houghton Mifflin, publish poetry only to give themselves "street" cred in producing "serious" literature. I'd rather give my support to Graywolf, Copper Canyon, Anhinga, WordTech, Steel-Toed Boots, etc.

Anyway, my students responded enthusiastically to Trethewey's poetry, her building a narrative around both sonnets and free verse meditations, as well as her rather complex and fluid views surrounding identity.

On a side note, I was also rooting for David Wojahn for Interrogation Palace, who had been very generous to me at Indiana University. I actually never took a class from David, but he sat on my dissertation committee and gave me exceptional advice and assistance.


January said…
As you know, Natasha won the Cave Canem prize a few years ago, so CC is especially proud of Natasha's accomplishments.

Who else are you teaching in your contemporary African-American poetry class? Sounds like a great course.
jim said…
I forgot to mention that she's super-super smart, way smart, too smart.

Oh, as for the others, mostly the usual suspects: Kevin Young, Terrance Hayes, Elizabeth Alexander, Allison Joseph, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Rita Dove. (The latter two give the students opportunities for research papers.)

In the future, I'm going to make a habit of it getting one or two of the most recent CC prize winners.

Anyway, what's cool is the students are now creating their own contemporary anthologies, and I can't wait to see what poets they uncover--I'm always being introduced to new poets that way.