Trethewey Named US Poet Laureate

"I just have to show you my heart and say thank you"

By Mary Loftus

Trethewey speaking at a lectern

Natasha Trethewey

Bryan Meltz

Emory’s excitement was palpable on June 7 when the Library of Congress announced that the next US poet laureate is Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing Natasha Trethewey.

Trethewey, who lives in Decatur with her husband, Assistant Professor of African American Studies Brett Gadsden, was feted with flowers and toasted with champagne at an impromptu evening gathering in Decatur Square—where she will headline the Decatur Book Festival during Labor Day weekend.

“We’re all standing a little taller because of you, our poet laureate,” said the city’s Mayor Bill Floyd.

“I wish I didn’t tear up at these things,” said Trethewey. “But I just have to show you my heart and say thank you.”

“This is so spontaneous and heartfelt,” said Amy Benson Brown 95PhD, a staff member in the Office of the Provost and a poet herself, standing among the crowd. “For a poet, well, no one knows what we do, by and large. But this whole position was created to foster public awareness of poetry, and Natasha has a chance to make such an impact.”

Trethewey, recipient of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the Lillian Smith Award for her book Native Guard, becomes the nineteenth poet laureate. As the nation’s official poet, she will receive a $35,000 stipend and will reside in Washington, D.C., from January through May 2013, working in the Poets Room of the Poetry and Literature Center.

Look for complete coverage of Trethewey and the appointment in the next issue of Emory Magazine.

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