WAMU 88.5 : The Diane Rehm Show

U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey

U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey was born in Mississippi, 100 years to the day after Confederate Memorial Day was established. Her mother was black, her father is white. Their marriage was against the law in the state. Her poetry explores the interplay of race and memory in her life and in American history. The past she mines is often unsettling: growing up biracial in the deep south of the 1960s, the lives of forgotten African-American Civil War soldiers, her mother’s murder and the legacy of slavery. Tretheway is the first poet laureate to move to Washington, D.C., and work out of the Library of Congress since the position was established in 1986. She’s the first southern Poet Laureate since Robert Penn Warren. And she’s the first person to serve simultaneously as the poet laureate of a state –- Mississippi –- and the nation. In 2007, she received a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection, “Native Guard.” Last year, she published a follow-up titled, “Thrall.” She joins Diane to talk about the role of poetry in our everyday lives.

Read An Excerpt

Excerpt from "Thrall: Poems" by Natasha Trethewey. Poems include "Help, 1968," "Elegy for My Father," and "Enlightenment." Copyright 2012 by Natasha Trethewey. Reprinted here by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

NPR

Texas Bookseller Picks 3 Summer Reads

Julia Green of Front Street Books recommends Moonlight on Linoleum by Terry Helwig, City of Women by David R. Gillham and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.
NPR

He Used To Live On The Streets Of Mumbai. Now, His Cafe Welcomes Everyone

Amin Sheikh's new cafe is a rarity in class-stratified India: It's open to people from all walks of life. Sheikh is a former street child, and so are many of his employees.
NPR

For Many Black Voters, Trump's 'What Do You Have To Lose?' Plea Isn't Enough

Donald Trump promises to help bring jobs and security to black neighborhoods. But his poll numbers with African-Americans are in the low single digits, and many say his message is insulting.
NPR

WATCH: Squishy 'Octobot' Moves Autonomously

The robot designed by a team from Harvard University moves without the help of any rigid parts. Researchers say it is the first proof-of-concept design for an entirely soft, autonomous machine.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.