'Speaking The Unspeakable' To The New Poet Laureate | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

'Speaking The Unspeakable' To The New Poet Laureate

Play associated audio

Natasha Trethewey is the newly announced, 19th U.S. poet laureate. The position is described by the Library of Congress as "the nation's official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans."

Trethewey tells Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin that it's a lot of responsibility.

"Just trying to be the biggest promoter of poetry; someone who's really got to do the work of bringing poetry to the widest audience possible," she says.

Poetry, she says, is one of those things people turn to when they need a way to "speak the unspeakable."

"That's because poetry not only can celebrate our joys with us, but it can also mourn with us our losses," she says.

A professor of English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, Trethewey is the first Southerner appointed to the post since the very first poet laureate, Robert Penn Warren in 1986.

Trethewey won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for her collection Native Guard, a book about the Louisiana Native Guard, a black Union regiment assigned to guard Confederate soldiers held on Ship Island off Mississippi's Gulf Coast during the Civil War.

Click on the audio links on this page to listen to Natasha Trethewey read the two poems below.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Weekend Musher Finds Dogs Keep Her Hanging On

Julia Bayly of Fort Kent, Maine, works as a reporter at the Bangor Daily News. Her passion outside of work is dog sledding. It's the latest installment in our hobby series "Alter Egos."
NPR

A Peace Corps Stint In Madagascar Gave Him A Vision of Vanilla

The top source of vanilla beans sends its fragrant crop abroad for processing into extract. Now a former Peace Corps volunteer aims to boost Madagascar's economy by building a bean-to-bottle business.
NPR

Rep. Ryan Calls For 'Culture Of Inclusion' To Tackle Poverty

Congressman and former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan discusses his new book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea.
NPR

New Amazon Series Pilots Fall Short Of A TV Revolution

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans ranks Amazon's new batch of five series pilots, asking why none of them seem break the rules of TV quite enough to draw attention.

Leave a Comment

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