Alumna named U.S. Poet Laureate

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Natasha Trethewey (BA ’89), who won a Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007, takes her seat this month as the U.S. Poet Laureate for 2012-13, as selected by the Library of Congress. The Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University, Trethewey has maintained close ties to UGA, contributing to the Georgia Review and participating in readings and workshops sponsored by the university. Her 2010 book, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a personal profile of the devastation of hurricane Katrina in her home region, was published by the UGA Press. Captain of the cheerleading squad while at UGA, Trethewey earned her undergraduate degree in English from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. She went on to earn a master’s degree in English and creative writing from Hollins University and a master of fine arts in poetry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

 

Domestic Work, 1937

 

All week she’s cleaned

someone else’s house,

stared down her own face

in the shine of copper—

bottomed pots, polished

wood, toilets she’d pull

the lid to—that look saying

 

Let’s make a change, girl.

 

But Sunday mornings are hers—

church clothes starched

and hanging, a record spinning

on the console, the whole house

dancing. She raises the shades,

washes the rooms in light,

buckets of water, Octagon soap.

 

Cleanliness is next to godliness ...

 

Windows and doors flung wide,

curtains two-stepping

forward and back, neck bones

bumping in the pot, a choir

of clothes clapping on the line.

 

Nearer my God to Thee ...

 

She beats time on the rugs,

blows dust from the broom

like dandelion spores, each one

a wish for something better.

 

—Natasha Trethewey, from her first collection of poetry, Domestic Work, published in 2000.

Get More

For more on Trethewey, read the GM profile from 2007, when she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize: http://www.uga.edu/gm/artman/publish/0709stories.html