African-American author Natasha Tretheway has been named Poet Laureate of the United States. The Pulitzer-Prize winner and Professor at Emory University is the first black to hold the honor since 1993.
Natasha Tretheway has written three collections of poetry and one nonfiction book. The 46-year-old author is known for several works including “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.” She is due for a fourth collection of poetry called “Thrall” to be released fall 2012.
Tretheway’s poetry tells the story of those who often go overlooked in history; a washerwoman (Domestic Work), the black slave Civil War soldier (Native Guard) and even a mixed-race prostitute (Bellocq’s Ophelia). Native Guard won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize.
Tretheway uses her own life experiences to breathe life into her poetic collections. She knows about racism through her own upbringing as a mixed race child of the South. ln an illegal union from the beginning, Natasha’s mother was black (or “colored” as it says on her birth certificate) and her father is a white Canadian. When she was only 19 years old, Tretheway used a pen and paper to deal with an event that left her speechless; the brutal murder of her own mother by her then-second ex-husband. To make sense of what had happened to her mother, she wrote poetry and spent the next 20 years finding her voice.