I was so excited to meet Natasha Trethewey at the booksigning in Jackson, MS. I am now the proud owner of an autographed copy of Native Guard, for which she won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Natasha has a lovely voice that one could listen to all night, and she reads expressively by pacing the reading in accordance with the action of the words. She seems to be a very kind person who is willing to encourage and give advice to new poets such as myself. I asked her if I was correct in my approach to getting my book of poems published; if I should try to have them published individually first. She said yes, that she also has parts of her books published in magazines and journals individually. I also asked if self-publishing was a “no.” She said, no, that I could do that, too, and suggested that, otherwise, contests might be the best bet. I told her I have 15 poems published. She said, That’s enough! But I didn’t bother her with the fact that these poems do not “go” together; they are quite varied in theme. Some are fantasy, some are religious, some are about love and heartbreak. I’ll just keep on trying!
Natasha Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi and now holds the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry at Emory University. She won the inaugural 1999 Cave Canem poetry prize for her first poetry collection, Domestic Work (Graywolf Press, 2000), the 2008 Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts for Poetry and numerous other awards. Ms. Trethewey earned a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia, an M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University, and an M.F.A in poetry from the University of Massachusetts. She was recently interviewed on NPR about her latest work, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf.
Her newest collection of poetry, Thrall, is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Fall 2012. You can read some of her poems here. You can hear her read a poem from the new book on Youtube . In her speech “Why I Write” she tells how she almost didn’t get into a MFA program because she was thought of as too concerned with a “message.” She goes on to tell how we write “what we are given,” and that includes where we came from, our background, our politics, etc… click here for more. Click here to watch her speak on why she writes .