Courtesy of USA Today
Natasha Trethewey, 46, an English and creative writing professor at Emory University in Atlanta, will be named the 19th poet laureate Thursday. She is also Mississippi’s top poet and will be the first person to serve simultaneously as a state and U.S. laureate.
Trethewey won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her poetry book, Native Guard. She wrote of the Louisiana Native Guard, a black Civil War regiment assigned to guard white Confederate soldiers held on Ship Island off Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.
The Confederate prisoners were later memorialized on the island, but not the black Union soldiers.
A stanza reads:
“Some names shall deck the page of history
“as it is written on stone. Some will not.”
Librarian of Congress James Billington, who chose Trethewey after hearing her read at the National Book Festival in Washington, said her work explores forgotten history and the many human tragedies of the Civil War.
“She’s taking us into history that was never written,” he told the Associated Press. “She takes the greatest human tragedy in American history — the Civil War, 650,000 people killed, the most destructive war of human life for a century — and she takes us inside without preaching.”