Philip Levine fans, your time is up. Natasha Trethewey, faculty member at Emory University and Pulitzer Prize winner, has been named the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States, a position that has been held by everyone from Robert Penn Warren to Rita Dove to Louise Glück and, of course, Billy "Waterski across the surface of a poem" Collins. Trethewey, who hails from Gulfport, Mississippi and was recently named to the same position in her home state, is the first poet laureate of the U.S. to come from the South.
Trethewey, whose poems are tied deeply to memory and feature simple, but stark and evocative images, won the Pulitzer in 2007 for Native Guard, a meditation on the South, her family and her history named for a regiment of African-American Union soldiers in the Civil War, who are honored with a set of sonnets in the book. Her most recent work, from 2010, is primarily a memoir, entitled Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Here are a few selections from her work, read aloud, so you can get a taste for your new Poet Laureate.
"Liturgy" from Beyond Katrina:
Live at the Jule Collins Smtih Museum of Fine Art @ Auburn University: