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Congratulations to Natasha Trethewey for Her Appointment as U.S. Poet Laureate

PUBLISHED: June 7, 2012


Natasha Tretheway

Natasha Tretheway


We are proud to announce that VQR contributing editor Natasha Trethewey has been named the Poet Laureate of the United States.

“Natasha Trethewey is an outstanding poet/historian in the mold of Robert Penn Warren, our first Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry,” Librarian of Congress James Billington stated. “Her poems dig beneath the surface of history—personal or communal, from childhood or from a century ago—to explore the human struggles that we all face.”

Trethewey’s relationship with VQR over the past nine years has been particularly strong. Her first three poems in VQR were later included in her poetry collection, Native Guard, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize.

She has published thirteen poems in our pages, including the remarkable poem “Enlightenment” in the spring 2012 issue with a focus on race relations, family bonds, and Thomas Jefferson. With the jeweled precision of a koan, she writes:

I see how the past holds us captive,

its beautiful ruin etched on the mind’s eye.

The poem “Enlightenment” will be in her forthcoming poetry collection, Thrall.

In addition to poetry, Trethewey has published essays and dispatches with us and participated in a multimedia work about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on her home state of Mississippi. Her VQR work became a central part of her nonfiction book, Beyond Katrina.

Natasha Trethewey is a gifted poet, a lyric essayist, and a great ambassador for literature, learning, and civility.

On a personal note, I have had the pleasure of working with her as she represented our nation at intergovernmental cultural programming in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC. Whatever the occasion, she gives so much to the audience so freely, reminding us of the hard-won truths at the heart of all the arts. Natasha is both a friend and a mentor. We could not be happier about her honor and join the literary community in congratulating her.

We have made available for free the following works by Natasha Trethewey.


•  Benediction
•  Believer
•  Pilgrimage
•  Scenes From a Documentary History of Mississippi

Essays and Dispatches

•  Congregation
•  On Whitman, Civil War Memory, and My South
•  The Gulf: A Meditation on the Mississippi Coast After Katrina

Recommended Reading