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Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey, a VQR contributing editor, is the author of four poetry collections and a book of creative nonfiction. Her honors include the Pulitzer Prize, for Native Guard (Mariner, 2007), and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2012, she was appointed US Poet Laureate. Her most recent collection of poems is Thrall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012). A native of Gulfport, Mississippi, she is the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair and professor of poetry at Emory University.



Spring 2012 | Poetry

In the portrait of Jefferson that hangs
at Monticello, he is rendered two-toned:
his forehead white with illumination—


Fall 2009 | Criticism

He has the surname that suggests
a contested kinship: Jefferson—


Fall 2009 | Criticism

Somewhere in the post-Katrina wreckage and disarray of my grandmother’s house, there is a photograph of my brother Joe and me, our arms around each other’s shoulders. We are at a long-gone nightclub in Gulfport, the Terrace Lounge, standing before the photographer’s airbrushed scrim—a border of dice and playing cards around us. Just above our heads the words HIGH ROLLERS, in cursive, embellished—if I am remembering this right—with tiny starbursts. 


Fall 2009 | Criticism

Here is North Gulfport—
its liquor stores and car washes,


Fall 2009 | Criticism

This week they are painting
the North Gulfport water tower.


Fall 2009 | Criticism

At first, there was nothing to do but watch.
For days, before the trucks arrived, before the work
of clean-up, my brother sat on the stoop and watched.


Fall 2009 | Criticism

The house is in need of repair, but is—
for now, she says—still hers. After the storm,
she laid hands on what she could reclaim:


Fall 2009 | Criticism

On Saturday, when I come to see
my brother, they call him, over loudspeaker,
to the tower—a small guardroom

Prodigal I

Fall 2009 | Poetry

Once, I was a daughter of this place:
daughter of Gwen, granddaughter
of Leretta, great of Eugenia McGee.

Prodigal II

Fall 2009 | Criticism

I wanted to say I have come home
to bear witness, to read the sign
emblazoned on the church marquee—


Fall 2009 | Poetry

I thought that when I saw my brother
walking through the gates of the prison,
he would look like a man entering his life. 


Summer 2005 | Poetry

  Vicksburg, Mississippi Here, the Mississippi carved     its mud-dark path, a graveyard for skeletons of sunken riverboats.     Here, the river changed its course, turning away from the city    &n [...]

On Whitman, Civil War Memory, and My South

Spring 2005 | Essays

  O magnet-South! O glistening perfumed South! my South!O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse and love! good and evil! O all dear to me! — Walt Whitman   I. The New SouthA few years ago I was interviewed for the Atlanta Journal-Constitu [...]


Spring 2004 | Poetry

We tell the story every year—
how we peered from the windows, shades drawn—
though nothing really happened,
the charred grass now green again.