The announcement of the newest poet laureate offers some contrast to many of the past. Natasha Trethewey is by no means the first woman laureate but she joins a rather short list women who have held the post. It is equally noteworthy to me that she is quite young as poet laureates go. At 46 she is actually older then I had thought her to be, still many laureates enter the office in their 70’s or 80’s.
Yet another significant aspect of Tretheway’s selection is the regional flavor her work brings. She is from the South and much of her work is laced in history and people and times in the South. Merwin and Hall for example were poets that had geographical ties but there work could probably be described as more universal.
While universality in poetry is a good thing, some times there are stories to be told that are more parochial. That need to be part of the national dialogue. That without, we as a nation are not whole.Natasha Trethewey is a powerful voice that has been informed by a unique life story.
I’ve read some of her work over the past couple of years and heard much more in her own voice on NPR and the Poetry Hour on PBS. From some of the talk on Facebook I gather she has flown below the radar of more poetry readers then I would have guessed. That being the case, her selection is even more significant because she a voice that is worthy of being heard.
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