U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey was at Stanford last night – alas, I had a conflicting appointment. But Adam Johnson, author of the acclaimed The Orphan Master’s Son, attended, and sent me his glorious portrait as a souvenir of the occasion. And that is the excuse for this post.
Adam had this to say about the reading I didn’t attend: “The reading was a truly commanding one. The poetry was powerful and beautiful, and the audience felt its embrace. Rarely do you see a poet so fully or eloquently embody her work as Natasha Trethewey did at the lectern tonight.” (Adam was no slouch at his own reading tonight – more on that in another post.)
In his citation for the poet laureate appointment, Librarian of Congress James Billington wrote that he was “immediately struck by a kind of classic quality with a richness and variety of structures with which she presents her poetry … she intermixes her story with the historical story in a way that takes you deep into the human tragedy of it.” Rita Dove wrote in an introduction to one of Tretheway’s books that she “eschews the Polaroid instant … reclaiming for us that interior life where the true self flourishes and to which we return, in solitary reverie, for strength.”
Tretheway is the author of Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (University of Georgia Press), Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin), for which she won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, Bellocq’s Ophelia (Graywolf, 2002), which was named a Notable Book for 2003 by the American Library Association, and Domestic Work (Graywolf, 2000).
Her collection Thrall is due for publication in 2012 – but it better hurry up, only seven weeks left in the year. My goodness, where did it go?
Postscript on 11/7: Whoops! Christina Ablaza just wrote to tell me that Thrall came out in August.