Renowned poet welcomed home by Delta State
by Rory Doyle
Sep 19, 2012 | 2924 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mississippi native Natasha Trethewey held a poetry reading Tuesday at Delta State University. Trethewey, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was appointed to the position of United States Poet Laureate in June.
Mississippi native Natasha Trethewey held a poetry reading Tuesday at Delta State University. Trethewey, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was appointed to the position of United States Poet Laureate in June.
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New United States Poet Laureate and Mississippi Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey gave her first Mississippi reading as the nation’s 19th Poet Laureate at Delta State University on Tuesday.

The reading served as the Mississippi launch for her new book of poetry “Thrall.”

Trethewey, born in Gulfport, addressed the media prior to Tuesday's reading.

"Delta State University is kind of the first place to welcome me in my home state — it's nice to come to a place that welcomes me at home," said Trethewey. "I'm reminded most of being a native daughter when I come here.

"What I want very much is to be able to connect with people in the audience and ask them to think about things they might not have thought about before."

Trethewey was appointed as the U.S. Poet Laureate in June and said she's extremely honored to hold the position.

"It's very exciting but it's also very humbling. Even if you dream of what you might become as you're growing up, getting there reminds you not only of the hard work you've done, but the support you've received from other people.

"It also reminds you how much responsibility comes with the gifts you've been given — that’s the humbling part."

Trethewey, deeply influenced by history, said one responsibility of the position is to promote a larger national conversation about the role poetry plays in American lives.

"It's important to tell those untold stories, those forgotten narratives in American history in order for us, as Americans, to share a fuller version of our shared history," she said.

She said American history is "terrible beauty" as well as "tragic and difficult."

Trethewey was nationally recognized for her work when she won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her collection "Native Guard."

DSU was the first university to give her an honorary doctorate, awarded by Dr. John Hilpert at the 2007 Fall Commencement.

Trethewey is also the 2008 winner of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts from the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Assistant Professor of English Don Allan Mitchell has been instrumental in helping Trethewey present on campus.

“We are so very fortunate to have a supporter of Delta State University like Natasha Trethewey," said Mitchell. "She understands that memory has a special resonance in Mississippi and in the Delta, and I have made it a personal mission of mine to make sure she is properly honored in her home state.

"Mississippi was on the wrong side of history when we made a crime of her interracial birth in 1966; I want to make sure that we are on the right side of history in 2012 by honoring Mississippi’s greatest contribution to American poetry.”

The reading was hosted by the Division of Languages and Literature and the DSU Diversity Committee.

Support was also provided by the Delta Music Institute, The Delta State University Foundation and the Bologna Performing Arts Center.