Pulitzer Prize Winner, former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey to speak March 22

Natasha Trethewey
Natasha Trethewey

Pulitzer Prize Winner and Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey will speak March 22 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

As the 2016 Frank B. Hanes Writer-in-Residence in the College of Arts and Sciences, Trethewey will present a free public reading at 7:30 p.m. in the Genome Sciences Auditorium. Parking is available in the Bell Tower parking deck after 5 p.m.

Born in Gulfport, Miss., to a mixed-race couple whose union was still illegal at the time of their marriage, Trethewey was an intimate witness to the inequality and everyday strife that would someday become a common theme in her work. When she was 19, her mother was murdered, a tragedy that led her to turn toward writing poems.

Trethewey is the author of four poetry collections: “Thrall” (2012); “Native Guard,” for which she won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize; “Bellocq’s Ophelia” (2002), which was named a Notable Book for 2003 by the American Library Association; and “Domestic Work” (2000). She is also the author of “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” (2010) and the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others.

She served two terms as Poet Laureate of the United States, from 2012-2014. One of her most powerful projects as poet laureate was the PBS NewsHour series, “Where Poetry Lives,” an in-depth look at civic life in the United States through the lens of poetry. During this series Trethewey and NPR correspondent Jeffrey Brown traveled 100 miles from Mississippi to Alabama as part of Congressman John Lewis’ 14th annual Civil Rights Pilgrimage.

Trethewey will participate as a panelist in additional free events:

  • March 21, 3:30 p.m., Donovan Lounge, Greenlaw Hall. “Writing Under the Influence: Our Favorite Poems and Why.” Featuring moderator George Lensing (English and comparative literature faculty, emeritus) and panelists Matthew Olzmann (poet and Kenan Writer-in-Residence) and Alan Shapiro (creative writing).
  • March 23, 3:30 p.m., Anne Queen Lounge, Campus Y. “Literature, Historical Memory and Empathy: The Role of the Literary Arts in Our Campus Conversation on Race.” Featuring moderator Randall Kenan (creative writing) and panelists Minrose Gwin and Jennifer Ho (both English and comparative literature).

The Frank B. Hanes Hanes Writer-in-Residence Program in the department of English and comparative literature honors the late Frank Borden Hanes Sr., a 1942 alumnus and founder of the Arts and Sciences Foundation who has been a long-time and generous supporter of creative writing at Carolina.