Her term, beginning in September, also coincides with the 75th anniversary of the poetry center and a dedicated poet-consultant position at the world’s largest library.
Trethewey said she hopes to promote national activity around poetry and to engage with the library and people who visit the nation’s capital.
Past poet laureates have included W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Rita Dove and Warren _ the Southern native who was an inspiration for Trethewey. Their agendas as the nation’s chief poets have included readings across the country, newspaper syndication of poems and poetry readings over high school public address systems.
Poetry lives in the Trethewey family. Her father, Eric Trethewey, is a poet and college professor. But when she went to graduate school, she was more interested in telling stories and studied fiction writing.
“On a dare that first semester, a poet friend of mine got me to write a poem. I did it because I thought I would prove that I couldn’t do it,” she said. “It was at that moment that something really clicked.”
Her Pulitzer-winning poems also included her personal history as the daughter of interracial parents _ and the story of her mother, who died at the age of 40.
In “Miscegenation,” a poem in “Native Guard,” she wrote about her parents’ journey to Ohio in 1965 for a marriage that was illegal at home in Mississippi.
“They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name
“begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong _ mis in Mississippi.”
Trethewey’s next collection of poems, “Thrall,” will be published this year. It explores her relationship with her white father and shared and divergent memory within families, along with poems about paintings and the history of knowledge from the Enlightenment.
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