Decatur's Natasha Trethewey To Be Poet Laureate

The town will celebrate this honor at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Decatur gazebo.

Natasha Threthewey, the Decatur resident and Emory University creative writing professor, will be named poet laureate of the United States on Thursday.

The appointment was reported Wednesday night by the New York Times and was also announced on the Decatur Book Festival Facebook page.

The festival posting said, "Join us in celebrating with her tomorrow at 5 p.m. at the downtown Decatur gazebo."

The Times reported,

Ms. Trethewey, 46, was born in Gulfport, Miss., and is the first Southerner to hold the post since Robert Penn Warren, the original laureate, and the first African-American since Rita Dove in 1993.

“I’m still a little in disbelief,” Ms. Trethewey said on Monday.

Poet laureate is mostly a ceremonial post but gives the holder a chance to promote poetry and literacy in the United States.

Threthewey, who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she's known about the appointment for weeks but had been sworn to secrecy.

“I thought I was going to burst,” Trethewey said. “I couldn’t tell my father or my brother, no one in my family.”

Reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, she was at her Decatur home officially celebrating the news with her husband, father and brother, by sharing a bottle of champagne with them on her back porch.

“You know, when you win the Pulitzer, people tell you that you now know what the first line of your obituary will be,” Trethewey said. “When I met with the people at the library of Congress a few weeks ago, they told me now you know the line that will replace that Pulitzer line.”

She's written three collections of poetry: Domestic Work (Graywolf Press, 2000), Bellocq's Ophelia (Graywolf, 2002), and Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). She won the 2007 Pulitzer for Native Guard.

She also wrote Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (Georgia, 2010), a work of creative non-fiction.

Her fourth collection of poetry, Thrall, will be published this fall.

Daren Wang, the Executive Director of the AJC Decatur Book Festival, said, "The heart and soul of the DBF has always been the vibrant Atlanta writing community. Natasha's elevation to Poet Laureate is confirmation of the spectacular talent we have here."


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