Books All Georgians Should Read

Authors of the Month: December

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Introducing Natasha Trethewey

It’s really a very special occasion that Georgia can claim a strong connection — though hardly the only one — to the newly named Poet Laureate of the United States, Natasha Trethewey. She’s a very special writer and woman, and she carries a deeply felt character in her presence and her work.

She officially begins her prestigious new literary assignment in mid-September at the Library of Congress — the home, by the way, of the national Center for the Book — which means that when she comes to the Georgia Literary Festival at Jekyll Island November 9-10 she will be making her first “official” book appearance in this state. That’s a big deal, and those  of us who have been working to put together that festival are excited and honored to welcome her to what is shaping up as arguably this year’s best book-related event.

Natasha will become the 19th Poet Laureate, though the post goes back to the 1940s when those chosen were called “Consultants in Poetry” to the Library of Congress. Her predecessors are an incredibly distinguished lot. Consider some of the names: Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, Robert Frost, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, James Dickey and more recently Rita Dove, Robert Pinsky, Billy Collins and the most recent  Laureate, Philip Levine. That’s a daunting group of poets at any time, anywhere.

Natasha has written four books and she has a new one, a new collection of poems, due later this fall, but just in time for the Jekyll Island festival, where it will be available for sale and signing. (Yep, this is a shameless plug for that beachfront event, with the added bonus of an appearance by the newly named Georgia Poet Laureate, Judson Mitcham. No tickets are required, and it’s free of course. Check out details at this web site.)

Natasha is the Poet Laureate of Mississippi, a post she retains during the 12-months she is the U.S. Poet Laureate. That’s her native state (she was born in Gulfport in 1966), though her home is now in Georgia where she teaches at Emory University. She’s made several appearances with the Georgia Center for the Book, of course, and her work has been included on the Center’s important list of “25 Books All Georgians Should Read.”

In other words, she’s really someone very special. I hope you get to meet her. I hope you get to read her.



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