Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey to read at UNCA

UNCA’s website announces:

Natasha Tretheway, one of America’s most acclaimed poets and a compelling speaker, will offer a reading and talk at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in UNC Asheville’s Humanities Lecture Hall. This event is free and open to the public.

Tretheway won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for “Native Guard” (2006, Houghton Mifflin). The title poem of this collection recalls one of the first black Confederate regiments mustered during the Civil War. The regiment was organized in New Orleans, but later stationed on an island near Trethewey’s hometown of Gulfport, Miss.

“Native Guard,” Trethewey’s third published collection, also contains poems examining feelings in Mississippi about Tretheway’s biracial heritage. Her parents travelled to Ohio to marry because they could not legally do so in their home state.

Tretheway “has a gift for squeezing the contradictions of the South into very tightly controlled lines,” according to a Washington Post review.

In her UNC Asheville appearance, Trethewey will likely present poems from her newest collection, to be released this fall, which is concerned with colonialism in the Americas. “My obsessions stay the same – historical memory and historical erasure,” said Trethewey. “’Thrall,’ which is the name of the new book, arises out of the research on ‘Native Guard.’ I always go to the Oxford English Dictionary … the first definition [of native] is ‘someone born into the condition of servitude, of thrall.’”

Trethewey is Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University. Her appearance is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities Professorship at UNC Asheville. For more information, contact the UNC Asheville Department of Humanities at 828.251-6808.

About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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