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Northwestern University

Natasha Trethewey


Research Profile

Professor and Poet Laureate

American history, family and racial identity are among the evocative themes running through the Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry of Natasha Trethewey, who served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States from 2012-2014 and is now Board of Trustees Professor of English.

Trethewey is the author of five collections of poetry: Domestic Work (2000), Bellocq's Ophelia (2002), Native Guard (2006), for which Trethewey was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize; Thrall (2012); and, most recently, Monument: Poems New and Selected (2018). In 2010, she published a book of nonfiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Natasha Trethewey

One of my projects has been to confront the misapprehensions and erasures of history—the things that have gotten left out of the historical record, left out of textbooks or misconstrued across time and space.”

--Natasha Trethewey, Board of Trustees Professor of English, Department of English

Poetry and history

Trethewey’s work combines free verse with more traditional forms such as the sonnet. In naming Trethewey the Poet Laureate, James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, said, "She intermixes her story with the historical story in a way that takes you deep into the human tragedy of it.”

Trethewey earned her MA from Hollins University and her MFA from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. In 2013, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2017 she received the Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities.


terms as U.S. Poet Laureate

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