Natasha Trethewey, the Pulitzer-winning poet and former United States Poet Laureate, will read from her work as part of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Reading Series.
Trethewey will read in the auditorium of the Sheldon Museum of Art on April 4 at 7 p.m. Her visit coincides with National Poetry Month.
The Reading Series and Trethewey’s visit are sponsored by the Department of English and Creative Writing Program. In anticipation of her presentation, the Department of English will host two events related to Trethewey’s work on April 1 and 2, exploring the topics of historical research and visual art as inspiration for poetry. The Reading Series was launched in October 2018, with a visit from writer Roxane Gay, a Nebraska alumna.
Trethewey served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States, from 2012 to 2014. In his citation, Librarian of Congress James Billington wrote, “Her poems dig beneath the surface of history — personal or communal, from childhood or from a century ago — to explore the human struggles that we all face.”
Trethewey is the author of “Monument,” a retrospective drawing together verse that delineates the stories of working-class black women, a mixed-race prostitute, one of the first black Civil War regiments, mestizo and mulatto figures in Casta paintings and Gulf coast victims of Katrina. It was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award. Other volumes include “Thrall,” “Native Guard,” for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, and “Bellocq’s Ophelia.” Trethewey is also the author of the prose book “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.” She is a Board of Trustees Professor of English in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University.
In her second term as United States Poet Laureate, Trethewey’s signature project was a PBS NewsHour Poetry Series, “Where Poetry Lives.” In this series, Trethewey traveled with Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Brown to cities across the United States in order to explore societal issues such as Alzheimer’s, domestic abuse, the civil rights movement and incarcerated teenagers — all through the prism of poetry, literature and Trethewey’s own personal experiences.
The schedule for the pre-readings and discussions is as follows:
April 1, 1:30 p.m., Bailey Library, Andrews Hall: “Influence & Inspiration: Drawing creative inspiration from historical research and classic works of art, theater, and film.” This discussion will explore the role of research in creating new work, as well as the influence of art, literature, theater and film. How do writers draw from the past, and from other representations of it? How do they take historical moments and examine their cultural relevancy today? Kwame Dawes, Grace Bauer, David Winter and Timothy Schaffert will lead this discussion
April 2, 4:30 p.m.; Sheldon Museum of Art: Poetry reading with graduate and undergraduate students in the university’s Creative Writing Program, with an emphasis on historical research and visual art.