Thursday, June 7, 2012, Natasha Trethewey will be named the 19th U.S. Poet Laureate! Last Fall, GMU students were honored to hear her read and speak at the yearly festival Fall for the Book. We learned from her during a panel discussion on race and poetry about discrimination embedded in privileges and the implications of naming a writer of color a writer of only “race” and the ways in which one writes from a “racialized” perspective. To read more about this discussion visit my post “The reality and unreality of race.”
Natasha Trethwey is a Pulitzer Prize winner and Mississippi’s Poet Laureate as well. Trethewey is young and filled with poetic prowess! She is the fifth woman out of 19 poets to receive this honor. She is the second African American out of 19 poets to receive this honor.
It took seven years for a woman to act as the first Poet Laureate Consult (Mona Van Duyn) and eight to for the first African American (Rita Dove), then another eight to see another woman in the position (Louise Glück). With our last (now) four laureates we have seen more of a gender balance from Kay Ryan to W.S. Mervin to Philip Levine to Natasha Trethewey, and we look forward to seeing more of this balance and a continually inclusive cultural diversity in our laureates to come.