Former U.S. poet laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner to visit URI for National Poetry Month

Natasha Trethewey to give reading on April 4

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 18, 2024 – The University of Rhode Island will host Natasha Trethewey, a Pulitzer Prize winner and two-term U.S. poet laureate, on Thursday, April 4, as part of National Poetry Month.

Trethewey will read from her 2018 poetry collection “Monument: Poems New & Selected,” which was longlisted for the National Book Award, at 5 p.m. in the Galanti Lounge of the Carothers Library and Learning Commons, 15 Lippitt Road, Kingston. There will also be a question and answer session. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required to attend in-person or to receive a link to the livestream.

“What better way to celebrate National Poetry Month than by listening to the elegant and heartfelt work of one of America’s handful of top poets,” said Peter Covino, associate professor of English at URI. “National Poetry Month is a time to contemplate what excellent writing and measured, rhythmic speech can do to change and improve the national conversation about all types of profound creative and social issues.”

Trethewey, who was the 19th poet laureate of the United States from 2012-14 and a poet laureate of the state of Mississippi, won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her collection of poetry “Native Ground.” She is the author of five collections, including “Thrall,” “Bellocq’s Ophelia,” and “Domestic Work,” which captured the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for best first book by an African American poet.

“Trethewey’s poetry is uniquely lyrical and passionate while also being worldly and inclusive,” said Covino, an award-winning poet. “She has a way of addressing complex issues of family life, historical legacy, and issues of race that are deeply researched and presented in a compassionate, emphatic way. The overall effect is subtle, long-lasting and full of discovery—like our most memorable and sublime literary art.”

In addition to her poetry, Threthewey, the Board of Trustees Professor of English in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northeastern University, is also the author of two memoirs, “The House of Being,” out this year, and the 2020 New York Times bestseller “Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir,” and a book of nonfiction, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Trethewey has been awarded 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. She served as the poetry editor of the New York Times Magazine, and is the editor of “The Essential Muriel Rukeyser,” “Best New Poets 2007,” and “Best American Poetry 2017.”

URI has been trying for several years to host Trethewey, Covino said, but her schedule has been completely booked. At URI, her work is consistently taught by English lecturer Talvikki Ansel, and numerous graduate students have studied Trethewey’s work critically. Several have included analyses of her poetry in their dissertations, including Rachel Rothenberg, who helped plan Trethewey’s visit to URI, Covino said.

Trethewey’s visit is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the English Department, the Center for the Humanities, and the Priore family.