“No names carved for the Native Guards,” Trethewey muses in her poem, “Elegy for the Native Guards.” She’s thinking about the African American soldiers who had held the Federal fort and POW prison on Ship Island, off the coast of Gulfport. Miss., during the Civil War. A plaque at the site commemorates the Confederate prisoners who had died there, but not the Union soldiers killed by disease.
Trethewey was born in Gulfport. Her three collections of poetry—“Domestic Work” (Graywolf, 2000), “Bellocq's Ophelia” (Graywolf, 2002); and “Native Guard” (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)—speak for the lives of unrecognized Gulf coast people.
She is currently a professor of creative writing at Emory University.
In addition to memorial poems, “Native Guard,” 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winner for poetry, explores the murder of her African American mother by her stepfather, after Trethewey’s mother had divorced Natasha’s father, a white man.
Trethewey has also penned the non-fiction work, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” (Georgia, 2010). Her fourth book of poems, “Thrall,” is due out this fall.
See author website.
Listen to 2007 NPR interview.