An open conversation between two leading poets in the United States today
This event is free and open to the public.Co-sponsored by the Lewis Center for the Arts. A reception and book signing will follow the conversation.
Our conversation series demonstrates the Center’s commitment to modeling a form of engagement that enriches public discussion on a range of topics, including politics, music, literature, and the arts. The series brings together two public figures from the same or different fields to share perspectives on their work and insights into our society.
Natasha Trethewey is the United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, and is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University.
Poet Natasha Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi. She is the author of three collections of poetry: “Domestic Work” (Graywolf Press, 2000), “Bellocq’s Ophelia” (Graywolf, 2002), and “Native Guard” (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), for which she was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize. She is also the author of a book of creative non-fiction, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” (Georgia, 2010).
Her first poetry collection, Domestic Work (Graywolf Press, 2000), won the inaugural 1999 Cave Canem poetry prize (selected by Rita Dove), a 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize, and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry. Her second collection, Bellocq’s Ophelia, received the 2003 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize, was a finalist for both the Academy of American Poets’ James Laughlin and Lenore Marshall prizes, and was named a 2003 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Her work has appeared in several volumes of Best American Poetry, and in journals such as Agni, American Poetry Review, Callaloo, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and The Southern Review, among others.
She received a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia, an M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University, and an M.F.A in poetry from the University of Massachusetts. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts During the 2005-2006 academic year she was Lehman Brady Joint Chair Professor of Documentary and American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and in 2009 she was the James Weldon Johnson Fellow in African American Studies at the Beinecke Library at Yale University.
Trethewey is also the recipient of the 2008 Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and was named the 2008 Georgia Woman of the Year. In 2009 she was inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and in 2011 was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. In 2012 she was named Poet Laureate of the state of Mississippi and the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States.
Her fourth collection of poetry, Thrall, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, was published in August 2012.
Tracy K. Smith is Professor of Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts. Richard Stockton Bicentennial Preceptor. Smith is the author of three books of poetry: Life on Mars, which received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize; Duende, recipient of the 2006 James Laughlin Award’ and The Body’s Question, which won the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith is also the recipient of a 2004 Rona Jaffe Award and a 2005 Whiting Award. She was the Literature protégé in the 2009-2011 cycle of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.