U.S. Poet Laureate to Speak at Ohio Wesleyan University

Natasha Trethewey to Read Poetry Selections at Free Feb. 20 Event
Natasha Tretheway. (Photo by Joel Benjamin)

Natasha Tretheway. (Photo by Joel Benjamin)

DELAWARE, OHIO – Ohio Wesleyan University will host Natasha Trethewey, America’s current poet laureate and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, at 7 p.m. Feb. 20.

Trethewey will read selections of her poetry in the Benes Rooms inside Ohio Wesleyan’s Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave., Delaware. The event is free and open to the public.

Trethewey was appointed in August as “poet laureate consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress” – more commonly referred to as the U.S. poet laureate. She was appointed by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who stated: “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 published her first collection of poetry, “Domestic Work,” in 1999 and her latest, “Thrall,” in 2012.

Of “Thrall,” publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt states: “Natasha Trethewey’s poems are at once deeply personal and historical – exploring her own interracial and complicated roots – and utterly American, connecting them to ours. The daughter of a black mother and white father, a student of history and of the Deep South, she is inspired by everything from colonial paintings of mulattos and mestizos to the stories of people forgotten by history. … ‘Thrall’ confirms not only that Natasha Trethewey is one of our most gifted and necessary poets but that she is also one of our most brilliant and fearless.”

Her 2006 collection, “Native Guard,” earned the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. During her career, she has earned other honors including the Cave Canem poetry prize, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize, and the Lillian Smith Award for Poetry. Trethewey also has earned 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.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Georgia, her Master of Arts degree in English and creative writing from Hollins University in Virginia, and her Master of Fine Arts in poetry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Ohio Wesleyan associate English professor David Caplan, Ph.D., who helped to secure Trethewey’s visit, said those able to attend her presentation are in for a memorable evening.

“Natasha Trethewey is one of the most important poets of her generation,” said Caplan, who also serves as associate director of creative writing. “Her work is both intimate and searching. In it, a reader encounters the great issues of our moment – the complexities of race, family, and historical memory – sensitively and provocatively considered. This will be her second visit to OWU. Shortly after she published her first poetry collection, she gave a marvelously engaging reading. We are excited to have this talented poet return to our campus.”

Learn more about the Ohio Wesleyan Department of English.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities. Ohio Wesleyan offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. OWU combines an internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that connect classroom theory with real-world practice. Located in Delaware, Ohio, OWU’s 1,850 students represent 41 states and 45 countries. The university is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, and included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

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