Tag: Natasha Trethewey

Trethewey to deliver Commencement address; 2020 ceremony to be virtual

Natasha Trethewey

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose writings are plenty familiar to Lawrence University students will be the speaker at the university’s 2020 Commencement celebration, which will take place in a virtual format.

Natasha Trethewey, who served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States and whose book, Native Guard, has been part of the required reading for Freshman Studies at Lawrence the past five years, will deliver the address and receive an honorary degree.

Lawrence officials notified the senior class on Monday that an in-person Commencement ceremony on campus would not be possible this year because of the projected length and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. See President Mark Burstein’s message here.

Lawrence has moved its Spring Term to distance learning and has canceled all public events during that time.

Commencement, set for June 14, will continue, but it’ll happen in a virtual space. Details are still being worked out, but Trethewey has committed to participating.   

“No decision this year was more painful than the realization that we needed to transform our wonderful commencement celebration into a virtual event,” Burstein said. “Having Ms. Trethewey’s commencement address will help us all remember the importance of inclusive social connection and the power of humanity.

“Ms. Trethewey’s work has provided a gateway to our arts and sciences education for every Lawrence first-year student for years through our Freshman Studies program,” Burstein said. “It seems fitting that we honor Ms. Trethewey, whose powerful poetry has moved millions, at the Commencement of a class that her work launched.”

Trethewey previously gave a Convocation address at Lawrence in fall 2016.

“Our journeys have been intertwined since I visited Lawrence four years ago, and I am delighted and honored to be able to reconnect with this class in such a meaningful way,” Trethewey said.

A chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Trethewey is the author of five collections of poetry: Domestic Work (2000), Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), Native Guard (2006)—for which she was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize—Thrall (2012), and Monument: Poems New and Selected (2018).

In 2010, she published a book of nonfiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Trethewey is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. In 2017, she received the Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities. A member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she is currently Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University.

When Trethewey came to Lawrence in 2016, she spoke on “The Muse of History: On Poetry and Social Justice.”

It’s Native Guard, meanwhile, that Lawrence students will be most familiar with. It’s been part of the Freshman Studies reading list since 2015.

Garth Bond, associate professor of English, was directing Freshman Studies last year when he said this about Native Guard: “This short collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry teaches students to recognize the fullness and precision of meaning in language. Trethewey’s poems meditate on the role that objects—photographs, monuments, diaries—play in shaping our memories and histories. She begins with the personal loss of her mother, then turns to the public history of American racism and the memorialization of the Civil War. The final section revisits personal experience, now reshaped in the light of that public history.”

Reunion 2020 announcement: Reunion 2020, a four-day celebration with Lawrence alumni planned for the week following Commencement, will not take place as planned this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, University officials announced to Reunion classes on Monday. Lawrence officials are in the process of determining how the University will move forward to celebrate and honor Reunion 2020. A message to alumni from Matt Baumler, executive director of Alumni and Constituency Engagement, can be found here. Alumni are encouraged to check the Reunion page at lawrence.edu for updates.

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey delivers university convocation Nov. 1

A Head shot of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey.
Natasha Trethewey

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey presents “The Muse of History: On Poetry and Social Justice” Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel in the second installment of Lawrence University’s 2016-17 convocation series. Trethewey will conduct a question-and-answer session immediately following her address. The event is free and open to the public.

A native of Mississippi and the daughter of a mixed-race marriage, Trethewey combines the personal and the historical in her work. The author of four collections of poetry, her writing frequently addresses societal issues regarding class, race and war.

Following the release of her first collection, 2000’s “Domestic Work,” Trethewey received the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, which recognizes the best first book by an African American poet. “Domestic Work” also was honored with the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry.

Her third book of poems, “Native Guard,” was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize.  “Native Guard” has been a part of Lawrence’s Freshman Studies reading list the past two years.

A photo of the cover of the book of poems "Native Guard" by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey.More recently she has released  “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” a non-fiction personal profile of some of the people whose lives were forever changed by the hurricane.  “Thrall,” her fourth book of poetry published in 2012, explores historical representations of mixed-race families. Trethewey will read from “Thrall” as part of her address.

In 2012, Trethewey was named the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States by the Library of Congress, one of numerous honors she has received for her work. She also has been awarded fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Trethewey is a member of the faculty at Atlanta’s Emory University where she is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.