A Poet Remembers Hurricane Katrina
Last week Emory University English and creative writing professor Natasha Trethewey was named the latest U.S. poet laureate. At 46, she is one of the youngest writers to hold the post. She is also the first Southerner since Robert Penn Warren (1986) and the first African American since Rita Dove (1993) to gain the title.
Writes Ted Genoways, editor at large of OnEarth: “It’s especially worth noting, because Trethewey’s work can be understood as an extension and argument with those two poets. She shares their interest in history, in the divisions of race, and the ways in which landscape can embody hidden pasts. For Trethewey, that landscape is her native Gulfport, Mississippi, a region beset by the legacy of racism and, more recently, by the catastrophes of Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”
You can watch a fine reading of Trethewey’s “Liturgy,” a poem Genoways describes as “a brilliant, panoramic incantation, offered as praise-song and elegy for her lost home,” at the OnEarth blog. The poem is also included in Trethewey’s book Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (University of Georgia Press, 2010).
Image: Emory University
Reed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”