American Academy elects Emory's Trethewey

By Elaine Justice | April 24, 2013

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Natasha Trethewey is Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing and director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory. Emory Photo/Video.

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U.S. Poet Laureate and Emory University faculty member Natasha Trethewey has been named a 2013 member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and a center for independent policy research.  

"Natasha Trethewey is among the nation's foremost contemporary voices in poetry," says Emory Provost Claire Sterk. "She also is a deeply dedicated and gifted teacher, helping scores of Emory students understand the creative process and the meaning of poetry and its relation to our lives and history."  

Trethewey, who is Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing and director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory, is serving as 19th Poet Laureate, and is in residence through May 2013 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Her term coincides with the 75th anniversary of the library's Poetry and Literature Center.  

Trethewey's poetry  

Trethewey is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection, “Native Guard” (2006), which Atlanta's Alliance Theatre will adapt for the stage in 2014 as part of the National Civil War Project.  

Other collections include “Bellocq’s Ophelia” (2002) and “Domestic Work” (2000) and her newest collection, “Thrall,” published in 2012. Trethewey also is the author of a book of creative nonfiction, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast” (2010).  

Poet Laureate of Mississippi  

Born in Gulfport, Miss., Trethewey also currently serves as Poet Laureate of Mississippi. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia, an M.A. in poetry from Hollins University, and an M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. From 2005-2006, she was appointed the Lehman Brady Joint Chair Professor of Documentary and American Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and from 2009-2010, she was the James Weldon Johnson Fellow in African American Studies at the Beinecke Library at Yale University.  

Among Trethewey's other honors are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study Center, and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She also has received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the Lillian Smith Award for Poetry.  

About the American Academy of Arts and Sciences  

One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the Academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, and the humanities, arts, and education.  

Since its founding in 1780, the Academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.  

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on Oct. 12 at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.