Terry Gross interviews Natasha Trethewey on Fresh Air

Terry Gross, host of National Public Radio’s show Fresh Air, interviewed poet Natasha Trethewey the day before Barack Obama’s inauguration.

During the interview Trethewey speaks as both a poet and as a biracial American. Terry Gross asks Trethewey what it means for her to live in a country with a biracial president, highlighting how 40 years ago interracial marriage was against the law in her native state of Mississippi. As I listened to the interview, it naturally came to mind the current struggles gay Americans are now living, and the discrimination they face in their desire to marry. Will it take another 40 years for all Americans to enjoy equal civil rights?

The interview is fourteen minutes long, but in the first three minutes Trethewey recites her poem, My Mother Dreams Another Country, from her collection Native Guard, for which she won the Pulitzer prize in 2007.

Fresh Air, Terry Gross interview with Natasha Trethewey

If you follow this link to Online NewsHour you can read and listen to Myth and Miscegenation, also from her collection Native Guard.

Natasha Trethewey teaches poetry in metro Atlanta, at Emory University. Maybe I’m biased toward a poet from my hometown, but I must say Natasha Trethewey would have made an excellent choice to write a poem for Barack Obama’s inauguration, not only because of her skill as a poet and a historian, but also because of her melodic voice. Which is not to slight Elizabeth Alexander, who I think did a wonderful job, considering the challenges she faced.

Edward Byrne, on his blog One Poet’s Notes, discusses the various responses to Alexander’s poem, and he includes the video of her performance, as well as her finished poem. There’s also a long banner of comments from different writers that might be of interest.

9 thoughts on “Terry Gross interviews Natasha Trethewey on Fresh Air

  1. Collin Kelley says:

    Natasha really is brilliant. Thanks for the link. The vitriol over Alexander is, as I said on my blog, approaching the pathological. Alexander will be reading at Emory on Feb. 11. I’ll be there.


  2. ybonesy says:

    Terry Gross is one of my favorite interviewers. I’ll check out the link.

    I loved Elizabeth Alexander’s inaugural poem. I found it to be so simple and ordinary. And amazing how she could invoke so many images with a spare sentence.

    It was a huge challenge; I think she rose to it. I saw that one of the late-night comedians had made fun, but I suppose that’s what they do. Poets do what they do, and comedians make fun. I thought she was courageous. I’d like to learn more, too, about Thrthewey.


  3. Holly D says:

    Kind of funny really. I was at Auburn when she was teaching there. I didn’t have her as a CW teacher, but another prof that was a really great inspiration to me. I never really got to know Natasha, but it was neat to hear when she won the Pulitzer.


  4. Julie says:

    I love all of the excellent information and links you have on your blog, Christine. The only problem is that now I’ll be up all night reading everything…ha! ha! I laugh, but I really will be. This is wonderful…and most appreciated.


  5. susan says:

    What? I could have sworn I actually commented about the post. I have a collection Tretheway’s, Native Guard. I enjoy it and hope to get my hands on a copy of her volumn, Domestic Work. Thanks for the post.


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