The title of the collection refers to the Mississippi Native Guards, a black regiment whose role in the Civil War has been largely overlooked by history. As a child in Gulfport, Mississippi, in the 1960s, Trethewey could gaze across the water to the fort on Ship Island where Confederate captives once were guarded by black soldiers serving the Union cause. The racial legacy of the South touched Trethewey’s life on a much more immediate level, too. Many of the poems in Native Guard pay loving tribute to her mother, whose marriage to a white man was illegal in her native Mississippi in the 1960s. Years after her mother’s tragic death, Trethewey reclaims her memory, just as she reclaims the voices of the black soldiers whose service has been all but forgotten.
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About the Author
NATASHA TRETHEWEY, two-term U.S. Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, and 2017 Heinz Award recipient, has written five collections of poetry and one book of nonfiction. An American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow, she is currently Board of Trustees professor of English at Northwestern University. She lives in Evanston, Illinois.
What People are Saying About This
"Trethewey serves our profound need for that rare thingartistically fine Civil War poetry...She is our Native Guard."David Madden, author of Sharpshooter
"The graceful form conceals a gritty subject...Trethewey has a gift for squeezing the contradictions of the South into very tightly controlled lines."Book World The Washington Post
"[Native Guard] consistently presents Trethewey's belief that history is layered, full of bones and ghosts, and that the poet's job is to penetrate and expose." St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Trethewey is sure-handed in her use of language and fearless in confronting her own personal issues." The Advocate
"A moving testimony." Atlanta Journal Constitution
"Elegiac...eloquently told...profoundly moving...Trethewey is clearly a poet to savor."Maxine Kumin
"In a very few years Natasha Trethewey has created a small body of nearly flawless poetry."Rodney Jones
"[Natasha Tretheway’s] voice is a rare, beautiful gift to the reader."William Ferris, Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History, UNC Chapel Hill