Natasha Trethewey Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Natasha Trethewey (TREHTH-eh-way) is known primarily for her poetry.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Natasha Trethewey was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 2007 for Native Guard. Domestic Work, Bellocq’s Ophelia, and Native Guard all won Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prizes (2001, 2003, and 2007, respectively). Domestic Work was selected by Rita Dove, former poet laureate of the United States, as winner of the 1999 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Trethewey twice received the Lillian Smith Book Award for Poetry (2001, 2007). She has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard (the Bunting Fellowship), the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation. In 2008, she received the Mississippi Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence and was also named Georgia Woman of the Year. She has also been inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Trethewey has been recognized for her blending of autobiography and history. She is also noted for examining the complexity of biracial identity.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Debo, Annette. “Ophelia Speaks: Resurrecting Lives in Natasha Trethewey’s Bellocq’s Ophelia.” African American Review 42, no. 2 (Summer, 2008): 201-215. Analyzes the poetry in Bellocq’s Ophelia and discusses the social and cultural milieu of early twentieth century New Orleans.

McFarland, Ron. “Native Guard.” In Masterplots II: African American Literature, edited by Tyrone Williams. Rev. ed. Pasadena, Calif: Salem Press, 2009. Provides an in-depth analysis of Native Guard, looking at themes and critical analysis.

Milne, Ira Mark, ed. Poetry for Students. Vol. 27. Detroit: Thomson/Gale Group, 2008. Contains an analysis of “Native Guard.”

Mlinko, Ange. “More than Meets the I.” Review of Native Guard. Poetry 191, no. 1 (October, 2007): 56-59. Comments on the theme of synthesis in reviewing Native Guard.

Shipers, Carrie. Review of Native Guard. Prairie Schooner 80, no. 4 (Winter, 2006): 199-201. Praises Trethewey’s control of emotion and of form in the poems.

Solomon, Deborah. “Native Daughter.” The New York Times Magazine, May 13, 2007, 15. Covers some biographical information and generally discusses Native Guard.

Trethewey, Natasha. “An Interview with Natasha Trethewey.” Interview by Pearl Amelia McHaney. Five Points: A Journal of Literature and Art 11, no. 3 (September, 2007): 96-116. Contains a lengthy discussion of Native Guard, including comments on the specific poetic forms that Trethewey used. Briefly covers the two previous books and includes information on her life.

_______. “Q&A/Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet and Emory Professor: ’Poems Captivate Me in a Way that Nothing Else Does.’” Interview by Teresa Weaver. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 29, 2007, pp. 1B, B4. Contains comments on Trethewey’s life, her winning the Pulitzer, the South, her writing process, and the role of poetry.

Wojahn, David. “History Shaping Selves: Four Poets.” Southern Review 43, no. 1 (Winter, 2007): 218-231. Discusses Native Guard as revealing growth in Trethewey’s technical skill and as further developing themes she treated in her two previous volumes.

Young, Kevin. Review of Domestic Work. Ploughshares 26, no. 4 (Winter, 2000): 205. Refers to motifs of hands at work, of photography, and of absence. Observes Trethewey’s attention to poetic form.