Natasha Trethewey

American Poet Laureate Visits Penryn Campus

Professor Natasha Trethewey, former American Poet Laureate, has completed a successful visit to the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus. 

Natasha Trethewey, whose father was a Canadian of Cornish descent, was appointed the 19th Poet Laureate for the United States of America in 2012. Prof Trethewey has published four collections of poetry, including Native Guard, for which she was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize. She is currently the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at the prestigious Emory University, where she is also Director of the Creative Writing programme. 

Prof Trethewey was greeted by large audiences as she gave a reading of her work at Falmouth Art Gallery on Wednesday 8th March and a public lecture on the University’s Penryn Campus on Thursday 9th March. Her poetry explores the memory and racial legacy of America, a topic which is currently at the very heart of global politics. Both the poetry reading and lecture provided a fascinating insight into how Prof Trethewey’s experiences of growing up in the American South contributed to the development of her work, while also reflecting on the valuable role poetry can play in addressing challenging social issues. Lively receptions followed both talks, giving both students and members of the local community the opportunity to meet the speaker for further discussion.

Dr Natalie Pollard, Lecturer in Modernist and Contemporary Literature, who organised the visit, said: "It was a more-than-full house the evening of Natasha's poetry reading, as members of the public and University packed out Falmouth Art Gallery, filling all the seats and standing in the aisles and the back".

“Eventgoers the next night at the public lecture said that 'Natasha's poetry was moving, poignant and thought provoking', and that her lecture offered the community a fresh understanding and experience of literature's global reach. Students commented that the talk and reading had fostered their sense of poetry's important role in public life. Many people said they were enthusiastic to attend more events organised by the University, particularly those dealing with the Cornish diaspora, and neglected aspects of heritage, racial politics and hybrid identity."

Date: 17 March 2017

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