Poetry Book Club: Natasha Trethewey, Monument

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Layering joy and urgent defiance—against physical and cultural erasure, against white supremacy whether intangible or graven in stone—Trethewey’s work gives pedestal and witness to unsung icons. Monument, Trethewey’s first retrospective, draws together verse that delineates the stories of working class African American women, a mixed-race prostitute, one of the first black Civil War regiments, mestizo and mulatto figures in Casta paintings, Gulf coast victims of Katrina. Through the collection, inlaid and inextricable, winds the poet’s own family history of trauma and loss, resilience and love.
In this setting, each section, each poem drawn from an “opus of classics both elegant and necessary,”* weaves and interlocks with those that come before and those that follow. As a whole, Monument casts new light on the trauma of our national wounds, our shared history. This is a poet’s remarkable labor to source evidence, persistence, and strength from the past in order to change the very foundation of the vocabulary we use to speak about race, gender, and our collective future.


“The Mississippi-born poet Natasha Trethewey has an exalted résumé . . . but her poems are earthy; they fly close to the ground . . . Trethewey pivots knowingly, in her poetry, between hard times and good ones. The delicate branches of her verse run you along a harrowing borderline of substance and illusion . . . [Trethewey has an] insistent intellect and [a] gift for turning over rich soil . . . The human details in Trethewey’s work—those crabs, that music, those cracked palms—are like the small feathers that give contour to a bird’s wing. Monument is a major book, and in her best poems this poet soars.”—Dwight Garner, New York Times

“This collection of old and new poems by the former poet laureate of the United States includes Trethewey’s powerful reflections on the way our nation contends with its diversity and memorializes its past. Think you’re not a poetry person? Think again. Trethewey’s verse is as accessible as it is brilliant.”—Washington Post

Natasha Trethewey is the author of two previously published collections, Belloq's Ophelia and Domestic Work. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, she was the recipient of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Grolier Poetry Prize, and a Pushcart Prize. She teaches creative writing at Emory University.


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Monument: Poems New and Selected Cover Image
ISBN: 9780358118237
Availability: Available - We'll have it for you ASAP!
Published: Mariner Books - November 5th, 2019

Event date: 
Monday, June 21, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Event address: 
304 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC 27401