JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey is speaking at two Mississippi universities this week and will read poems from her new book, "Thrall."
The 46-year-old Gulfport native appears at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Delta State University in Cleveland, in Studio A of the Delta Music Institute.
Her second appearance is 3 p.m. Thursday at Jackson State University, in the Dollye M.E. Robinson College of Liberal Arts Building.
Both events are free and open to the public.
Trethewey, a professor of English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for her collection "Native Guard."
She was named Mississippi's poet laureate in January, for a four-year term. The Library of Congress named her the nation's 19th poet laureate in June and she started in the one-year post this month. She is the first person to serve simultaneously as poet laureate for the nation and a state.
Trethewey gave her first reading as U.S. poet-in-chief last Thursday at the Library of Congress in Washington.
Don Allen Mitchell, assistant professor of English at Delta State, helped arrange her campus visit this week, just as he did when she appeared there in October 2007.
"She understands that memory has a special resonance in Mississippi and in the Delta," Mitchell said in a news release.
"Thrall" was published in August and, like Trethewey's previous collections, it focuses on history and memory. In the new book, she writes about colonialism in the Americas and about her complicated relationship with her father, who's also a poet.
Trethewey is the daughter of an African-American mother and white father. In "Miscegenation," one of the poems in "Native Guard," Trethewey wrote about her parents' journey to Ohio to marry in 1965:
"They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name "begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong — mis in Mississippi."
"Native Guard" focused on two topics. One is the history of the Louisiana Native Guard, a black Civil War regiment assigned to Ship Island off the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The other is the personal history of Trethewey's own mother, who was killed two decades ago by a stepfather Trethewey always feared.
Trethewey lived in Gulfport until she was 6. That's when her parents divorced and she moved with her mother to Atlanta. Every summer until she graduated high school in 1984, Trethewey split her time between Gulfport, where her mother's extended family still lived; and New Orleans, where her father, Eric Trethewey, was an English professor at Tulane University.