Reader, August 13, 2007 (view all comments by Reader)
It's so rare to find a poet who can plumb both personal and historical dimensions in the same work. "Native Guard" is a powerful example of the blend of confessional and Bardic traditions of poetry. Moving and finely wrought.
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by Maxine Kumin,
"Elegiac...eloquently told...profoundly moving...Trethewey is clearly a poet to savor."
by Rodney Jones,
"In a very few years Natasha Trethewey has created a small body of nearly flawless poetry."
by William Ferris, Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History, UNC Chapel Hill,
"[Natasha Tretheway's] voice is a rare, beautiful gift to the reader."
by David Madden, Louisiana State University, author of Sharpshooter: A Novel of the Civil War,
"Natasha Trethewey serves our profound need for that rare thing — artistically fine Civil War poetry...She is our Native Guard."
Through elegiac verse that honors her mother and tells of her own fraught childhood, Natasha Trethewey confronts the racial legacy of her native Deep South — where one of the first black regiments, the Louisiana Native Guards, was called into service during the Civil War. Trethewey's resonant and beguiling collection is a haunting conversation between personal experience and national history.
Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, Natasha Tretheweys elegiac Native Guard is a deeply personal volume that brings together two legacies of the Deep South.
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 Tretheweys 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 mothers 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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