Winner of the National Book Award for Poetry 2010
Synopses & Reviews
19th Poet Laureate of the United States
“A powerful, beautifully crafted book.”—The Washington Post
“Ripe with the perfidies and paradoxes of thralldom both personal and public, it is utterly elegant.”—Elle
Charting the intersections of public and personal history, Thrall explores the historical, cultural, and social forces that determine the roles to which a mixed-race daughter and her white father are consigned. In a brilliant series of poems about the taxonomies of mixed unions, Natasha Trethewey creates a fluent and vivid backdrop to her own familial predicament. While tropes about captivity, bondage, knowledge, and enthrallment permeate the collection, Trethewey unflinchingly examines our shared past by reflecting on her history of small estrangements and by confronting the complexities of race and the deeply ingrained and unexamined notions of racial difference in America.
“Natasha Trethewey’s Thrall is simply the finest work of her already distinguished career . . . Rarely has any poetic intersection of cultural and personal histories felt more inevitable, more painful, or profound.” —David St. John, author of The Face: A Novella in Verse
“A voice that not only expands the position of [poetry], but helps us better understand ourselves. Her poems tell stories of loss and reckoning, both personal and historical.” —Dr. James Billington, Librarian of Congress
"The deservedly acclaimed Hayes returns in his fourth book with the kinds of sly, twisting, hip, jazzy poems his fans have come to expect, but also with a new somberness of tone and mature caution. 'You can spend your whole life/ doing no more than preparing for life and thinking/ 'Is this all there is?' ' warns the book's opening poem. Later, in a book that thinks hard about fatherhood, family, and mortality, Hayes asks, 'Who cannot think// Our elegies are endless endlessly and the words/ We put to them too often unheard and hurried?' Elsewhere, Hayes treats memory with his signature wit: 'I believe, as the elephant must,/ that everything is punctured by the tusks of Nostalgia.' The book also contains a surprisingly effective series of poems based on a form called 'pecha kucha,' which, Hayes explains, is a type of Japanese business presentation in which the presenter must riff on a series of slides or images; Hayes adapts this form by bracketing the title or 'slide' he's riffing on ('The Magic of Magic' and 'The Function of Fiction' are two examples) and following with a four- or five-line stanza. The poems free-associate through their triggers, but images and themes satisfyingly resurface. Hayes, now entering mid-career, remains one of our best poets." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Winner of the 2010 National Book Award for Poetry
In his fourth collection, Terrance Hayes investigates how we construct experience. With one foot firmly grounded in the everyday and the other hovering in the air, his poems braid dream and reality into a poetry that is both dark and buoyant. Cultural icons as diverse as Fela Kuti, Harriet Tubman, and Wallace Stevens appear with meditations on desire and history. We see Hayes testing the line between story and song in a series of stunning poems inspired by the Pecha Kucha, a Japanese presentation format. This innovative collection presents the light- headedness of a mind trying to pull against gravity and time. Fueled by an imagination that enlightens, delights, and ignites, Lighthead leaves us illuminated and scorched.
A dazzling new collection of poetry by Terrance Hayes, the National Book Awardwinning author of Lighthead
In How to Be Drawn, his daring fifth collection, Terrance Hayes explores how we see and are seen. While many of these poems bear the clearest imprint yet of Hayess background as a visual artist, they do not strive to describe art so much as inhabit it. Thus, one poem contemplates the
principle of blind contour drawing while others are inspired by maps, graphs, and assorted artists. The formal and emotional versatilities that distinguish Hayess award-winning poetry are unified by existential focus. Simultaneously complex and transparent, urgent and composed, How to Be Drawn is a mesmerizing achievement.
The Pulitzer Prize–winning Native Guard explored Natasha Trethewey’s relationship with her black mother. Her new collection of poems, Thrall, takes on the uneasy relationship between Trethewey and her white father. It charts the intersections of public and personal history that determine the roles to which a mixed-race daughter and her white father are consigned.
“A powerful, beautifully crafted book.”—The Washington Post
“A voice that not only expands the position of [poetry], but helps us better understand ourselves. Her poems tell stories of loss and reckoning, both personal and historical.”—Dr. James Billington, Librarian of Congress
The stunning follow-up volume to her 2007 Pulitzer Prize–winning Native Guard, by America’s 2012 Poet Laureate
Natasha Trethewey’s poems are at once deeply personal and historical—exploring her own interracial and complicated roots—and utterly American, connecting them to ours. The daughter of a black mother and white father, a student of history and of the Deep South, she is inspired by everything from colonial paintings of mulattos and mestizos to the stories of people forgotten by history. Meditations on captivity, knowledge, and inheritance permeate Thrall, as she reflects on a series of small estrangements from her poet father and comes to an understanding of how, as father and daughter, they are part of the ongoing history of race in America.
Thrall confirms not only that Natasha Trethewey is one of our most gifted and necessary poets but that she is also one of our most brilliant and fearless.
About the Author
Terrance Hayes received an MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh. He was the recipient of a 1999 Whiting Writers Award, and his first collection of poetry, Muscular Music, was the winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award in 2000. He is currently an assistant professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
Table of Contents
Miracle of the Black Leg 9
On Captivity 13
1. DE ESPAÑOL Y DE INDIA PRODUCE MESTIZO 16
2. DE ESPAÑOL Y NEGRA PRODUCE MULATO 19
3. DE ESPAÑOL Y MESTIZA PRODUCE CASTIZA 22
4. THE BOOK OF CASTAS 24
Kitchen Maid with Supper at Emmaus; or, The Mulata 27
The Americans 33
1. DR. SAMUEL ADOLPHUS CARTWRIGHT ON
DISSECTING THE WHITE NEGRO, 1851 33
2. BLOOD 34
3. HELP, 1968 35
Mano Prieta 37
De Español y Negra; Mulata 39
1. NOSTOS 41
2. QUESTIONS POSED BY THE DREAM 42
3. SIREN 43
Torna Atrás 48
Bird in the House 50
How the Past Comes Back 72
On Happiness 74
Vespertina Cognitio 75