Natasha Trethewey to be named the 27th U.S. Poet Laureate

Pultizer Prize winning poet, Natasha Trethewey, 46, will be named the 27th Poet Laureate of the U.S. today.

Ms. Trethewey said her poetry career began as a response to a horrific tragedy -- when she was a freshman in college, her stepfather murdered her mother. Trethewey used poetry to help her make sense of her loss.

Ms. Trethewey is a professor of creative writing and English at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

Ms. Trethewey's appointment is noteworthy for many reasons -- she is the first U.S. top poet from the South since Robert Penn Warren was named Poet Laureate in 1986. (Prior to 1986, the position was known as U.S. Consultant in Poetry). Trethewey is the first African American PL since Rita Dove's appointment in 1993. She is the first ever poet to serve as poet laureate at the same time at the national AND state level -- In January of this year Ms. Tretheway was named Mississippi's Poet Laureate (a four-year appointment) by Gov. Haley Barbour.

In 2007, she received the Pulitzer Prize for Native Guard, a collection of poems that focuses on her lifelong fascination with the role of black troops in the Civil War.

Ms. Tretheway's official duties as the nation's Top Poet begin in September of this year which is when her fourth collection of poems, Thrall: Poems will be released.

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what is a Poet Laureate?