Domestic Work

Poems

By Natasha Trethewey
(Graywolf Press, Paperback, 9781555973094, 70pp.)

Publication Date: August 2000

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Description

Mississippi native Natasha Trethewey, author of Bellocq's Ophelia and Domestic Work, has been awarded the Grolier Poetry Prize and a Pushcart Prize. Her work was also included in The Best American Poetry 2000. Trethewey now lives in Decatur, Georgia, and is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University.
Winner of the 1999 Cave Canem Poetry Prize
Winner of the 2001 Lillian Smith Book Award
Winner of the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award

In this widely celebrated debut collection of poems, Natasha Trethewey draws moving domestic portraits of families, past and present, caught in the act of earning a living and managing their households. Small moments taken from a labor-filled day—and rendered here in graceful and readable verse—reveal the equally hard emotional work of memory and forgetting, the extraordinary difficulty of trying to live with or without someone.
"Trethewey's first book, which creates a picture of African-Americans at work, is carefully rendered from old photos, history, and memory with a loving and thoughtful eye. Her work raises one's conscience with the truths inherent in simple word combinations . . . and the care taken in ordering the pieces leads the reader from one poem to the next in graceful order."—Christian Science Monitor

"Trethewey's book puts women's work, and, in particular, black women's work, the hard unpretty background music of our survival, in its proper perspective. For all her meticulous control and subtle perception, this is a revolutionary book that cuts right through to the deepest places in the soul."—Toi Derricotte

"Trethewey's first volume of poems, Domestic Work, marks the addition of a valuable new voice to the varied cacophony of contemporary American poetry."—Oxford American

"In a voice confident, diverse, and directed, Trethewey's Domestic Work does what a first book should, and more."—Ploughshares

"Trethewey's Domestic Work depicts an arresting psychological landscape. Her mirrors sway light and shadow over sharp portraits of people in a world between worlds. Yet, their rituals and obsessions make them like us. Seemingly straightforward and plainly spoken, woven of what dares to sound everyday, these poignant narratives are deceptive as they throw an emotional cast and the reader is beckoned to a place like no other."—Yusef Komunyakaa

"Trethewey's first book uses simple details to create an image of a people and the things that shape their world. The world is accessible, but in itself is not simple. It has beauty to it."—Mid-American Review

"Trethewey's fine first collection functions as near-social documentary . . . Trethewey evenly takes up the difficult task of preserving, and sometimes speculating upon, the people and conditions of the mostly Southern, mostly black working class."—Publishers Weekly

"The plain language and surface simplicity of these poems is deceptive. Their insights into the history and experience of black Americans contain a profound message for all of us . . . [This is] a noteworthy debut by a remarkable young poet."—Kirkus Reviews

"Selected by former poet laureate Rita Dove for the 1999 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, this debut is a marvelously assured collection exploring African-American heritage, civil rights, the work of women, and the sensuous work of the spirit. These exquisite poems are full of individuals who live, hurt, jazz, love, celebrate, sing, and, of course, work with dignity."—Herman Fong, The Odyssey Bookshop (South Hadley, MA)




NPR
Friday, Jun 8, 2012

This week, the Library of Congress announced that Natasha Trethewey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Native Guard, will be the next poet laureate of the United States. Trethewey, a native of Mississippi, is the first Southern poet laureate since 1986. More at NPR.org

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NPR
Thursday, Jun 7, 2012

Natasha Trethewey, 46, is among the youngest U.S. poet laureates and only the second to hail from the South. Trethewey's work explores issues of mixed race, history and memory. "She's taking us into history that was never written," says Librarian of Congress James Billington. More at NPR.org

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