Small Things

Natasha Trethewey

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For those of you who don’t know it, April is National Poetry Month. I have always liked poetry in theory–and there are many poems that I truly enjoy, but I often overlook poetry for fiction when choosing something to read.

Last summer, a couple incidents inspired me to read more poetry. One of the incidents was hearing an interview on NPR with Natasha Trethewey, who had just been named our newest poet laureate. I thought she sounded interesting and I liked how she wrote many poems about both her mother’s experiences and her own, being a mixed-race child growing up in the South. I checked her (then) most-recent collection, Native Guard, from the library, and was floored. I later bought a copy of the collection and have also read her collection Thrall, which was published this past fall.

To read and hear some of Trethewey’s poetry, check out this page at the Poetry Foundation website:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/natasha-trethewey#about

This page also has some links to articles and the NPR interview:

http://www.blueflowerarts.com/natasha-trethewey

I haven’t found a (legitimately posted) version of her poem that first took my breath away, “Genus Narcissus” (in Native Guard). I can’t in good conscious post the whole thing here, but here is a short excerpt:

Childish vanity. I must have seen in them
some measure of myself–the slender stems,
each blossom a head lifted up

From “Genus Narcissus” by Natasha Trethewey

To hear the whole story (and this poem does have a story), get your hands on the book!

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