Native Guard

( 4 )


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 ...
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Native Guard

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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.

About the Author:
Natasha Trethewey teaches creative writing at Emory University

Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

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Editorial Reviews

Darryl Lorenzo Wellington
Trethewey's style is reserved, even cautious, though her subjects are emotionally charged, even violent. This creates an interesting dichotomy, especially in poems such as "Pastoral" with its touchy image of Trethewey confronting the great white Southern poets -- Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren and others -- while in blackface. Though this is her third book, Trethewey is still perfecting her voice and may have only scratched the surface of her remarkable talent.
— The washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Trethewey (Domestic Work) draws on the life of her deceased mother and on the history of Mississippi, where the poet and her mother's family grew up, to limn a multiracial South and her own multiracial heritage. One poem tries to preserve her mother's memory ("certain the sounds I make/ are enough to call someone home"); the title poem's set of linked sonnets, where the last line of each one becomes the first line of the next, presents black Union soldiers who "keep/ white men as prisoners-rebel soldiers,/ would-be masters." A pantoun remembers the night Trethewey's family discovered a burning cross on her lawn; the concluding poem condenses the poet's mixed-and compelling-feelings about "Mississippi, state that made a crime// of me-mulatto, half-breed, native-/ in my native land, this place they'll bury me." (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
AGERANGE: Ages 15 to adult.

“You can get there from here, though / there’s no going home. / Everywhere you go will be somewhere / you’ve never been.” With these provocative lines, Trethewey opens this slender collection and subconsciously sums up our reading experience at once. In a mere 26 poems she generates a convincing physical presence of the South, a poignant reflection on the Civil War and a personal contemporary world forever tied to it. As multifaceted and encompassing as this material is, however, her presentation is at the heart of this volume’s success. Perhaps because it is couched in a clear, disarmingly simple narration, Trethewey’s lyrical subtlety is both effective and surprising. “She is leaving behind / the dirt roads of Mississippi, the film / of red dust around her ankles, the thin / whistle of wind through the floorboards / of the shotgun house, the very idea of home.” And, despite her deep rooting in the perplexing concrete of place, history and her relationship to it, she transcends that world to challenge the indescribable, the unknowable. “What matters is context-- / the side of the road, or what my mother wanted / something I still can’t name: what, kneeling, / my face behind my hands, I might ask of God.” Native Guard, Trethewey’s third volume, attests to the many honors bestowed upon her, testifies to the skills and sensitivities of her artistic abilities. This is a strong example of what contemporary poetry can be. Reviewer: James Beschta
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

Library Journal
Inaugural winner of the Cave Caen Poetry Prize, Trethewey uses her third collection to explore Southern history, focusing her steadfast prose on African Americans mustered into the Union Army. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Trethewey serves our profound need for that rare thing—artistically fine Civil War poetry...She is our Native Guard."—David Madden, author of Sharpshooter

"The graceful form conceals a gritty subject...Trethewey has a gift for squeezing the contradictions of the South into very tightly controlled lines."—Book World The Washington Post

"[Native Guard] consistently presents Trethewey's belief that history is layered, full of bones and ghosts, and that the poet's job is to penetrate and expose." St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Trethewey is sure-handed in her use of language and fearless in confronting her own personal issues." The Advocate

"A moving testimony." Atlanta Journal Constitution

"Elegiac...eloquently told...profoundly moving...Trethewey is clearly a poet to savor."—Maxine Kumin

"In a very few years Natasha Trethewey has created a small body of nearly flawless poetry."—Rodney Jones

"[Natasha Tretheway’s] voice is a rare, beautiful gift to the reader."—William Ferris, Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History, UNC Chapel Hill

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439558874
  • Publisher: Baker & Taylor, CATS
  • Publication date: 7/10/2009
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 51
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

NATASHA TRETHEWEY is the current U.S. Poet Laureate and is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University. Native Guard, her third collection of poetry, received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize. Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was published in 2010. A new collection of poetry, Thrall, is forthcoming in September.

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Table of Contents

Theories of time and space 1
The southern crescent 5
Genus Narcissus 7
Graveyard blues 8
What the body can say 9
Photograph : ice storm, 1971 10
What is evidence 11
Letter 12
After your death 13
Myth 14
At dusk 15
Pilgrimage 19
Scenes from a documentary history of Mississippi 21
1 King Cotton, 1907
2 Glyph, Aberdeen 1913
3 Flood
4 You are late
Native guard 25
Again, the fields 31
Pastoral 35
Miscegenation 36
My mother dreams another country 37
Southern history 38
Blond 39
Southern gothic 40
Incident 41
Providence 42
Monument 43
Elegy for the native guards 44
South 45
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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