Tag Archives: American poets

StAnza 2011 poet Natasha Trethewey appointed US Poet Laureate

7 Jun

Natasha Trethewey: Photo image © Matt Valentine

StAnza folk were delighted to hear that Natasha Trethewey has been appointed US Poet Laureate. Natasha appeared at StAnza 2011 and her elegant, passionate poetry was a highlight of last year’s memorable festival. She teaches creative writing at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia and previous plaudits include the Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection,  Native Guard, which explored the impact of the Civil War.  The Mississippi-born African-American poet is currently poet laureate of  that state. She is a chronicler of the American South, and her recent work includes a non-fiction book, Beyond Katrina, A Meditation on the Gulf Coast. Her poetry touches upon the personal and political and this comment by James H Billington of the Library of Congress (the body which appoints the Poet Laureate) sums her impact the best. ‘Her poems dig beneath the surface of history — personal or communal, from childhood or from a century ago — to explore the human struggles that we all face.’ You can hear her reading a poem at StAnza here

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Jane Hirshfield at the Scottish Poetry Library: bringing back memories of StAnzas past

14 Apr

Jane Hirshfield made a welcome return to Scotland yesterday with a reading at the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh. Her new book, Come, Thief, is a meditation on time and the fragility of life and it ranges in subject from the pleasures of daily chores to musings on the lost poems of Sappho and many observations of human nature as part of the natural world – a relationship we often forget: A dog coming in from the rain is ‘A chaotic rainstorm/Walking on four big paws’ and melons in a field are viewed sensously: ‘An unexpected weight/the sign of their ripeness.’  Or there is this, the poignant opening to a poem about someone’s decline in old age: ‘November. One pear/Sways on the tree past leaves, past reason.’

In the audience were many who first saw Jane at StAnza 2005 and the poet herself recalled how important that festival visit was in bringing her work to the UK. Bloodaxe publisher Neil Astley, who was also at the festival, went on to publish her work: her collected volume Each Happiness Ringed by Lions and the collection,  After, which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot prize in 2006. Find out more about them at Bloodaxe.

Jane gave an inspiring talk about her own poetry practice after her reading. For some similar thoughts, listen to Jane talking about her work to SPL podcaster Ryan van Winkle here

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