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Season 2, Episode 5: Author Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey, a 2021 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards winner for her searing and lyrical memoir about her mother, Gwendolyn Ann Turnbough, joins The Asterisk* to discuss epigraphs and erasure. Trethewey won a Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 2007 for “Native Guard” and served as the nation’s 19th poet laureate from 2012-2014.

She won the Anisfield-Wolf nonfiction prize for “Memorial Drive.” A-W Juror Simon Schama describes the prose in Trethewey’s memoir as “intensely poetic, but with an emotional economy that makes the gathering catastrophe even more overwhelming when it unfolds. I also want to stress her book is a compelling portrait of race in America, from the 1960s on. It’s a thrilling addition to American literature that will be read for many, many years to come as a classic not just of the memoir genre but any kind of contemporary writing.”

A native of Gulfport, Miss. – although an important part of her backstory resides in Ohio – Trethewey sat down in February 2022 to explain how she came to record the audiobook herself. She welcomed the Asterisk* into her home in Evanston, Ill., where she is a professor of English at Northwestern University.

In the aftermath of having won the Pulitzer, {my} book that when it first came out was dedicated to my mother in memory. And my intention then had been to create a monument as well. But what I realized afterwards, because I hadn’t said her name, I hadn’t included her name in the book, was that I had created a monument to Natasha Trethewey’s mother, not Gwendolyn Ann Turnbough.

Natasha Trethewey
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