Today, Congress named a new Poet Laureate, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Tretheway. In case you’re not clear, the US Poet Laureate is our country’s official poet. They serve a one-year term and their role is to increase the national appreciation for the reading and writing of poetry. The US Poet Laureate is chosen by the Librarian of the US Congress, is an honor that’s been bestowed upon the likes of William Carlos Williams (1952); Robert Frost (1958); Gwendolyn Brooks (1985); Rita Dove (1993); and Billy Collins (2001), to name only a few.
Here’s a short profile of the 2012 Poet Laureate, who won the Pulitzer in 2006 for her poetry collection Native Guard, that ran today on the PBS Newshour:
Watch New Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey Explores Human Struggles on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.
Those of you who follow the black poetry scene will note that Natasha is on the faculty of Cave Canem, the preeminent organization for black poetry. Some context: Any black poetry worth their salt is a member of Cave Canem. Saying you’re a Cave Canem poet is similar shorthand to saying, “I went to Harvard.” No exaggeration here. In fact, this has been a banner year for Cave Canem poets: Kwame Dawes received a 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry; Toi Derricotte–who co-founded Cave Canem with Cornelius Eady–won the 2012 Paterson Prize; Carl Phillips won the LA Times Book Prize for Poetry; Tracy K. Smith won the 2012 Pulitzer; and Nikky Finney won this year’s National Book Award in Poetry.
Yeah, Cave Canem, bitches.
Anyway, congrats again to Natasha Tretheway.