Overheard in the First Grade
Poetry Friday: The Neuroscience of Mother Goose

More Natasha Trethewey

Don't miss the current issue of the online journal Bookslut, where you'll find a good interview of the poet Natasha Trethewey, the Emory professor who won a Pulitzer for her collection Native Guard.  Wendy Anderson asks, "Do  you think a lot of people today live lives bereft of poetry?" Trethewey answers,

I try to inculcate in my students a love for  poetry, so that when they leave the class they think they like it.

One of the most wonderful things happened to me. I had a reading in Charleston, North Carolina [after she won the Pulitzer], and my husband went with me -- it was my birthday. We needed maintenance on the air conditioner of our hotel. A man came and fixed it, and waited with us for 10 to 15 minutes to see if it would kick in. We had a bottle of champagne a friend had sent, and this man asked about it. My husband told him, and he was very impressed. He opened my book to my poem “Incident.” He looked at it and read it out loud. Then he put it down and folded his hands in front of him, and recited Countee Cullen’s "Incident" [a short, powerful poem from 1925 that still resonates, about an African-American boy remembering only of his visit to Baltimore that a white boy he smiled at called him a derogatory name]. I found that stunning. This guy carried around in his memory that poem. I like to think lots of people carry around poetry.

As I noted before, Trethewey writes for adults, not children, but I think that teenagers would be interested in her work.

Thanks to the blog Quiet Bubble, for alerting readers to this interview.


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That is an EXTREMELY cool story.

I thought it was awesome, too, Jules.

Natasha is amazing. I think I wrote here before how she was artist in resident at my school last year and did some wonderful work with our fourth graders. I'm just about to try to replicate what she did.

Monica, I know that experience was great. I hope you'll tell us how the poetry project goes this year. My son wrote a haiku last year when his class was studying Japan. I couldn't have been more surprised.

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