Commencement Speaker: U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey

November 20, 2013

Knox College Commencement

Knox College announced today that Poet Laureate of the United States Natasha Trethewey will be the speaker at the 2014 Commencement exercises to be held in June. Trethewey is the nation's nineteenth Poet Laureate and the author of four collections of poetry, Domestic Work (2000); Bellocq's Ophelia (2002); Native Guard (2006) -- for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize -- and, most recently, Thrall (2012). (Above, Natasha Trethewey, photo by Joel Benjamin; Knox College Commencement file photo.)

Knox will award honorary degrees to Trethewey, anthropologist Alan Harn and jazz artist Ramsey Lewis.

"It is an honor and a privilege to have our country's Poet Laureate deliver this year's Commencement address," says Knox College President Teresa Amott. "From its earliest days in which students organized literary societies to the present-day awards garnered by our student literary publications, Knox College has always sought to honor the poetic imagination. The selection of a poet as this year's speaker affirms the critical role of the arts and humanities in the lives of our students and graduates."

Natasha Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi. She earned an M.A. in poetry from Hollins University and M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Massachusetts. Her first collection of poetry, Domestic Work, was selected by Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African American poet and won both the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry. She has published three more collections of poetry and one book of nonfiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which appeared in 2010.

Trethewey's many awards and honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She has held appointments at Duke University, as the Lehman Brady Joint Chair Professor of Documentary and American Studies; the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; and Yale University, where she was the James Weldon Johnson Fellow in African American Studies at the Beinecke Library. She currently serves as the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University. In 2012, she was named Poet Laureate of the State of Mississippi and the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States.

The 2014 Knox College Commencement will be held on June 7 at 10:00 am on the South Lawn of Old Main on the Knox College campus. It is free and open to the public.