For the next year, former U.S. Poet Laureate and Emory faculty member Natasha Trethewey will be the author of a weekly poetry column for The New York Times Magazine. Her first column is scheduled to appear Sunday, Feb. 22.
The column format will include a single poem selected by Trethewey from authors both national and international and from books either forthcoming or recently published. Trethewey will write a 70- to 100-word introduction that presents to readers a way of looking at the poem.
"It's very exciting that The New York Times wanted to do it, which is why, busy as I am, I felt this was something important to do for poetry in America," Trethewey says. "I'm hoping to introduce the public to poets they may not know anything about, and to poems, even if they generally don't read poetry."
Trethewey, who is Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing and director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory, was named 19th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in June 2012, and served two terms in the post.
Her appointment, which coincided with the 75th anniversary of the library's Poetry and Literature Center, was marked by outreach and travel across the nation. During her tenure she undertook a series of reports, titled "Where Poetry Lives," for PBS NewsHour with chief arts, culture and society correspondent Jeffrey Brown.
"The NewsHour series was showing the ways Americans are making use of poetry in their daily lives," says Trethewey. "This [column] is a way to show that poetry does matter."
Producing a weekly column demands that she work ahead (Trethewey has completed the first four already), and that the tone of her introduction is right.
"Because I live so much in the world of poetry, I can forget that there are a lot of people who don't have that language for talking about what they see in a poem," Trethewey says. "So I'm trying to find a common language that allows me to introduce a poem in such a way that any of us could find an entrance, a way into reading it and enjoying it."