Poet laureate to read work at ECU

Published 9:41 pm Monday, October 22, 2012

For the second year in a row, East Carolina University has scored a literary coup.
The school will have a visit from a U.S. poet laureate.
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey will visit East Carolina University Wednesday as part of the university’s Contemporary Writers Series.
She is the author of four poetry collections and a book of creative nonfiction.
The event came about because of Washington resident John Hoppenthaler, an associate professor of English and creative writing at ECU. He and Trethewey have been friends for years.
“What marks her work is that she manages to interweave historical information into it,” Hoppenthaler said.
Trethewey’s Pulitzer Prize was for “Native Guard,” a collection that blends Trethewey’s mixed racial heritage with the history of black Civil War soldiers.
“Their story wasn’t really being told anywhere,” Hoppenthaler said.
Even when she visited battle sites, Hoppenthaler said, tour guides and plaques on the sites did not mention black soldiers.
Trethewey is the first poet laureate from the South since 1986, when Robert Penn Warren was appointed by the Library of Congress. She was born in Gulfport, Miss., to a white father and black mother at a time when their marriage was illegal. Hoppenthaler said Trethewey’s latest book, “Thrall,” continues her investigation into self-identity and politics of being more than one race. She has also written about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on Mississippi. He will hold an informal question-and-answer session with Trethewey at the Greenville Museum of Art at 1 p.m. Wednesday
Trethewey will give a public reading of her work at 8 p.m. Wednesday in A.J. Fletcher Recital Hall on campus.
Her books will be available for purchase at both events, which are free and open the public.
Tickets for the public reading on campus are available through the ECU central ticket office, 328-4788. Hoppenthaler said Washington residents may email him to reserve tickets. His email address is HOPPENTHALERJ@ecu.edu.
For more information about Trethewey’s visit, contact Tom Douglass at 252-328-6723 or John Hoppenthaler at 252-328-5562.