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Tonight’s the Night!

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It’s hard to believe that tonight Natasha Trethewey will conclude her laureateship. Just to remind you, here are the details:

Wednesday, May 14, 7:00 PM

Natasha Trethewey will deliver her final lecture to conclude her second term as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry and the spring literary season at the Library of Congress.

Location: Coolidge Auditorium, Thomas Jefferson Building (ground floor)
Contact: (202) 707-5394

The event has gotten great publicity, including an lengthy article in Natasha’s hometown newspaper and a follow-up in the Poetry Foundation blog. Our phones have been ringing off the hook for days about the event as well, and I’ve heard of many who will be coming to see our 19th Poet Laureate for the last time in the role. So please come early to get a good seat!

Natasha Trethewey after her Opening Reading in September, 2012.
Natasha Trethewey after her opening reading as Poet Laureate, in September, 2012.

For me, tonight’s event will be a bittersweet moment. To help with Natasha’s laureateship, to be in the Poetry and Literature Center office while she held “Office Hours” and see her signature project, “Where Poetry Lives,” come to life—it has been the kind of work I worked my whole life to prepare for. And it has gone by so quickly—I can feel the great rush of the present turning to the past, becoming part of our history.

Natasha’s time in our office has been truly historic, and with its conclusion she will take her rightful place among our successful multi-term laureates. She will prove an example for laureates to come, who want to use the position to celebrate and champion poetry across the country.

But let me also say this: in the past two years I’ve learned so much from my old grad school classmate, who has become a dear friend. I’ve realized poetry is uniquely adept at moving between past and present, between our own memories and our collective history. I’ve seen how a poem can give voice to those who are otherwise forgotten, and speak in a language that matters so much now. And I’ve felt the unifying compassion poetry can contain—how it can bridge the divide of our political and cultural differences. For all of this I cannot thank our dear Natasha enough.