Essay Tretheway

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Poète de l’ekphrasis, Natasha Trethewey (prix Pulitzer et Poète Lauréat 2012) est l’une des grandes voix de la poésie américaine contemporaine. She writes formal poems, arranging her artfully chosen words into “elegant envelopes,” as she calls her sonnets, villanelles, ghazals, and pantoums. Another poem in that collection performs a reenactment of a famous portrait of the southern Fugitive poets. Trethewey paints her own clear pictures for her readers and then transitions smoothly into the abstract conundrums of America’s history — race, gender, and colonialism.

Dans une langue choisie et arrangée avec soin dans « d’élégantes enveloppes » formelles, elle présente les tenancières des maisons closes de la Nouvelle-Orléans photographiées par Bellocq, revisite le célèbre portrait des Fugitifs (mouvement poétique fondé dans le sud des États-Unis dans les années 1920) ou encore dissèque la taxonomie des portraits de castes à Mexico, au (2012) composent un triptyque où le fil autobiographique croise la trame de l’Histoire des États-Unis. She says, “I want the largest possible audience of people to be welcomed into my poems and to use the most important muscle human beings have, which is the muscle of empathy” (“Southern” 160).

In (2012), Trethewey creates a triptych of her personal story painted onto the canvas of America’s public history.

This article presents both the visual catalysts of Trethewey’s poetry and the poetic results.

The three poems that follow—“Providence,” “Liturgy,” and Believer”—are taken from her book-length meditation on the impact of the 2005 storm.

Trethewey was educated at the University of Georgia, Hollins University, and the University of Massachusetts. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and recipient of fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.In 2013 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2017 she received the Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities.Trethewey est née d’un père blanc, Canadien d’origine, et d’une mère afro-américaine originaire du Mississippi, assassinée par son second mari. Through self-reflection, Trethewey discovers the meaning of her personal experiences and then she marries memory and history, the personal and the public.(2012) as a triptych and thus suggesting a concrete visual reference in which the sacred and the secular, the Virgin Mary at the annunciation in the center panel and the patron among the saints in the wing panels, may help us to see Trethewey, at the center of her poetry, simultaneously painting her story onto a canvas of the American history that has been erased, ignored, or forgotten.But it is her general concern with history and current events that is the focus of the poems here.“Native Guard” is a poem sequence constructed out of the history of an all-black Union Army regiment composed mostly of former slaves.We can choose her personal story or the public history, but both are present if we are willing to see. Trethewey positions the reader in Ophelia’s world by historically contextualizing black women with an opening epigraph by Toni Morrison: “She had nothing to fall back on; not maleness, not whiteness, not ladyhood, not anything.And out of the profound desolation of her reality she may well have invented herself” ( [1], Morrison 1971: 24).The books as a whole are greater than the sum of their individual poems as they reveal the history that has been erased, ignored, or forgotten.Each public history, once examined, reveals itself to be a palimpsest. Bellocq’s photographs of the prostitutes in New Orleans.


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