An exquisite meditation on the geographies we inherit and the metaphors we inhabit, from Pulitzer Prize winner and nineteenth U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey
In a shotgun house in Gulfport, Mississippi, at the crossroads of Highway 49, the legendary highway of the Blues, and Jefferson Street, Natasha Trethewey learned to read and write. Before the land was a crossroads, however, it was a pasture: a farming settlement where, after the Civil War, a group of formerly enslaved women, men, and children made a new home.
In this intimate and searching meditation, Trethewey revisits the geography of her childhood to trace the origins of her writing life, born of the need to create new metaphors to inhabit “so that my story would not be determined for me.” She recalls the markers of history and culture that dotted the horizons of her youth: the Confederate flags proudly flown throughout Mississippi; her gradual understanding of her own identity as the child of a Black mother and a white father; and her grandmother’s collages lining the hallway, offering glimpses of the world as it could be. With the clarity of a prophet and the grace of a poet, Trethewey offers up a vision of writing as reclamation: of our own lives and the stories of the vanished, forgotten, and erased.