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Poetry > Miscegenation by Natasha Trethewey

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message 1: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 856 comments I'm not sure about the correct protocol for posting, but I've been thinking about the recent death of Mildred Loving whose Supreme Court case struck down the laws preventing interracial marriage.

Pulitzer prize winning poet Natasha Trethewey was the daughter of parents who defied that unjust law, so I wanted to post this poem from her collection Native Guard.


In 1965 my parents broke two laws of Mississippi;
they went to Ohio to marry, returned to Mississippi.

They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name
begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong - mis in Mississippi.

A year later they moved to Canada, followed a route the same
as slaves, the train slicing the white glaze of winter, leaving Mississippi.

Faulkner's Joe Christmas was born in winter, like Jesus, given his name
for the day he was left at the orphanage, his race unknown in Mississippi.

My father was reading War and Peace when he gave me my name.
I was born near Easter, 1966, in Mississippi.

When I turned 33 my father said, It's your Jesus year - you're the same
age he was when he died. It was spring, the hills green in Mississippi.

I know more than Joe Christmas did. Natasha is a Russian name -
though I'm not; it means Christmas child, even in Mississippi.

message 2: by Ruth (last edited May 16, 2008 10:32PM) (new)

Ruth | 9418 comments Thank you, Mina. Very touching poem. train slicing the white glaze of winter, that is so beautiful.

And anyone is welcome to post a poem here at any time.

message 3: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 5969 comments Haunting poem, Mina. It is truly startling that this law was still on the books in 1965 even though I was in college then and should be very aware of it. With all of the progress that we still need to make, it is remarkable how much things have changed in my lifetime.

message 4: by Pamela (last edited May 17, 2008 07:11AM) (new)

Pamela | 127 comments This is a poem I love. Those three end-words haunt me. Native Guard deserves every prize it won. Thanks for posting it.

message 5: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 856 comments I realized that I should have included a short biography. This is from the Academy of American Poets:

Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, in 1966. She earned an M.A. in poetry from Hollins University and M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Massachusetts.

Her first collection of poetry, Domestic Work (2000), was selected by Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African American poet and won both the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry.

Since then, she has published two more collections of poetry, including Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), which received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and Bellocq's Ophelia (2002). Her work has appeared in Agni, The American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry, Callaloo, Gettysburg Review, The Massachusetts Review, New England Review, North American Review, and The Southern Review, among other magazines and anthologies.

She currently holds the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry at Emory University here in Atlanta.

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