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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 811.6/Trethewey Checked In
Saint Paul, Minn. : Graywolf Press c2000.
Item Description
"Winner of the 1999 Cave Canem Poetry Prize."
Physical Description
xii, 58 p. ; 23 cm
Lillian Smith Book Award, 2001
Main Author
Natasha D. Trethewey, 1966- (-)
Other Authors
Rita Dove (-)
  • Gesture of a woman-in-process
  • At the Owl Club, North Gulfport, Mississippi, 1950
  • Three photographs
  • Domestic work, 1937
  • Speculation, 1939
  • Secular
  • Signs, Oakvale, Mississippi, 1941
  • Expectant
  • Tableau
  • At the station
  • Naola Beauty Academy, New Orleans, 1945
  • Drapery Factory, Gulfport, Mississippi, 1956
  • His hands
  • Self-employment, 1970
  • Early evening, Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Cameo
  • Hot combs
  • Family portrait
  • Mythmaker
  • Amateur fighter
  • Flounder
  • White lies
  • Microscope
  • Saturday matinee
  • History lesson
  • Saturday drive
  • Accounting
  • Gathering
  • Give and take
  • Housekeeping
  • Picture gallery
  • Collection day
  • Carpenter bee
  • Limen.
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

With poems based on photographs of African-Americans at work in the pre-civil rights era 20th-century America (not included), Trethewey's fine first collection functions as near-social documentary. In tableaux like "These Photographs" and "Signs, Oakvale, Mississippi, 1941," Trethewey evenly takes up the difficult task of preserving, and sometimes speculating upon, the people and conditions of the mostly Southern, mostly black working class. The sonnets, triplets and flush-left free verse she employs give the work an understated distance, and Trethewey's relatively spare language allows the characters, from factory and dock workers to homemakers, to take on fluid, present-tense movement: "Her lips tighten speaking/ of quitting time when/ the colored women filed out slowly/ to have their purses checked,/ the insides laid open and exposed/ by the boss's hand" ("Drapery Factory, Gulfport, Mississippi, 1956"). When Trethewey, a member of the Dark Room Collective (a group of young African-American writers including Thomas Sayers Ellis, Kevin Young and Janice Lowe), turns midway through the book to matters of family and autobiography, the book loses some momentum. But when the speaker comments on the actions of others, as in "At the Station," the poems correspondingly deepen: "Come back. She won't. Each/ glowing light dims/ the farther it moves from reach,// the train pulling clean/ out of the station. The woman sits/ facing where she's been.// She's chosen her place with care / each window another eye, another/ way of seeing what's back there." Trethewey's work follows in the wake of history and memory, tracing their combined effect on her speaker and subjects, and working to recover and preserve vitally local histories. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Mississippi native Natasha Trethewey, author of Bellocq's Ophelia and Domestic Work, has been awarded the Grolier Poetry Prize and a Pushcart Prize. Her work was also included in The Best American Poetry 2000. Trethewey now lives in Decatur, Georgia, and is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University. Winner of the 1999 Cave Canem Poetry PrizeWinner of the 2001 Lillian Smith Book AwardWinner of the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters AwardIn this widely celebrated debut collection of poems, Natasha Trethewey draws moving domestic portraits of families, past and present, caught in the act of earning a living and managing their households. Small moments taken from a labor-filled day—and rendered here in graceful and readable verse—reveal the equally hard emotional work of memory and forgetting, the extraordinary difficulty of trying to live with or without someone. "Trethewey's first book, which creates a picture of African-Americans at work, is carefully rendered from old photos, history, and memory with a loving and thoughtful eye. Her work raises one's conscience with the truths inherent in simple word combinations . . . and the care taken in ordering the pieces leads the reader from one poem to the next in graceful order."—Christian Science Monitor"Trethewey's book puts women's work, and, in particular, black women's work, the hard unpretty background music of our survival, in its proper perspective. For all her meticulous control and subtle perception, this is a revolutionary book that cuts right through to the deepest places in the soul."—Toi Derricotte"Trethewey's first volume of poems, Domestic Work, marks the addition of a valuable new voice to the varied cacophony of contemporary American poetry."—Oxford American"In a voice confident, diverse, and directed, Trethewey's Domestic Work does what a first book should, and more."—Ploughshares"Trethewey's Domestic Work depicts an arresting psychological landscape. Her mirrors sway light and shadow over sharp portraits of people in a world between worlds. Yet, their rituals and obsessions make them like us. Seemingly straightforward and plainly spoken, woven of what dares to sound everyday, these poignant narratives are deceptive as they throw an emotional cast and the reader is beckoned to a place like no other."—Yusef Komunyakaa "Trethewey's first book uses simple details to create an image of a people and the things that shape their world. The world is accessible, but in itself is not simple. It has beauty to it."—Mid-American Review"Trethewey's fine first collection functions as near-social documentary . . . Trethewey evenly takes up the difficult task of preserving, and sometimes speculating upon, the people and conditions of the mostly Southern, mostly black working class."—Publishers Weekly"The plain language and surface simplicity of these poems is deceptive. Their insights into the history and experience of black Americans contain a profound message for all of us . . . [This is] a noteworthy debut by a remarkable young poet."—Kirkus Reviews"Selected by former poet laureate Rita Dove for the 1999 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, this debut is a marvelously assured collection exploring African-American heritage, civil rights, the work of women, and the sensuous work of the spirit. These exquisite poems are full of individuals who live, hurt, jazz, love, celebrate, sing, and, of course, work with dignity."—Herman Fong, The Odyssey Bookshop (South Hadley, MA)