Domestic work: poems

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Graywolf Press, Aug 1, 2000 - Poetry - 58 pages
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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 Prize
Winner of the 2001 Lillian Smith Book Award
Winner of the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award

In 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)

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Trethewey's verse explores the various forms of labor—from the men on the docks to the women employed as domestics. Of a photograph of washerwomen taken by Clifton Johnson in 1902, Trethewey writes ... Read full review

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User Review  - JillKenna - LibraryThing

This took me a little while to get through but I really loved the poems in this collection. Read full review


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About the author (2000)

Natasha Trethewey is the author of two previously published collections, Belloq's Ophelia and Domestic Work. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, she was the recipient of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Grolier Poetry Prize, and a Pushcart Prize. She teaches creative writing at Emory University.

Rita Dove, former U.S. Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner,Rita Dove, former U.S. Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, and musician, lives in Charlottesville, where she is Common and musician, lives in Charlottesville, where she is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia. wealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

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