Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in the Creative Writing department, Emory professor of English and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey joined the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame last week.
The Hall of Fame was established in April 2000 by the University of Georgia Libraries to “recognize Georgia writers, past and present, whose work reflects the character of the state — its land and its people,” according to its website.
In order to be nominated, writers must be either native to Georgia or a resident who has produced a significant work in the state.
In 2007, Trethewey was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her 2006 Native Guard, a three-part collection including elegies to her late mother, a series of poems written in the voice of a black soldier fighting in the Civil War and a section of autobiographical poems.
Trethewey, who began her position as a part of Emory’s faculty in 2001, was also named the Georgia Woman of the Year in 2008.
Being selected as one of this year’s honorees, Trethewey said, presents a different honor than that of many of the other awards she has received during her career.
“My home state is Mississippi, but I grew up in the state of Georgia. So in many ways I am receiving an honor from my adopted state,” Trethewey, who moved to Georgia when she was six years old, explained.
The honor makes her “feel welcome” in Georgia and is a “recognition in history for posterity,” Trethewey said.
Nominations for the Hall of Fame are open to the public, and winners are determined each spring by a board of 12 to 20 judges.
Among them are the librarian of the University of Georgia Libraries, the director of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, a number of appointees and the previous year’s honorees.
“It’s pretty exciting to know that somebody thinks my name should be included in that pantheon of writers,” Trethewey said.
Past honorees have included prominent authors such as 2000 honoree Martin Luther King, Jr., 2000 honoree Flannery O’Connor, 2001 honoree Alice Walker and 2006 honoree Jimmy Carter.
Other inductees this year include journalist and author Melissa Fay Greene, essayist and novelist James Kilgo and lyricist, songwriter and singer Johnny Mercer.
— Contact Alice Chen