The Quarantine Tapes

The Quarantine Tapes 145: Natasha Trethewey

Episode Summary

“Contending with this immeasurable grief is what made me a writer.”

Episode Notes

Guest host Eddie Glaude is joined by poet Natasha Trethewey on episode 145 of The Quarantine Tapes. Natasha’s most recent book is her memoir, Memorial Drive. In their conversation, Eddie asks her about the process of writing and releasing that book into this moment of political and social reckoning.

Natasha offers a deep look at her process of crafting this book in an emotional and thoughtful episode. She talks about why she found it so important to tell her mother’s story in this book and how she took control of that narrative in her writing process. Eddie and Natasha’s conversation is warm, familiar, and wide-reaching, ranging from comparing gumbo recipes to parsing the role of silence in writing.


Natasha Trethewey served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States (2012-2014). She is the author of five collections of poetry, Monument (2018), which was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award; Thrall (2012); Native Guard (2006), for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002); and Domestic Work (2000), which 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. She is also the author of the memoir Memorial Drive(2020). Her book of nonfiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, appeared in 2010. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. At Northwestern University she is a Board of Trustees Professor of English in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. In 2012 she was named Poet Laureate of the State of Mississippi and in 2013 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.