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Thrall: Poems by Natasha Trethewey

Thrall: Poems (2012)

by Natasha Trethewey

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The only other book of poetry I've read by Natasha Trethewey was Native Guard, which I loved. Thrall was good but didn't hold up to that same standard for me. These poems all address the complicatedness of mixed race, whether by exploring classic paintings and art or Trethewey's own (or perhaps her narrator's, I know that's often different in poetry though these felt very personal) relationship with her white father. The ones on art were particularly challenging because the artwork was not included. The final poem, "The Illumination," was my favorite. ( )
  bell7 | Aug 1, 2017 |
Interesting, sometimes moving sequence of ekphrastic poems centering on paintings from the Renaissance through the 19th century depicting people of color. The poems are sometimes slightly precious, but the final part of the book, which includes poems about Juan de Pareja and the poet's father, is beautiful and challenging. Won me over. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
This is a fantastic book (as is her earlier book, Native Guard, which I read about six years ago). Natasha Trethewey's writing is superb. I am inspired by her use of ekphrasis to explore the lives of multiracial people, and moved by her poems about her relationship with her father. I think my favorite poem is the one about marginalia--"Illumination."
  Marjorie_Jensen | Nov 12, 2015 |
Thrall by Natasha Trethewey examines the lines between father and daughter and the African-American experience through a set of personal and analytical poems focused on race and culture. In “Miracle of the Black Leg,” Trethewey examines the juxtaposition of white and black men in paintings and other artwork in which the leg of one man is taken and attached to the thigh of another man. There are similarities in pain stricken faces in some images, paralleling their similar situations, but there are also clear disparities in how each man is treated, even if the leg is taken from a newly deceased person. The imagery she chooses in this poem is particularly haunting, especially when taken in the historical context of how the images are presented throughout the years — with the black donor swept to the side and only the black leg as a representation of the whole.

Read the full review: http://savvyverseandwit.com/2012/11/thrall-by-natasha-trethewey.html ( )
  sagustocox | Nov 16, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547571607, Hardcover)

The stunning follow-up volume to her 2007 Pulitzer Prize–winning Native Guard, by America’s new Poet Laureate

Natasha Trethewey’s poems are at once deeply personal and historical—exploring her own interracial and complicated roots—and utterly American, connecting them to ours. The daughter of a black mother and white father, a student of history and of the Deep South, she is inspired by everything from colonial paintings of mulattos and mestizos to the stories of people forgotten by history. Meditations on captivity, knowledge, and inheritance permeate Thrall, as she reflects on a series of small estrangements from her poet father and comes to an understanding of how, as father and daughter, they are part of the ongoing history of race in America.

Thrall confirms not only that Natasha Trethewey is one of our most gifted and necessary poets but that she is also one of our most brilliant and fearless.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:31 -0400)

By unflinchingly charting the intersections of public and personal history, Thrall explores the historical, cultural, and social forces-across time and space-that determine the roles consigned to a mixed-race daughter and her white father. In a vivid series of poems about interracial marriage depicted in the Casta Paintings of Colonial Mexico, Trethewey investigates the philosophical assumptions that underpin Enlightenment notions of taxonomy and classification, exposing the way they encode ideas of race within our collective imagination. While tropes about captivity, bondage, inheritance, and enthrallment permeate the collection, Trethewey, by reflecting on a series of small estrangements from her poet father, comes to an understanding of how, as father and daughter, they are part of the ongoing history of race in America.… (more)

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