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Native Guard: Poems Paperback – April 3, 2007
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Too many poets writing about themselves and their lives end up writing poems that mean something only to themselves. Natasha Trethewey isn't one of these poets. Though many of the poems in NATIVE GUARD grew out of the personal tragedy of her mother's murder, the poems aren't written in secret code, relying on private and indecipherable metaphor. Trethewey's poems are meaningful AND accessible--how many poems can you say that about?
The real trick to writing poetry today is to make what is personal (nearly every poet's subject) meaningful to readers who aren't you (and I don't mean critics). Trethewey does this through concrete imagery, precise diction, and sound--as in solid-- structure. You won't find the common abstractions that are supposed to leave you in awe--Tretheway's poems are easy to understand--on one level. When you return to them, though, they continue to reward you as you realize just how well crafted they are and how deep meaning runs.
She is a fine poet, and this collection is one of my favorites.
Other poems in the book seem to be weaved of red silk ribbon. So that in this landscape of poetry I will not lose my way. These poems are braids of love and hate, beauty and ugliness. These words are woven as tightly as a rag rug of different textures and shape. I did not count the number of times Natasha Tretheway wrote about photographs. She remembers the Civil war by looking at a picture. "Some send photographs - a likeness in case/ the body can't return." Here is another piece of American History in a photograph. "From the arch, / from every corner of the photograph, flags wave down, and great bales of cotton rise up from the ground./ I wonder if Natasha Trethewey might have used a photograph as another name for memory. Our mental memories are never snatched from our hands by another person. These memories can not become torn up by a jealous man or woman. I have heard when death approaches our past, the photos in our mind, moments we lived each day become more distinct than any present time. I like knowing my past will come to revisit me again during those last hours on earth before death proves itself the winner of my spirit. "Death stops the body's work; the soul's a journeyman.Read more ›
"It rained the whole time we were laying her down:
Rained from church to grave when we put her down.
The suck of mud at our feet was a hollow sound.
I wander now among names of the dead.
My mother's name, stone pillow for my head."
Finding portents in simple childhood acts, the more mature poet replays such impulses in a new light:
"how they'd dry like graveside flowers, rustling
when the wind blew- a whisper, treacherous,
from the sill. Be taken with yourself,
they said to me: Die early, to my mother."
Bi-racial, the poet blends the spirit of her parents with the inevitability of their destinies and the legacy to their child:
"Already the words are changing. She is changing
from colored to negro, black still years ahead.
This is 1966- she is married to a white man-
And there are more names for what grows inside her."
(My Mother Dreams Another Country)
Recounting the discoveries of childhood with a history in the south- war and miscegenation- I am struck by the poet's embrace of time and place, the troubled years of war and the ubiquitous presence of race in daily life; yet she instinctively draws beauty where there is none, an intimate awareness of her parentage and position in a black and white world she treads so intuitively. There is much to be learned simply by listening to Trethewey's words, caught in the magic of her introspective nature. Luan Gaines/ 2007.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very powerful emotions delineated in beautiful choice of words and subtle, sometimes unexpected painful stabs. Worthy of serious consideration. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Carolyn Wiljanen
Very interesting. I read up a little on the civil war and the poems were much more meaningful. Recommend.Published 2 months ago by KMK
Natasha has an excellent command of the English language, and a distinct talent for poetic prose. Both well researched and emotionally gripping; Native Guard is worth a read.Published 4 months ago by Levi Christopher Sorenson
I'm a huge fan of Trethewey . . . and this collection did not disappoint. Her use of metaphor mixed with personal life and history as well as broader his-story speaks to my... Read morePublished 6 months ago by anita
I have read all four of Tretheway's books of poetry since I started reading her in graduate school ten years ago. Read morePublished 6 months ago by C. D. Varn
I read "thrall" first and could not imagine another of N Threthewey's collection s being finer. There is no comparison. Each stands on its own. Read morePublished 7 months ago by mary-faith marriott
Very moving. I could not put it down until I had finished it. I am also planning to reread it, something I don't remember ever doing.Published 10 months ago by Irkutsk
I came to this collection after reading the wonderful poem "Myth" which appears within. I was surprised and disappointed to find it was one of the only stand out poems. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Naomi F