Native Guard

Native Guard

Book - 2007
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Growing up in the Deep South, Natasha Trethewey was never told that in her hometown of Gulfport, Mississippi, black soldiers had played a pivotal role in the Civil War. Off the coast, on Ship Island, stood a fort that had once been a Union prison housing Confederate captives. Protecting the fort was the second regiment of the Louisiana Native Guards -- one of the Union's first official black units. Trethewey's new book of poems pays homage to the soldiers who served and whose voices have echoed through her own life.

The title poem imagines the life of a former slave stationed at the fort, who is charged with writing letters home for the illiterate or invalid POWs and his fellow soldiers. Just as he becomes the guard of Ship Island's memory, so Trethewey recalls her own childhood as the daughter of a black woman and a white man. Her parents' marriage was still illegal in 1966 Mississippi. The racial legacy of the Civil War echoes through elegiac poems that honor her own mother and the forgotten history of her native South. Native Guard is haunted by the intersection of national and personal experience.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2007, c2006.
Edition: First Mariner Books edition
ISBN: 9780618604630
Branch Call Number: 811.6 TRETHEWE
Characteristics: 51 pages ; 22 cm.


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May 17, 2018

This book of poetry speaks to the past and the present, treating these as highly connected and certainly still present. Growing up in MIssissippi and born to a mixed-race couple, she is acutely aware of slavery and its lingering effects. Some of the poems,
especially as her collection begins, show and share her grieving for her then recently deceased Mother. These are tender and compassionate portraits of her mother.
The title " Native Guard" opens the poems to the past, as Tretheway explores the civil war
and its effects on her native Mississippi. Highly recommended.

Mar 29, 2018

She takes the tangles of the past without straightening them to make something new.

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