I’m so excited about this cover story I wrote about Natasha Trethewey for the July/August 2020 issue of Poets & Writers, which is only available in print but you can order your copy here (better yet subscribe!)
I feel like I have been wanting to post about it since I got the assignment months ago, so now I’m bursting with joy and excitement. I wanted to just share some more about the wonder of Black creatives, the lessons we have across timelines & movements.
I thought when I read Memorial Drive that what magnetized me to Natasha Trethewey’s work was our common mother loss, but no, it was so much deeper than that. I loved and still do her resilience, her strength, her vulnerability and her focused ability to transmute pain into real, lasting beauty and triumph.
In our interview, I was honored that she trusted me so much to hold space for so much of her journey. She talked about going up to read her work and people introducing the life-shaping story of her mother’s death “with the word murder hanging in the air,” so her memoir was an opportunity to re-contextualize the life of her mother, the social worker and self-advocate who did not live because we have no way of really protecting victims of intimate partner violence and what a failure that is.
There’s so much more and I hope you will read the print issue. Here is more, another part that stays with me: “They have a saying in South Korea that you don’t bury a mother in the ground; you bury her in the chest, or you carry her corpse on your back…As much as I carry her corpse around, I have also planted my living mother in my chest, and she grows there continuously. I have both, two mothers.” May that offer some kind of comfort and/or recognition to all of us as we mourn not just our mothers, but Black daughters like Breonna Taylor & the many others whose names we can’t forget to keep saying.