African American History in Natasha Trethewey’s “Native Guard”

Яковенко, Ірина Василівна (2021) African American History in Natasha Trethewey’s “Native Guard” Синопсис: текст, контекст, медіа, 27 (4). pp. 224-230. ISSN 2311-259X

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The article presents interpretations of the poetry collection “Native Guard” of the American writer Natasha Trethewey – the Pulitzer Prize winner (2007), and Poet Laureate (2012–2014). Through the lens of African American and Critical Race studies, Trethewey’s “Native Guard” is analyzed as the artistic Civil War reconstruction which writes the Louisiana Native Guard regiments into national history. Utilizing the wide range of poetic forms in the collections “Domestic Work” (2000), “Bellocq’s Ophelia” (2002), “Thrall” (2012), – ekphrastic poetry, verse-novellas, epistolary poems, rhymed and free verse sonnets, dramatic monologues, in “Native Guard” (2006) Natasha Trethewey experiments with the classical genres of villanelle (“Scenes from a Documentary History of Mississippi”), ghazal (“Miscegenation”), pantoum (“Incident”), elegy (“Elegy for the Native Guard”), linear palindrome (“Myth”), pastoral (“Pastoral”), sonnet (the ten poems of the crown sonnet sequence “Native Guard”). Following the African American modernist literary canon, Trethewey transforms the traditional forms, infusing blues into sonnets (“Graveyard Blues”), and experimenting with into blank verse sonnets (“What the Body Can Tell”). In the first part of “Native Guard”, the poet pays homage to her African American mother who was married to a white man in the 1960s when interracial marriage was illegal. The book demonstrates the intersections of private memories of Trethewey’s mother, her childhood and personal encounters with the racial oppression in the American South, and the “poeticized” episodes from the Civil War history presented from the perspective of the freed slave and the soldier of the Native Guard, Nathan Daniels. The core poems devoted to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Louisiana regiments in the Union Army formed in 1862, are the crown sonnet sequence which variably combine the formal features of the European classical sonnet and the African American blues poetics. The ten poems are composed as unrhymed journal entries, dated from 1862 to 1865, and they foreground the reflections of the African American warrior on historical episodes of the Civil War focusing on the Native Guard’s involvement in the military duty. In formal aspects, Trethewey achieves the effect of continuity by “binding” together each sonnet and repeating the final line of the poem at the beginning of the following one in the sequence. Though, the “Native Guard” crown sonnet sequence does not fully comply with the rigid structure of the classical European form, Trethewey’s poetic narrative aims at restoring the role of the African American soldiers in the Civil War and commemorating the Native Guard. The final part of the collection synthesizes the two strains – the personal and the historical, accentuating the racial issues in the American South. Through the experience of a biracial Southerner, and via the polemics with the Fugitives, in her poems Natasha Trethewey displays that the Civil Rights Act has not eliminated racial inequality and racism. Trethewey’s extensive experimentation with literary forms and style opens up the prospects for further investigation of the writer’s artistic methods in her poetry collections, autobiographical prose, and nonfiction.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: African American poetry; Natasha Trethewey; the Civil War; «Native Guard»; sonnet; elegy; pastoral
Subjects: Статті у журналах > Фахові (входять до переліку фахових, затверджений МОН)
Статті у журналах > Наукові (входять до інших наукометричних баз, крім перерахованих, мають ISSN, DOI, індекс цитування)
Divisions: Факультет романо-германської філології > Кафедра лінгвістики та перекладу
Depositing User: Ірина Василівна Яковенко
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2022 07:52
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2022 07:52

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