Let’s Talk About It – Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey (September 1, 2022)

The second Let’s Talk About It program will be held on Thursday, September 1, 2022, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Library’s meeting room. Several copies of the book are available for checkout. Below is some information about the book and the speaker for September.

About the Book
Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for poetry and former U.S. Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey’s elegiac Native Guard is a deeply personal volume that brings together two legacies of the Deep South.
The title of the collection refers to the Mississippi Native Guards, a black regiment whose role in the Civil War has been largely overlooked by history. As a child in Gulfport, Mississippi, in the 1960s, Trethewey could gaze across the water to the fort on Ship Island where Confederate captives once were guarded by black soldiers serving the Union cause. The racial legacy of the South touched Trethewey’s life on a much more immediate level, too. Many of the poems in Native Guard pay loving tribute to her mother, whose marriage to a white man was illegal in her native Mississippi in the 1960s. Years after her mother’s tragic death, Trethewey reclaims her memory, just as she reclaims the voices of the black soldiers whose service has been all but forgotten. (Summary from amazon.com).

Some questions to think about while reading:

  • Do the themes of historical erasure and amnesia recall Edward Jones’ The Known World? The series theme of civil rights and equality? 
  • Did you like this book? Think of your experience of reading it and reflecting about it. 
  • In any book some subjects or situations must be left out, intentionally or otherwise. Which ones did you find yourself wanting to know about in Native Guard?

About the Speaker
Dr. Harbour Winn was involved with the “Let’s Talk About It” program as the state humanities scholar on the original committee that wrote the grant for the funding to begin the program in Oklahoma. He has been a scholar in more than 330 of these programs across the state of Oklahoma. For seventeen years, Dr. Harbour Winn taught as a Montessori teacher at Westminster School and at Oklahoma City University in the Master of Liberal Arts Program and the Montessori Early Childhood Program. In 2013 he received the Oklahoma Humanities Council’s State Public Humanities Award; was chosen a DaVinci Fellow, DaVinci Institute, in 2012; and received the 2011 Award for Distinguished Service from the Oklahoma Film & Video Studies Society State Film Consortium.