This week, the Library of Congress announced that Natasha Trethewey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Native Guard, will be the next poet laureate of the United States. Trethewey, a native of Mississippi, is the first Southern poet laureate since 1986.
Portions of this interview were originally broadcast on July 16, 2007, Jan. 20, 2009 and Aug. 18, 2010.
The writer, known for her ongoing series of autobiographies, is one of this country's leading black female poets. She talks with Fresh Air guest host Marty Moss-Coane about how she switches between prose and poetry, and the formal, respectful modes of communication she prefers in the classroom and other professional contexts -- which Angelou says is an integral part of the African American community.
Poet and essayist June Jordan. In her poems and political essays, she addresses issues of racism, oppression and dispossession. She was born in Harlem and grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. She currently teaches English at the University of California at Berkeley.
Lorde is open about her identity as a black lesbian feminist; she hopes her visibility will help other women like her feel less alone. She joins Fresh Air to talk about her romantic relationships with men and women, and the tensions between African American and feminist communities. Her new collection of essays, A Burst of Light, deals with her experience with breast cancer.
Poet Maya Angelou has written a new memoir which details her relationship with her son while she worked as a singer and civil rights activist. She discusses the impact of prominent African American leaders like Billie Holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcom X had on her personally and intellectually.