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Emory Poet Puts Katrina In Perspective | News

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Emory Poet Puts Katrina In Perspective

DECATUR, GA -- The impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is the focus of a new book by Natasha Trethewey, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and professor at Emory University.

She takes a deeply personal look at her hometown of Gulfport in "Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast."

"Many Mississippians have felt a little bit forgotten in some ways," she told 11Alive's Jennifer Leslie.  "People are still struggling with recovery."

Trethewey's book provides a revealing look at how Katrina affected her brother, Joe.

"I began to think my brother's story became emblematic of of the stories of lots of people we may not hear about," she said. 

Joe was on the right track before the hurricane hit. Afterward, he lost his job and began running out of money.

"It was at that point that he made a desperate decision that landed him in prison," she said.  Joe spent about a year in prison for a drug charge.

"He drank with his friends," Tretheway wrote in her book.  "They drank and looked at the destruction and rubbed their heads and drank some more."

"He found a hill where his cell phone worked and called to say, 'Everything is gone,'" she wrote.

For the five-year anniversary Trethewey is taking stock.

"We are here five years beyond it and that makes it good," she said. "There is progress. It's an ongoing thing.  But even if we look back in sadness, we can look forward in hope."

Trethewey will give a reading from her new book next weekend as part of the Decatur Book Festival.

She's scheduled to appear at 1:15 p.m. on September 5th at Decatur First Baptist Church.  It's located at 308 Clairemont Avenue.  Admission is free.

For a preview, here's video of Trethewey reading the poem "Liturgy" from the book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4AQgK8_5As.

Here's another link to video of Trethewey reading from and talking about the book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5dUzhOWJAw&feature=channel.