Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey Discussion Questions
Video interview with Trethewey from 2010
Print interview from the New York Times, May 13, 2007
1. Natasha Trethewey combines poems about her personal history with poems about American history, specifically about black soldiers serving during the Civil War. What does she achieve by combining these two topics?
2. Normally we read poems in isolation; by reading these poems in the context of a collection, how does it affect your reception or reading of the poems?
3. Look at the epigraphs before each section: a traditional spiritual called The Wayfaring Stranger, a line from Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam,” and an excerpt from “O Magnet-South” by Walt Whitman. Discuss each epigraph’s purpose and how they relate to the various sections.
4. Trethewey begins with a prologue of sorts (“Theories of Time and Space”), then has three distinctly divided sections. In what was do these four parts work together, and what is the overall effect of the collection being organized in this way?