Skip to Main Content

Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "Memorial Drive" by Natasha Trethewey

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"Memorial Drive" by Natasha Trethewey

  1. How does Natasha Trethewey use the motif of "memory" throughout the memoir? How does memory shape identity, particularly in the context of trauma and loss?

  2. In what ways does Trethewey explore the concept of "place" in her memoir, particularly the significance of Memorial Drive and her childhood home? How do physical spaces influence our memories and experiences?

  3. Trethewey discusses her complex relationship with her mother throughout the memoir. How does she portray her mother's strengths and vulnerabilities? How does the exploration of this relationship contribute to the overall narrative?

  4. Discuss the role of race and racial identity in "Memorial Drive." How does Trethewey navigate her biracial identity within the context of her upbringing in the American South?

  5. Trethewey incorporates historical and cultural references throughout the memoir. How do these references contribute to the reader's understanding of the broader social and political context in which her story unfolds?

  6. The memoir is structured around the traumatic event of her mother's murder. How does Trethewey employ narrative structure and storytelling techniques to convey the emotional weight of this event while also exploring themes of resilience and survival?

  7. Trethewey grapples with the legacy of trauma and its impact on her life and relationships. How does she depict the process of healing and reconciliation in the aftermath of trauma?

  8. Discuss the significance of language and storytelling in "Memorial Drive." How does Trethewey use language to convey emotion, evoke sensory experiences, and reflect on the complexities of memory and identity?

  9. Trethewey reflects on her experiences through the lens of poetry and creative writing. How does her background as a poet influence the style and tone of the memoir?

  10. In what ways does "Memorial Drive" contribute to larger conversations about grief, resilience, and the enduring legacy of trauma? How does Trethewey's personal story resonate with broader themes of loss and survival?

Early Life: Natasha Trethewey was born on April 26, 1966, in Gulfport, Mississippi, USA. She was the daughter of Eric Trethewey, a poet and professor of English, and Gwendolyn Ann Turnbough, a social worker. Her parents' interracial marriage was illegal at the time of her birth due to Mississippi's anti-miscegenation laws.

Education: Trethewey earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Georgia. She later pursued graduate studies at Hollins University, where she earned a Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing. She continued her education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she received a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry.

Literary Career: Trethewey's literary career took off with the publication of her first poetry collection, "Domestic Work," in 2000, which was selected as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Her second collection, "Bellocq's Ophelia," published in 2002, was inspired by the photographs of E.J. Bellocq and received critical acclaim.

In 2007, Trethewey's third poetry collection, "Native Guard," won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The collection explores the history of the Louisiana Native Guards, a black Civil War regiment, as well as Trethewey's personal history growing up in the South.

Trethewey served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States, from 2012 to 2014. During her tenure, she focused on promoting poetry and expanding its reach to diverse audiences. She also used her platform to highlight the importance of history and memory in understanding contemporary issues.

In addition to her poetry, Trethewey has written a memoir titled "Memorial Drive," published in 2020. The memoir delves into her childhood in Mississippi and the trauma of her mother's murder by her stepfather when Trethewey was 19 years old.

Legacy: Throughout her career, Natasha Trethewey has been recognized for her lyrical and evocative poetry, as well as her insightful exploration of themes related to race, history, and personal identity. Her work continues to resonate with readers and critics alike, earning her numerous awards and honors.

Natasha Trethewey's contributions to American literature have cemented her place as one of the most important voices of her generation, and her work continues to inspire and provoke thought in readers around the world.


Westwood Public Library

Main Library

660 High Street
Westwood, MA 02090
Email Main Library

Islington Branch

273 Washington Street
Westwood, MA 02090
Email Branch Library