Through elegiac verse that honors her mother and tells of her own fraught childhood, Natasha Trethewey confronts the racial legacy of her native Deep South -- where one of the first black regiments, the Louisiana Native Guards, was called into service during the Civil War. Trethewey's resonant and beguiling collection is a haunting conversation between personal experience and national history.
Trethewey's style is reserved, even cautious, though her subjects are emotionally charged, even violent. This creates an interesting dichotomy, especially in poems such as "Pastoral" with its touchy image of Trethewey confronting the great white Southern poets -- Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren and others -- while in blackface. Though this is her third book, Trethewey is still perfecting her voice and may have only scratched the surface of her remarkable talent.