The Georgia Writers Association is pleased to announce that Natasha Trethewey is the winner of this year’s GAYA Lifetime Achievement Award. Trethewey was appointed United States Poet Laureate in 2012 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007 for Native Guard. She received the Mississippi Governor’s Award for literary excellence in 2008 and was inducted into the Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame in 2011. She served as poet laureate for Mississippi in 2012. Trethewey, author of five books, was nominated for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for her poetry collection Thrall. Her work has appeared in the country’s most prestigious literary journals and anthologies, including The Best American Poetry in both 2000 and 2003. Trethewey, a resident of Decatur, is a professor of creative writing at Emory University and the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry.
Robert Loveman (1864-1923), who realized fame as one of the greatest lyric poets of his time, is the winner of GAYA’s Posthumous Achievement Award. Loveman, who found his muse in the idyllic postbellum town of Dalton, GA, published seven volumes of poetry and garnered high praise from reviewers across the country. “Rain Song,” his best-known work, first appeared in Harper’s Magazine and was reprinted multiple times at home and abroad. Besides being included in a dozen anthologies, the poem was later set to music. Al Jolson sang a version of it in a Broadway musical and later performed the song in the country’s first talking motion picture. In 1922, Loveman’s poem “Georgia” was adopted as the official state song by the General Assembly. It would remain so until 1979 when it was replaced by Ray Charles’ “Georgia on My Mind.” In 1976, the Georgia Bicentennial Commission designated Loveman’s grave in Dalton as a historic site. The poet also has a marker placed in the Author’s Walk at “Wren’s Nest,” the Atlanta home of Joel Chandler Harris.
Tretheway and Loveman will be recognized at this year’s GAYA Awards Banquet. The ceremony is scheduled for June 7 at 6:00 p.m. at the KSU Center.