Natasha Trethewey’s Ekphrastic, Interdisciplinary Poetics: A Study in Selected Poems

    Asma Yahya Jaffal ,Ameer Chasib Furaih


    For centuries, African Americans have been marginalized, and their sacrifices often overlooked from public memory. Despite their unquestionable contributions in the making of the American nation, their Black history is often neglected, erased, and stereotyped by the racist white American historians. This tendency towards historical erasure appears mostly, but not exclusively, in the South. With the growth of visual culture at the beginning of twentieth century, Ekphrastic poetics rise as a way of resistance against stereotyping. Ekphrastic Poetry presents the verbal representation of photographs and paintings. Through applying Postcolonial concepts on the poetry of African American poet laureate Natasha Trethewey, the first part of this paper will recapture the memories of African Americans in a specific context of time span as reflected in selected poems by Trethewey. The postcolonial analysis will reveal a different angle in reading and seeing what are considered facts in the selected stereotyped photographs. The reading will attempt to reflect the point of view of the photographed people beside the poet's as well. While the second part of the paper will trace back the origins and the emergence of racial terminology in an international context; it will present the written form of poetry in selected paintings from Casta paintings in Colonial Mexico. The paper will discuss how the poet relates the racial classification in the paintings with the ongoing racism and stereotyping in contemporary America, depending on the poet's personal experiences as a representative to African Americans. The paper explains the interdisciplinary poetics in Natasha Trethewey’s Ekphrastic Poetry; how the personal experience can be a representative to a larger context which is the collective memory of the whole African Americans, how the international practices of racism directly affect the domestic attitudes toward the same point. This Interdisciplinary poetics will be discussed in relation to the the configurations of ekphrasis in our present day.

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