Natasha Trethewey, Robert W. Woodruff professor of english and creative writing at Emory University and former U.S. poet laureate, was awarded the Academy of American Poets (AAP) Fellowship Sept. 7 for her significant contributions to poetry.

Established by the Academy in 1946 to commemorate Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Ingram Merrill, the fellowship recognizes “distinguished poetic achievement” and grants recipients a $25,000 stipend, according to a Sept. 9 University press release.

“Natasha Trethewey’s poems plumb personal and national history to meditate on the conundrum of American racial identities,” AAP Chancellor Marilyn Nelson said in the press release. “The wide scope of [Trethewey’s] interests and her adept handling of form have created an opus of classics both elegant and necessary.”

AAP’s Board of Chancellors, a group of elected poets, appointed Trethewey as the 2016 fellow, according to AAP Programs Coordinator Patricia Guzman. Trethewey, currently the director of Emory’s Creative Writing Program, has authored four collections of poetry as well as a work of nonfiction. With this appointment, she joins a list of prominent past fellows, including Ezra Pound, Gwendolyn Brooks and Robert Frost.

“It is an honor to be among this distinguished list of poets — many of whom I’ve long admired,” Trethewey wrote in an email to the Wheel.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet plans to use the stipend to fund travel to conduct research for her current projects: a new collection of poems and a memoir.

Professor of Practice of English and Creative Writing Jim Grimsley said he is “both amazed and not at all surprised” by Trethewey’s appointment.

“I’ve grown so accustomed to watching Natasha accomplish extraordinary things that I have to pinch myself and remind myself of just how extraordinary [the fellowship] is,” Grimsley said.  

In 2012, Trethewey was appointed 19th U.S. poet laureate by the Library of Congress. Her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013, which boasts a 250-person membership of artists, composers and writers, including Toni Morrison, Joan Didion and E. L. Doctorow.

Trethewey’s first anthology of poems, Domestic Work, was awarded the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. In 2007, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Native Guard, a work that confronts  the erasure of one of the Civil War’s first black regiments, the Louisiana Native Guards. Trethewey has also authored one book of creative nonfiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Correction (Sept. 14 at 2:09 p.m.): This article incorrectly named the English and Creative Writing Program a department, and mistakenly said that Tretheway was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The story has been corrected.