Natasha Trethewey - MEMORIAL DRIVE: A Daughter's Memoir

Join us for a very special early evening online with Natasha Trethewey, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and former Poet Laureate of the United States, featuring her new book, MEMORIAL DRIVE - a chillingly personal and exquisitely wrought memoir of a daughter reckoning with the brutal murder of her mother at the hands of her former stepfather, and the moving, intimate story of a poet coming into her own in the wake of a tragedy. She will appear in conversation with UNO English Professor Randy Bates.

This presentation is being offered exclusively by New Orleans independent bookstore Octavia Books on August 3 at 5:00 pm Central Daylight Time and will be hosted by us live via Zoom.

Click here to order a copy of MEMORIAL DRIVE from Octavia Books and we will email you the Zoom event information that will allow you participate in the program. The first 100 copies of MEMORIAL DRIVE will be signed by Natasha Trethewey.


At age nineteen, Natasha Trethewey had her world turned upside down when her former stepfather shot and killed her mother. Grieving and still new to adulthood, she confronted the twin pulls of life and death in the aftermath of unimaginable trauma and now explores the way this experience lastingly shaped the artist she became.

With penetrating insight and a searing voice that moves from the wrenching to the elegiac, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Natasha Trethewey investigates this profound experience of pain, loss, and grief as an entry point into understanding the tragic course of her mother’s life and the way her own life has been shaped by a legacy of fierce love and resilience. Moving through her mother’s history in the deeply segregated South and through her own girlhood as a “child of miscegenation” in Mississippi, Trethewey plumbs her sense of dislocation and displacement in the lead-up to the harrowing crime that took place on Memorial Drive in Atlanta in 1985.

Memorial Drive is a compelling and searching look at a shared human experience of sudden loss and absence but also a piercing glimpse at the enduring ripple effects of white racism and domestic abuse. Animated by unforgettable prose and inflected by a poet’s attention to language, this is a luminous, urgent, and visceral memoir from one of our most important contemporary writers and thinkers.

Natasha Trethewey is a former US poet laureate and the author of five collections of poetry as well as a book of creative non-fiction. She has held appointments at Duke University, Emory University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Yale University. She is currently the Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University.  In 2007, she won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her collection Native Guard.

Randy Bates’s credits include RINGS: On the Life and Family of a Southern Fighter (prose), Dolphin Island (poems), an NEA grant, and many periodical publications.  From 1999-2019, he taught nonfiction in the MFA program at the University of New Orleans.


Event date: 

Monday, August 3, 2020 - 5:00pm

Event address: 

Online via Zoom. Please order the book below and we will email the credentials to attend the presentation.
Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062248572
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - July 28th, 2020

"In Memorial Drive, Natasha Trethewey has transformed unimaginable tragedy into a work of sublimity. There’s sorrow and heartbreak, yes, but also a beautiful portrait of a mother and her daughter’s enduring love. Trethewey writes elegantly, trenchantly, intimately as well about the fraught history of the south and what it means live at the intersection of America’s struggle between blackness and whiteness. And what, in our troubled republic, is a subject more evergreen?" -Mitchell S.  Jackson, author of Survival Math
“Haunting, powerful, and painfully stunning, Memorial Drive is one of the best memoirs I've read in a long time. A brilliant storyteller, Trethewey writes the unimaginable truth with a clear-eyed courage that proves, once again, that she's one of the nation's best writers.” -Ada Limón, author of Bright Dead Things and NBCC award-winner The Carrying
“Natasha Trethewey has composed a riveting memoir that reads like a detective story about her mother’s murder by a malevolent ex-husband. It reads with all the poise and clarity of Trethewey’s unforgettable poetry—heartrending without a trace of pathos, wise and smart at once, unforgettable. The short section her mother penned as she was trying to escape the marriage moved me to tears. I read the book in one gulp and expect to reread it more than once. A must-read classic.” -Mary Karr, author of The Liars' Club; Cherry; and Lit

Event Type Terms: