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What Makes Poetry Work?

UGA graduate and U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey's return to her alma mater got people thinking about what makes a good poem.

Natasha Trethewey, a University of Georgia graduate and the U.S. Poet Laureate for 2012-13, was recently back on campus to deliver the UGA charter lecture.

Her visit got some people thinking about poetry and its value.

"I was not fond of poetry before coming into contact with Trethewey’s work," UGA senior Crystal Reese wrote for The Red and Black.

But the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, who was born biracial before that was legal and often writes on themes of racial identity, "has convinced many young, aspiring writers — myself included — that the world wants to hear of topics that may seem unimportant to our immediate communities," Reese writes.

At UGA, Trethewey read from her work “Thrall" and talked about being the child of a black mother and a white father in the Deep South.

For Augusta Chronicle columnist Bill Kirby, the occasion raised the question of what makes poetry work. Kirby offers samples from seven poets and challenges readers to pick out Trethewey's writing. Take a look for yourself, and see which selection you like best.

--Are you a poetry fan? Who's your favorite? Share with your neighbors in the comments below.

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