By Natasha Trethewey
Past Katrina is poet Natasha Trethewey’s very own profile of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and of the folk there whose lives have been perpetually replaced by way of storm Katrina. Trethewey spent her formative years in Gulfport, the place a lot of her mother’s nuclear family, together with her more youthful brother, nonetheless lives. As she labored to appreciate the devastation that the storm, Trethewey chanced on notion in Robert Penn Warren’s booklet Segregation: the internal clash within the South, within which he spoke with southerners approximately race within the wake of the Brown selection, shooting an occasion of large impression from a number of issues of view. Weaving her personal stories with the reports of relatives, associates, and acquaintances, Trethewey lines the erosion of neighborhood tradition and the emerging financial dependence on tourism and casinos. She chronicles many years of wetland improvement that exacerbated the destruction and portrays a Gulf Coast whose citizens—particularly African Americans—were at the margins of yank lifestyles good prior to the hurricane hit. such a lot poignantly, Trethewey illustrates the destruction of the storm in the course of the tale of her brother’s efforts to get well what he misplaced and his next incarceration. well known for writing concerning the thought of domestic, Trethewey’s try and comprehend and record the wear to Gulfport all started as a chain of lectures on the college of Virginia that have been thus released as essays within the Virginia Quarterly overview. For past Katrina, Trethewey has multiplied this paintings right into a narrative that comes with own letters, poems, and images, delivering a relocating meditation at the love she holds for her youth domestic.
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Extra resources for Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (Sarah Mills Hodge Fund Publication)
I represent the Pass,” she’d said to me, my mind registering, for a moment, the past. Even now whole communities of fema trailers line the beach road, the highway, the neighborhoods farther inland— nearly ten thousand of them, many laden with formaldehyde. From p i l gri m 23 a distance they appear as the above-ground tombs of New Orleans’ famed cemeteries: white, orderly rows bearing the weight of remembrance. There are concrete steps wedged into the earth leading to nothing. There are concrete slabs so overtaken by grass, roots, and weeds it is as if no one ever lived there— so quickly has nature begun its rebuilding, its wild and green retaking of the land.
Even the memory of the work he did for months after— to help with cleanup— haunts the places he encounters daily: how not to look at the sand without that strange anticipation of what might be found there? Joe comes to visit me in Atlanta as often as possible. I know he wants to spend time with our grandmother, but I know too that he is frustrated with his life on the coast, so he comes to escape, temporarily, that depressed landscape, its reminders of loss at every turn. Flannery O’Connor’s words ring true: 24 pil g r i m Where you came from is gone.
At night he and the other men visited the local bars— especially those in the French Quarter. He was young, and this was an exciting life with good pay. He was a hard worker— efficient and likeable— and before long the contractors were seeking him out, often to lead a crew. When construction began on the Beau Rivage, Joe was back on the coast, living in one of the houses he’d inherited years before. And he was steadily gaining experience working 46 b ef o r e k a t r i n a at construction sites, doing remodeling— carpet, wallpaper, paint, interior walls, and ceilings— gaining the kind of skills that, along with fixing minor roof problems, switching out appliances, and repairing sinks and toilets, he’d need to have in order to do a good deal of the maintenance on his own rental properties.