Natasha Trethewey was born on April 26,1966 to her white father, Eric Trethewey, and black mother, Gwendolyn Ann Turnbough, who met at Kentucky State University. Here parent divorced when she was only six-years-old forcing Natasha to split time in Atlanta and the Gulf Coast with her mother, and New Orleans with her father. It was then that she soon understood the different ways she was treated based on her race. With her father she could pass for white, but with her mother, she always felt a bit more distant.
Trethewey soon went to College at the University of Georgia where she majored in English and was a cheerleader. While at school she got news that her mother’s second divorced husband had killed her mother Gwendolyn. She later went on to finish her degree at Georgia in 1989 and received her masters degree in English at Hollins College in Virginia, the same place her father was a professor at. It wasn’t until 1997 that Natasha took her first assistant professor position at the University of Auburn.
Understanding Natasha’s past gives great insight to her developed poetic skills and understanding of her poem’s inspirations in Native Guard and other pieces.