A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet quoted T.I. in her Emory keynote address

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Tretheway receives an honorary degree before her keynote address at Emory University's 2017 commencement.
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Tretheway receives an honorary degree before her keynote address at Emory University's 2017 commencement.

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

Natasha Trethewey, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former United States poet laureate, quoted Atlanta rapper and actor T.I. in her keynote address at Emory University's commencement ceremony Monday.

Her powerful speech touched on values including empathy, serving the greater good and the ongoing pursuit of knowledge.

Towards the end of the nearly 20-minute speech, she posed a question.

“Why would these values still be worth aspiring to, if the highest levels of professional success can be achieved without them?”

Then she answered herself.

“On the most basic level, you might just save yourself from being — in the words of Atlanta rapper T.I., from his song with Rihanna — ‘unhappy with the riches cause you're piss poor morally.’”

Trethewey smiled, and the large crowd applauded, whistled and laughed.

The event took place on the Emory quadrangle for about 4,700 graduating students and their families.

Check out Trethewey’s tip to Tip at the 14-minute mark: