The keynote speaker at the 2012 AJC/Decatur Book Festival, Trethewey was a regular headliner at the event, always drawing standing room only crowds at her readings. She was nurtured early on in her career by her poet-father, the late Eric Trethewey and former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove. And along with Spelman Professor Sharan Strange and departing Emory Professor Kevin Young, Trethewey was a member of the influential late 1980s-early 1990s poetry ensemble called “The Dark Room Collective,” in Cambridge, Mass. Young, who was an early finalist for the 2016 National Book Award, is leaving Emory next year to helm the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York.
In a 2012 interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Trethewey said of her poetry, "I have some historical questions and I'm grappling with ways to make sense of history; why it still haunts us in our most intimate relationships with each other, but also in our political decisions."