- Heart’s Hornbook (2004)
- Songs and Lamentations (2004)
- The Long Road Home (1994)
- Evening Knowledge (Cleveland State University Poetry Series) 1991
- Dreaming of Rivers (Cleveland State University Poetry Series) June, 1984
- In the Traces (1980)
Poet Eric Peter Trethewey was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1943. He had three sisters and one brother: Sherry Caldwell, Joy Trethewey, Cathy Richards, and Stephen Trethewey. At the age of seventeen, he was awarded a full scholarship for track and field by Kentucky State College (now University). He hitchhiked to get to the college from Canada and received his B.A. from Kentucky State University. He then earned his M.A. from the University of New Orleans and his Ph.D. from Tulane University.
He held many jobs before becoming a poet and professor including lead singer of a band, songwriter and guitarist, reporter, longshoreman, and light heavy-weight Louisiana Golden Gloves boxer. He was also a veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy.
While in college at Kentucky State, Trethewey met social worker Gwendolyn Turnbough, who was also a student at Kentucky. At that time (1960’s), because he was white and she was black, it was illegal for them to marry. They went to Cincinnati to marry and returned to the South, eventually moving to Mississippi, where interracial marriage was also illegal, a fact referred to in their daughter Natasha’s poetry. They are the parents of the Pulitzer Prize winning poet and 19th Poet Laureate of the United States Natasha Trethewey, who was born in Gulfport, Mississippi, on April 26, 1966. Eric Trethewey (known as Rick to his friends) and his wife Gwendolyn divorced when Natasha was six. His ex-wife moved to Atlanta, and he moved to New Orleans.
In 1984, he became Professor of English at Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia, where he taught for almost thirty years. He enjoyed a distinguished career as a professor in the graduate creative writing program there. He wrote six collections of poetry including In the Traces, Dreaming of Rivers, Evening Knowledge (winner of the 1990 Virginia Prize in Poetry), The Long Road Home, Songs and Lamentations, and Heart’s Hornbook. His poems, stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, including The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The Hudson Review, Poetry, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, The New Republic, The Southern Review and Canadian Literature. The Home Waltz, a screenplay, won the Virginia Governor’s Screenplay Competition in 1988.
In 1985, when his daughter Natasha was a freshman at the University of Georgia, his ex-wife Gwendolyn (and Natasha’s mother) was shot and killed by her second ex-husband, Joel Grimmette. This tragedy affected the poetry of both daughter and ex-husband, Eric Trethewey, who had remained friends with his ex-wife Turnbough and wrote moving poems about her. Natasha turned to writing poetry to assuage her grief. As Natasha’s career grew, Natasha, now an English professor at Emory University, and her father gave readings together. Their poetry as a whole is often historical and autobiographical.
Trethewey was a participator in the annual Writers’ Harvest Reading in which Hollins College faculty writers read from their work to raise money for the hungry. He also taught poetry to inmates at the Roanoke City jail.
When he died in 2014, Trethewey lived in Catawba, Virginia. He had a son, Silas, with Kelley Shinn, a resident of Ocracoke, North Carolina. Trethewey had been in declining health and may have been injured in a fall. He was seventy-one.
- Hollins professor Eric Trethewey as “fine, strong poet” by Mike Allen
- The Only World There Is by Eric Trethewey in Hollins Magazine
- Remembering Eric Trethewey has poem by him called The Crossing
- Canadian Literature Quarterly has four poems by Trethewey and an interview with him
- Autumn Sunday by Trethewey on Connotation Press online
- Panhandler Issue 2 (University of West Florida) has story by Trethewey