Emory University writing professor and Mississippi's top poet Natasha Trethewey, 46, was named the library's 19th poet laureate.
Trethewey won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Native Guard, her book of poems that focuses partly on history that was erased because it was never recorded.
She wrote about the Louisiana Native Guard, a black Civil War regiment assigned to guard white Confederate soldiers held on Ship Island off Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. Confederate prisoners were memorialized but the black Union soldiers weren't.
The first poet laureate was Robert Penn Warren, an inspiration for Trethewey.