Cave Canem Gets Award From Poets House, Funding From University

by Staff

Poets House, the nonprofit poetry library and literary center in New York City, announced recently that it will honor Cave Canem founders Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady with the Elizabeth Kray Award, given biennially to individuals who serve poetry in the spirit of Kray, who founded Poets House, along with Stanley Kunitz, in 1985. The award will be presented to Derricotte and Eady following the thirteenth annual Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge, a benefit event for Poets House, on June 9.

Derricotte and Eady established Cave Canem, an organization devoted to discovering and supporting "new voices in African American poetry," in 1996. What began as a weeklong summer retreat organized by volunteers has grown to a full-fledged nonprofit offering regional workshops, a first book prize, and readings and events nationwide.

Earlier this month, the University of Pittsburgh announced that it will give Cave Canem two hundred thousand dollars to support its annual summer program. To be distributed over five years, the funding will allow the organization to continue to hold its retreat at the university's campus in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The award follows the university's initial forty thousand dollar gift, given in 1997. The retreat, which originally brought together twenty-seven poets, was created to serve a community whose voices were isolated and under-represented in the field. The organization now awards fifty-four retreat fellowships annually, uniting poets from across the country with a faculty of eminent African American authors.