President and Co-founder: Toi Derricotte
Executive Director: Alison Meyers
Year founded: 1996
Mission: Cave Canem is a home for the many voices of African American poetry and is committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets.
- Grown from a gathering of twenty-six poets to an influential movement with a renowned faculty and high-achieving national fellowship of over three hundred
- Put on an annual writing retreat at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg
- In 2009, served a direct audience of more than 4,400 with programs that in past years have included:
- Two book prizes with prestigious presses;
- Workshops in New York City;
- Legacy Conversations with such poets and scholars as Lucille Clifton, Rita Dove, Arnold Rampersad, and Derek Walcott;
- A Poets on Craft series;
- Nationally based readings and panels; and
- The publication of two anthologies, Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade (University of Michigan Press, 2006) and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (University of Georgia Press, 2007)
Profile: Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady founded Cave Canem with the intuition that African American poets would benefit from having a place of their own in the literary landscape. While vacationing in Pompeii, they found a fitting symbol for the safe space they planned to create-the mosaic of a dog guarding the entry to the House of the Tragic Poet, with the inscription, "Cave Canem" (Beware of the Dog).
Over the past fourteen years, that intuition has become a conviction. In Cave Canem, emerging poets find sustenance, a safe space to take artistic chances.
To get more involved or make a donation, please visit the Support Cane Cavem page.
–Huntington W. Sharp, SeniorEditor, Red Room
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