Posts

Showing posts from October, 2006
Image
THE NEW YORK DANCE OF THE BLACK POETS
CAVE CANEM’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION

It was joyous. It was spectacular. It was a moment to be cherished, this 10th anniversary celebration of Cave Canem, the first retreat for black or African-American poets in America’s literary history, founded by the poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady in 1996, ten years ago. I had the privilege of being one of the first two poets invited to teach at Cave Canem, along with Elizabeth Alexander. After my year as a faculty member, I was named the organization’s first Elder, in keeping with some West African traditions. Cave Canem is admired, appreciated and supported by a racially and ethnically diverse group.


Some might ask why there has to be a retreat for black poets. The answers are as old and continuous as America, going back to Thomas Jefferson’s dismissal of the work of Phyllis Wheatley as being “below the dignity of criticism” and in views still held by som…