Cave Canem’s 10th Anniversary Celebrated Here

Issue Date: 
October 2, 2006


Pitt English Professor Toi Derricotte (above, right) and fellow poets Terrance Hayes (left) and Nikky Finney (center) discussed African American aesthetics and Cave Canem, the celebrated poetry workshop that Derricotte cofounded, during a Sept. 22 celebration at Pitt of the workshop’s 10th anniversary.

Cave Canem poets don't answer the question, “Are you a Black poet or are you a poet?” said Derricotte, who observed that racism fragments the ego, while writing heals. Cave Canem poets “have the hunger to get better and to know poetry from all angles,” she said. “It has to do with widening the Black aesthetic in all ways.”

The 10th anniversary celebration also featured an evening  poetry performance by The Black Took Collective, which was formed during a Cave Canem workshop in 1999. Black Took members emphasized the importance of not allowing dominant aesthetics to quarantine their work. “The ‘Black aesthetic’ is not a monolith. By virtue of race, we do not know ‘X,Y, Z.’ There is no easy system of equivalents,” said Duriel E. Harris, pictured, left, with fellow Black Took member Dawn Lundy Martin.