Renowned Author Toi Derricotte Named to the Academy Of American Poets Board of Chancellors

Issue Date: 
January 23, 2012

Toi Derricotte, an English professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has been elected to the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors, the academy’s advisory board of distinguished poets. Derricotte was elected along with poets Jane Hirshfield and Arthur Sze.

A renowned poet, Derricotte has had more than a thousand poems published in anthologies, journals, and magazines. She is the cofounder of the Cave Canem Foundation, which has been offering workshops and retreats for African American poets since 1996.

In discussing Derricotte and her poetry, Pitt alumnus and Academy Chancellor Gerald Stern (A&S ’47), who served as the inaugural poet laureate of New Jersey from 2000 to 2002, said: “She is a deeply courageous, open and wise poet, a master of the lyric, but only as it combines with the narrative and moves—through pain—into the visionary. Her true subject is redemption, but the journey towards that is always earned, as she spares nothing, including herself. To read through her poetry is to discover not just a void, but a person—and a world.”

Established in 1946, the Academy of American Poets’ Board of Chancellors elects the recipients of the Wallace Stevens Award and the Academy of American Poets Fellowship. They also act as consultants to the organization on matters of artistic direction and programming and serve as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large. Previous Chancellors of the Academy have included Marianne Moore, W. H. Auden, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman, Robert Penn Warren, among others.

Derricotte is the author of five books of poetry—The Undertaker’s Daughter (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), Tender (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997), Captivity (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989), Natural Birth (Crossing Press, 1983), The Empress of the Death House (Lotus Press, 1978)—and the memoir The Black Notebooks: An Interior Journey (W.W. Norton & Co., 1997). In 1997, The Black Notebooks was included in The New York Times Book Review’s “Notable Books of the Year” listing and won the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction.