Cornelius Eady and Toi Derricote (Photo credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths)
The National Book Foundation has just announced Cave Canem as the 2016 recipient of its Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, the first time the award has been given to an organization rather than an individual.
Cave Canem is a place for African-American poets to write, share, and celebrate their work. Poets Cornelius Eady, Miller Family Endowed Chair in Literature and Writing at the University of Missouri, and Toi Derricotte, Professor of Writing at the University of Pittsburgh, began Cave Canem in 1996 in order to encourage the artistic work of mid-level African American poets within a field that has traditionally underrepresented such voices. Annually, Cave Canem hosts a fellows' retreat at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Pennsylvania featuring workshops from renowned poets. The organization also sponsors book prizes in association with well-known presses, special presentations by acclaimed poets and scholars, and a poets tour.
Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, states, "Cave Canem's innovative and effective literary activism has been transformative to the world of letters. Their ongoing commitment to provide supportive channels for African American poets to thrive has yielded works that enrich the world's literary culture. The National Book Foundation is proud to recognize Cave Canem as a champion of diverse voices and a leader in this movement."
Past recipience of the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community include Dr. Maya Angelou, Joan Ganze Cooney, Dave Eggers, and many more.
Cornelius Eady is the author of eight books of poetry, including Harheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems (Putnam, April 2008). His second book, Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, won the Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets in 1985; in 2001 Brutal Imagination was a finalist for the National Book Award. His work in theater includes the libretto for an opera, "Running Man," which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1999. His play, "Brutal Imagination," won Newsday's Oppenheimer award in 2002. Eady will be teaching an Advanced Poetry workshop at the University of Missouri this spring, 2017.