2017 Retreat Faculty
Cave Canem co-founder Cornelius Eady was born in 1954 in Rochester, New York. He is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Hardheaded Weather (Penguin, 2008). His Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (Ommation Press, 1986), won the 1985 Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets. He has collaborated with jazz composer Diedre Murray in the production of several works of musical theater, including You Don’t Miss Your Water; Running Man, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1999; Fangs, and Brutal Imagination, which received Newsday’s Oppenheimer Award in 2002. He is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literature; a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry; a Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Traveling Scholarship; a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to Bellagio, Italy; The Prairie Schooner Strousse Award (1994); and the Elizabeth Kray Award for service to the field of poetry from Poets House. He is Professor of English and the Miller Family Endowed Chair in Literature and Writing at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Major Jackson is the author of four collections of poetry: Roll Deep (2015, Norton); Holding Company (2010, Norton); Hoops (2006, Norton); and Leaving Saturn (2002, University of Georgia Press). Holding Company and Hoops were both selected as finalists for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry; and Leaving Saturn, awarded the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for a first book of poems, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. He has published poems and essays in American Poetry Review, Callaloo, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Poetry, Tin House, and in Best American Poetry. A recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Pushcart Prize, and a Whiting Writers’ Award, he has been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. He lives in South Burlington, Vermont, where he is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor at the University of Vermont. He serves as the Poetry Editor of The Harvard Review.
Ruth Ellen Kocher is the author of Third Voice (Tupelo Press, 2016); Ending in Planes (Noemi Press, 2014); Goodbye Lyric: The Gigans and Lovely Gun (Sheep Meadow Press, 2014); domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press, 2013), winner of the Dorset Prize and the 2014 PEN/Open Book Award; One Girl Babylon (New Issues Press, 2003) winner of the Green Rose Prize; When the Moon Knows You’re Wandering (New Issues Press, 2002); and Desdemona’s Fire (Lotus Press 1999), winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Prize. Her poems appear in Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poets; Black Nature; From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great; An Anthology for Creative Writers: The Garden of Forking Paths; IOU: New Writing On Money; and New Bones: Contemporary Black Writing in America. She has been awarded fellowships from Cave Canem Foundation and Yaddo. She is a Contributing Editor at Poets & Writers Magazine and Professor of English at the University of Colorado where she teaches Poetry, Poetics and Literature.
Robin Coste Lewis is the author of Voyage of the Sable Venus (2015), the winner of National Book Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including The Massachusetts Review, Callaloo, The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, Transition and VIDA. Lewis earned her MFA from NYU’s Creative Writing Program where she was a Goldwater fellow in poetry. She also earned a MTS degree in Sanskrit and comparative religious literature from Harvard Divinity School. She is a Cave Canem fellow and was awarded a Provost’s fellowship in the Creative Writing & Literature PhD Program at USC. Other fellowships and awards include the Caldera Foundation, the Ragdale Foundation, the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Can Serrat International Art Centre in Barcelona, and the Summer Literary Seminars in Kenya. She was a finalist for the International War Poetry Prize, the National Rita Dove Prize, and semi-finalist for the “Discovery”/Boston Review Prize and the Crab Orchard Series Open Poetry Prize. Lewis has taught at Wheaton College, Hunter College, Hampshire College and the NYU Low-Residency MFA in Paris. Born in Compton, California, her family is from New Orleans.
As poet, publisher of Third World Press, editor and educator, Haki R. Madhubuti has been a pivotal figure in the development of a strong Black literary tradition, emerging from the Civil Rights era of the ’60s and continuing to the present. Over the years, he has published more than 27 books (some under his former name, Don L. Lee) and is one of the world’s best-selling authors of poetry and nonfiction, with books in print in excess of 3 million. Selected titles include Claiming Earth: Race, Rage, Rape, Redemption (1994), GroundWork: New and Selected Poems 1966-1996 (1996), HeartLove: Wedding and Love Poems (1998), Tough Notes: A Healing Call For Creating Exceptional Black Men (2002), and Run Toward Fear (2004), and the memoir YellowBlack (2005). A recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, the American Book Award and others, Madhubuti is a founder and chairman of the board of the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent and founder of the National Black Writers Retreat. His distinguished teaching career includes faculty positions at Columbia College of Chicago, Cornell University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Howard University, Morgan State University, and the University of Iowa. Currently, Madhubuti is the Distinguished University Professor and professor of English, founder and director-emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing, and director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at Chicago State University.
Co-Founders: Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady
Toi Derricotte has published five collections of poetry, most recently, The Undertaker’s Daughter (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011). An earlier collection of poems, Tender, won the 1998 Paterson Poetry Prize. Her literary memoir, The Black Notebooks, published by W.W. Norton, won the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her essay “Beds” is included in The Best American Essays 2011, edited by Edwidge Danticat. Recognized as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 2009, her honors include the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize for Sustained Literary Achievement; the 2012 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry for a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work represents a notable presence in American literature; the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America; two Pushcart Prizes; the Distinguished Pioneering of the Arts Award from the United Black Artists; the Alumni/Alumnae Award from New York University; the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers, Inc.; the Elizabeth Kray Award for service to the field of poetry from Poets House; and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Maryland State Arts Council. She serves on the Academy of American Poets’ Board of Chancellors and for many years was Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
Lucille Clifton, Elder (6/27/1936 – 2/13/2010)
Thomas Sayers Ellis
C. S. Giscombe
Michael S. Harper, Elder (3/18/1938 – 5/7/2016)
Colleen J. McElroy
Marilyn Nelson, Elder
Sonia Sanchez, Elder
Amber Flora Thomas
Afaa M. Weaver, Elder
Al Young, Elder