Ann Marie Lonsdale Appointed Cave Canem Foundation’s Fourth Executive Director

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The Board of Directors of Cave Canem Foundation, Inc., North America’s premier home for Black poetry, is pleased to announce that Ann Marie Lonsdale has been named the organization’s fourth Executive Director. Lonsdale replaces Sandra Bowie, who served as Interim Executive Director following the departure of Nicole Sealey in June 2019.

The Board states: “As Cave Canem approaches its 25th year, we are excited to work with Ann Marie to build on the organization’s foundation and advance our mission to cultivate the artistic and professional growth of Black poets. Her experience in arts administration, and commitment to serving individual artists, will be vital as we navigate the present and prepare for our future.”

Lonsdale will expand the organization with a vision towards the organization’s 25th anniversary in 2021 and building partnerships to further cultivate the development of Black poets.

“I am honored to lead Cave Canem through this exciting period of growth and transformation, culminating in the 25th anniversary in 2021,” says Lonsdale. “I am thrilled to have this opportunity to learn and grow with this seminal organization, and to share resources with and increase support for Black poets. It is an honor to serve this community and I look forward to our work together.”

Lonsdale is an arts worker with a background as a producer and administrator working with innovative and experimental live performance. For the past several years she has served as an administrator with a variety of organizations, including as Program Manager for the Creative Capital Professional Development Program, as General Manager at the Center for Performance Research, and as Director of Programs and Deputy Director of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago and holds a master’s degree in Arts Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Founded in 1996 by poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady, Cave Canem is a home for the many voices of African American poetry and is committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of Black poets. Called “the major watering hole and air pocket for Black poetry” by 2011 National Book Award winner and faculty member Nikky Finney, the organization invites Black poets to become fellows by applying to its annual week-long poetry retreat. Since its inception, the organization has instated over 300 fellows and has named over 30 highly regarded poets as faculty. Cave Canem’s public programs include community-based writing workshops, Legacy Conversations with distinguished Black poets and scholars, cross-cultural Poets on Craft talks with writers in mid-career, a popular lecture series, and a New Works reading series. Its three book prizes, delivered in collaboration with five prestigious presses, have launched the careers of several poets, including former U.S. Poet Laureates Natasha Trethewey and Tracy K. Smith. Other preeminent poets as Chris Abani, Elizabeth Alexander, Terrance Hayes, Yusef Komunyakaa, Harryette Mullen and Claudia Rankine number among the organization’s faculty and judges.