Announcing the Winner of the 2019 Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize

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Cave Canem congratulates Marissa Davis, whose manuscript, My Name & Other Languages I Am Learning How to Speak, has been selected by prize judge Danez Smith as winner of the 2019 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith notes that “Marissa Davis is an unpredictable poet. Every time I return to her pages I was filled with a whole bunch of ‘hold up’ and ‘oh s**t!’ A voice so varied and skilled one has to step back to see that the work is not that of a great, anthologized generation but of one stellar talent singing all the choir parts perfectly, wildly. The embodied poetics found in My Name & Other Languages I Am Learning How to Speak exist brightly in the canon of Black femme poets and points to unfathomably bright future for the canon. Davis is ‘prepared to swallow flame’ and anyone picking up this chapbook should be prepared to do the same.” Davis will receive $500, publication by Jai-Alai Books in spring 2020, ten complimentary copies of the book and a week-long residency at The Writers Room at The Betsy – South Beach. The following poets have been named honorable mention: rebecca brown for The Animal of Memory; Ajanae Dawkins for Heirs; Christell Victoria Roach for Rhapsody; Eric Shorter for Now Like Knew; and Jorrell Watkins for Nobody Knows My Soul.

Launched in 2015, the annual Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize is dedicated to the discovery of exceptional chapbook-length manuscripts by Black poets, and is presented in collaboration with the O, Miami Poetry Festival and The Betsy – South Beach.

Marissa Davis is a poet and translator from Paducah, Kentucky, currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. Her original poems have appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, Rattle, The Iowa Review, Sundog Lit, Raconteur, and Peach Mag, among other journals; her translations are forthcoming in Ezra and Mid-American Review. She received a BA from Vanderbilt University and is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at New York University as a Rona Jaffe fellow, where she also serves as an assistant translations editor for Washington Square ReviewMy Name & Other Languages I Am Learning How to Speak is her first chapbook.