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Cave Canem and City of Asylum Presents: Robin Coste Lewis and Frank X Walker

August 10, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

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Every June since 2010, City of Asylum has presented featured readings of Cave Canem poets to cap off the annual Cave Canem Retreat. These are rousing performances that speak to issues of the day with emotion, with beauty, and with calls to action. Even though the 2020 Cave Canem retreat was postponed, we’re honored to continue the tradition—this year, virtually. Robin Coste Lewis and Frank X Walker, faculty from the 2020 Cave Canem Retreat, will read new and selected works live from their homes, followed by a moderated discussion by Cave Canem fellow Quenton Baker. The event will be streamed on The Show Must Go On(line) Pittsburgh channel.

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Robin Coste Lewis is the poet laureate of Los Angeles. In 2015, her debut poetry collection, Voyage of the Sable Venus (Knopf), won the National Book Award in poetry. Lewis’s writing has appeared in various journals and anthologies, such as Time MagazineThe New YorkerThe New York TimesThe Paris ReviewTransition, and Best American Poetry. In 2018, MoMA commissioned both Lewis and Kevin Young to write a series of poems to accompany Robert Rauschenberg’s drawings in Thirty-Four Illustrations of Dante’s Inferno (MoMA, 2018). Lewis is currently at work on two new collections, To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness and Prosthetic, both of which are forthcoming from Knopf. Lewis received a BA from Hampshire College in creative writing and comparative literature; an MTS degree in Sanskrit and comparative religious literature from the Divinity School at Harvard University; an MFA in poetry at New York University; and a PhD from the University of Southern Creative Writing and Literature Program. Other fellowships and awards include those from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Los Angeles Institute of the Humanities. Lewis was a finalist for the International War Poetry Prize and the National Rita Dove Prize. Lewis also received a Woman-of-the-Year award from Los Angeles County, and in 2018, she was named an “Art-of-Change” fellow by the Ford Foundation.


A native of Danville, Kentucky, Frank X Walker is the first African American writer to be named Kentucky Poet Laureate. Walker has published ten collections of poetry, including Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers, which was awarded an NAACP Image Award for Poetry and the Black Caucus American Library Association Honor Award for Poetry. His honors also include a Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry, the Denny C. Plattner Award for Outstanding Poetry in Appalachian Heritage, and the West Virginia Humanities Council’s Appalachian Heritage Award. He is also the author of Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York, winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award, and Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride, which he adapted for stage. His poetry was also dramatized for the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Walker coined the term “Affrilachia” and co-founded the Affrilachian Poets, whose story is documented in the film Coal Black Voices. The founding editor of pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture, Walker serves as Professor of English and African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.


Quenton Baker is a poet, educator, and Cave Canem fellow. His current focus is black interiority and the afterlife of slavery. His work has appeared in The Offing, Jubilat, Vinyl, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Southern Maine and is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. He is the recipient of the 2016 James W. Ray Venture Project Award and 2018 Arts Innovator Award from Artist Trust, and was a 2019 Robert Rauschenberg Artist in Residence. Baker is the author of This Glittering Republic (Willow Books, 2016).





City of Asylum creates a thriving community for writers, readers, and neighbors. The Pittsburgh nonprofit provides sanctuary to endangered literary writers from around the world, so that they can continue to write and their voices are not silenced. The organization offers a broad range of literary programs in a variety of community settings to encourage cross-cultural exchange. City of Asylum anchors neighborhood economic development by transforming blighted properties into homes for these programs and energizing public spaces through public art with text-based components. Please visit their website to learn how you can contribute to their mission.

The Show Must Go On(line) Pittsburgh, a project of City of Asylum, is the region’s first shared programming channel. It is a collaborative daily webcast that unites and streams programs created by Pittsburgh’s arts organizations. By bringing these creative forces together, The Show Must Go On(line) provides free access to high quality programs to connect artists and audiences and continue to build community around the arts.


August 10, 2020
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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