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Cave Canem Prize Reading: Courtney Faye Taylor & Aracelis Girmay

November 30, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

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Cave Canem Prize Reading: Courtney Faye Taylor & Aracelis Girmay 

7:00PM – 8:30PM

American Negro Theater

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture



Concentrate (Graywolf) by Courtney Faye Taylor is a unique contribution to the legacy of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Selected by 2021 Cave Canem Prize Judge Rachel Eliza Griffiths, this collection sits at the intersection of visual art and poetic traditions. Faye’s sensibilities expand the possibility of poetry and voice in this visceral debut.

At the Schomburg’s American Negro Theater, Taylor will be joined by Cave Canem Fellow, and author of black maria (BOA, Aracelis Girmay to discuss and explore Taylor’s groundbreaking collection.


Advanced Praise
“Breathtaking, brilliant, and radical –– Concentrate is the mouth that refuses to swallow America’s blackest desires, which have too long centered their wealth on the lives and deaths of Black girls and women. Taylor’s debut is a deftly woven journey that offers us historical and psychic perspectives that are intimate and expansive, as these poems drag us, by syntax and grace, to our nation’s threshing floor, which must be the page and the body. These poems guide readers through graphic meditations on guilt, innocence, innuendo, and how the constructs of form construct, and often destroy, any easy recognition of justice, or Self. Instead, we are seated, with bent heads, between the knees of an unbroken voice that demands to be heard and heeded. Extraordinary in craft, Taylor’s fearless poems appraise the arc of bullets and bodies devoured by America’s great hard dream. Incandescent in her excavation of language, and the perils of its erasure, Taylor breathes through every side of this wound. Concentrate is a tongue that fiercely grips the edges of love and memory before all is ripped loose. How fortunate to discover Taylor’s imagination, and her uncompromising heart, in such a world.” Rachel Eliza Griffiths, 2021 Cave Canem Prize Judge and Cave Canem Fellow

“Courtney Faye Taylor writes a syntax vexed by memory and grief in zone upon zone of language, history, and feeling. . . . This book radiates a cry, a name, ‘an incendiary grief’ so ablaze it touches everything. Concentrate is a riotous, gorgeously unruled text forged by sisterhood and resistance, across time.” Aracelis Girmay, Cave Canem Fellow

“[Courtney] has a rich and critical gaze at her own life and the lives of her cultural peers.” Dante Micheaux, Director of Programs and Cave Canem Fellow


Courtney Faye Taylor is a writer and visual artist. She is the author of Concentrate (Graywolf), selected by Rachel Eliza Griffiths as the winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Courtney earned her BA from Agnes Scott College and her MFA from the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program where she received the Hopwood Prize in Poetry. A recipient of the 92Y Discovery Prize and an Academy of American Poets Prize, Courtney’s work can be found in Poetry, The Nation, Ploughshares, Best New Poets and elsewhere.

Aracelis Girmay is the author of the poetry collections Teeth (Curbstone), Kingdom Animalia (BOA), and the black maria (BOA). She is on the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund and recently edited How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton (BOA). Girmay is currently the Editor-at-Large for BOA Editions’ Blessing the Boats Selections and is also the editor of the forthcoming So We Can Know: Writers of Color on Pregnancy, Loss, Abortion, and Birth. Her poems and essays have been published in Astra, The Paris Review, Granta, Black Renaissance Noire, and elsewhere.



This program is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Seth Sprague Educational & Charitable Foundation. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


Cave Canem is grateful to its community of institutional supporters and individual donors, listed on our website, here.