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Every Shining Gift: A Birthday Celebration for Toi Derricotte

April 10, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

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Join us for an evening of poetry, stories, and reflection in celebration of our beloved, renowned poet and co-founder, Toi Derricotte. This virtual program celebrates Derricotte’s 80th year and serves as a fundraiser on behalf of Cave Canem. Hosted by Cave Canem fellow and former Board President Amanda Johnston, the event features guest poets Mahogany Browne, Camonghne Felix, Joanne Gabbin, Terrance Hayes, Evie Shockley reading poems written and inspired by Toi Derricotte, and personal reflections.

View a recording of the event here.


“I give in to an old desire” by Toi Derricotte: Commemorative Broadside
A special edition broadside of the original poem, “I give in to an old desire” by Toi Derricotte, including a limited run of 50 signed and numbered prints are available.

The broadsides are designed by the Detroit-based artist, designer, and letterpress printer Ben Blount.

Limited edition broadsides are signed and numbered by Toi Derricotte.

Tax and shipping within the continental United States is included in the list price. All orders will receive a confirmation email once the broadside is shipped. Broadsides will begin shipping in April. All broadsides will continue to sell during and beyond the date of the program until sold out. Thank you for your patience as a small but mighty team work to fulfill all orders.

Suggested donation: $25
Commemorative Broadside: $50
Limited Edition Commemorative Broadsides, Signed and Number: $250

To purchase a broadside, visit our Eventbrite page here, and click “Register.”


Contribute to Toi Derricotte’s Photo Book
Cave Canem is gathering messages of love and appreciation to gift Toi Derricotte with a photo book in honor of her special day.

Whether or not attendance is possible, all are welcome to submit a photo and/or a message of love, appreciation and reflection for Toi Derricotte’s photo book. To participate, please submit your message or memorable photo to [email protected].

If possible, please ensure images are submitted as high resolution photos.


Toi Derricotte is the recipient of the 2020 Frost Medal from Poetry Society of America.  Her sixth collections of poetry, “I” New and Selected Poems, was published in 2019 and shortlisted for the 2019 National Book Award.  Other books of poetry include The Undertaker’s Daughter, Tender, Captivity, Natural Birth and The Empress of the Death House.  Her literary memoir, The Black Notebooks, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her numerous literary awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.  She was awarded the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize for Sustained Literary Achievement, a Distinguished Pioneering of the Arts Award from the United Black Artists, the 2012 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. With Cornelius Eady, Derricotte co-founded the Cave Canem Foundation in 1996. They are co-recipients of the Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award, the City of Literature Paul Engle Prize and the MLA Phyllis Franklin Award. She is Professor Emerita from University of Pittsburgh and a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer and educator. Executive Director of Bowery Poetry Club & Artistic Director of Urban Word NYC and Poetry Coordinator at St. Francis College. Browne has received fellowships from Agnes Gund, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research and Rauschenberg. She is the author of most recent works: Chlorine Sky, Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby, and Black Girl Magic. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. 

Camonghne Felix, is a poet, a writer, speaker, and political strategist. She received an M.A. in Arts Politics from NYU, an MFA from Bard College, and has received Fellowships from Cave Canem, Callaloo, and Poets House. Her first full-length collection of poems, Build Yourself a Boat (Haymarket Books), was longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry. Her books Dyscalculia and Let the Poets Govern are forthcoming from Penguin Random House.

A professor of English at James Madison University, Joanne V. Gabbin was the director of the JMU Honors Program when she hosted the premier Furious Flower Poetry Conference in 1994, which was the first academic conference on Black poetry. In 2005, after the grand success of another major Furious Flower Poetry Conference in 2004, JMU formally established the Furious Flower Poetry Center, the first and at the time only academic center devoted to Black poetry. She is the author of Sterling A. Brown: Building the Black Aesthetic Tradition, editor of Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present and The Furious Flowering of African American Poetry, and executive producer of the Furious Flower video and DVD series. She is also founder and organizer of the Wintergreen Women Writers’ Collective, and as editor of Shaping Memories: Reflections of African American Women Writers collected their stories. Among other book projects, she authored the children’s book, I Bet She Called Me Sugar Plum. A dedicated teacher and scholar, Dr. Gabbin has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching and scholarship.

Amanda Johnston earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. She is the author of two chapbooks, GUAP and Lock & Key, and the full-length collection Another Way to Say Enter. Her work has appeared in numerous online and print publications, among them, Callaloo, Poetry Magazine, Puerto del Sol, Muzzle, and the anthologies, Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry and Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism. She has received fellowships, grants, and awards from Cave Canem Foundation, Hedgebrook, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Austin International Poetry Festival. She is a member of the Affrilachian Poets, cofounder of Black Poets Speak Out, and founder of Torch Literary Arts.

Evie Shockley is a poet and scholar. Her most recent poetry collections are the new black (Wesleyan, 2011) and semiautomatic (Wesleyan, 2017); both won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the latter was a finalist for the Pulitzer and LA Times Book Prizes.  She has received the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, the Stephen Henderson Award, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and Cave Canem.  Shockley is Professor of English at Rutgers University.



The Artist Behind the Broadside

Ben Blount was born and raised in Detroit. He is a designer and letterpress printer that loves type, teaching, and putting ink on paper. Sometimes he turns what he prints into books. His work explores questions of race and identity and the stories we tell ourselves about living in America. Truth tellers and rabble rousers in all areas of popular culture inspire his work—from Dave Chapelle and Kara Walker to Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and Amos Kennedy. He learned a lot about design at Washington University in St. Louis, a lot about printing at Columbia College Chicago, and filled in the gaps with great mentors and increasingly consistent practice.


April 10, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category: