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2019 Retreat Faculty

Co-founder Cornelius Eady

Cave Canem co-founder Cornelius Eady was born in 1954 in Rochester, New York. He is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Hardheaded Weather (Penguin, 2008). His Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (Ommation Press, 1986), won the 1985 Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets. He has collaborated with jazz composer Diedre Murray in the production of several works of musical theater, including You Don’t Miss Your Water; Running Man, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1999; Fangs, and Brutal Imagination, which received the Newsday’s Oppenheimer Award in 2002. He is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literature; a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry; a Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Traveling Scholarship; a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to Bellagio, Italy; The Prairie Schooner Strousse Award (1994); and the Elizabeth Kray Award, for service to the field of poetry from Poets House. He is a professor in the MFA program in Creative Writing and Literature at SUNY Stony Brook Southampton.


Ruth Ellen Kocher is the author of seven books of poetry, including Third Voice (Tupleo Press, 2016), Ending in Planes, winner of the Noemi Poetry Prize, Goodbye Lyric: The Gigans and Lovely Gun (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2014) and domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press 2013). Her poems have been translated into Persian in the Iranian literary magazine, She’r, and have appeared in various anthologies including, Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poets, Black Nature, From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great, An Anthology for Creative Writers: The Garden of Forking Path. She has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, and Cave Canem. She is the current Chair of the Department of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder where she teachings Poetry, Poetics, and Literature in the undergraduate and MFA writing programs.

Picture2Dawn Lundy Martin is a poet, essayist, and conceptual-video artist. She is the author of four books of poems: Good Stock Strange Blood (Coffee House, 2017); Life in a Box is a Pretty Life (Nightboat Books, 2015), which won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry; DISCIPLINE (Nightboat Books, 2011), A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering (University of Georgia Press, 2007), and three limited edition chapbooks. Her nonfiction can be found in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and elsewhere. In 2016, Martin co-founded, with poet Terrance Hayes, the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP) at the University of Pittsburgh, where she serves as the center’s Director. With Vivien Labaton, Martin also co-edited The Fire This Time: Young Activists and the New Feminism (Anchor Books, 2004), and co-founded the Third Wave Foundation and Black Took Collective. Martin is Professor of English in the writing program at the University of Pittsburgh and Co-director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics.

Picture3Willie Perdomo is the author of The Crazy Bunch (Penguin, 2019); The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon (Penguin, 2014), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Smoking Lovely (Rattapallax, 2005), winner of the PEN/Open Book Award; and Where a Nickel Costs a Dime (Norton, 1996), a finalist for the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, Bomb Magainze, and African Voices. He is currently a member of the VONA/Voices faculty, a Lucas Arts Literary Fellow and teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy.

Guest Poet: Matthew Shenoda

Picture4Matthew Shenoda has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his work has been supported by the California Arts Council and the Lannan Foundation among others. His debut poetry collection, Somewhere Else (Coffee House Press, 2005), was named one of 2005’s debut books of the year by Poets & Writers Magazine and was the winner of a 2006 American Book Award. Shenoda is also the author of Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone (BOA Editions Ltd., 2009), editor of Duppy Conqueror: New & Selected Poems by Kwame Dawes, and most recently, author of Tahrir Suite: Poems (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2014), winner of the 2015 Arab American Book Award. With Kwame Dawes, Shenoda is editor of Bearden’s Odyssey: Poets Respond to the Art of Romare Bearden (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2017). Formerly the Assistant Provost for Equity and Diversity at CalArts where he also taught in the School of Critical Studies, and the Dean of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Columbia College Chicago where he was Professor of English and Creative Writing, he is currently the Vice President of Social Equity & Inclusion and Professor of Literary Arts and Studies at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Additionally, Shenoda teaches in the low-residency MFA Writing Program at Pacific University and is a founding editor of the African Poetry Book Fund.

Co-Founders: Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady

Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Eady and Derricotte © Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Toi Derricotte has published five collections of poetry, most recently, The Undertaker’s Daughter (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011). An earlier collection of poems, Tender, won the 1998 Paterson Poetry Prize. Her literary memoir, The Black Notebooks, published by W.W. Norton, won the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her essay “Beds” is included in The Best American Essays 2011, edited by Edwidge Danticat. Recognized as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 2009, her honors include the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize for Sustained Literary Achievement; the 2012 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, for a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work represents a notable presence in American literature; the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America; two Pushcart Prizes; the Distinguished Pioneering of the Arts Award from the United Black Artists; the Alumni/Alumnae Award from New York University; the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers, Inc.; the Elizabeth Kray Award, for service to the field of poetry from Poets House; and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Maryland State Arts Council. She serves on the Academy of American Poets’ Board of Chancellors and for many years was Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

Former Faculty

Chris Abani
Elizabeth Alexander
Cyrus Cassells
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
Lucille Clifton, Elder (6/27/1936 – 2/13/2010)
Kwame Dawes
Nikky Finney
C. S. Giscombe
Michael S. Harper, Elder (3/18/1938 – 5/7/2016)
Terrance Hayes
Erica Hunt
Angela Jackson
Major Jackson
Ruth Ellen Kocher
Yusef Komunyakaa
Dawn Lundy Martin
Colleen J. McElroy
Harryette Mullen
Marilyn Nelson, Elder
Willie Perdomo
Carl Phillips
Claudia Rankine
Ed Roberson
Sonia Sanchez, Elder
Tim Seibles
Evie Shockley
Patricia Smith
Amber Flora Thomas
Natasha Trethewey
Afaa M. Weaver, Elder
Al Young, Elder
Kevin Young