Toi Derricotte, Cofounder
Poet Toi Derricotte was born in Hamtramck, Michigan and received her B.A. from Wayne State University and an M.A. in English Literature from New York University. Her books of poetry include The Empress of the Death House (1978), a collection that draws on her early experiences at her grandparents’ funeral home in Detroit, Natural Birth (1983), Captivity (1989), Tender (1997), winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize, and The Undertaker’s Daughter (2011). She has also published a collection of prose, The Black Notebooks (1997), which won the Annisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction.
In 1996, with poet Cornelius Eady, she founded Cave Canem, an organization committed to furthering the artistic and professional opportunities for African American poets. Cave Canem won the 2016 National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. Derricotte served as chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2012-2017. She teaches at the University of Pittsburgh.
Cornelius Eady, Vice President, Cofounder
Born on January 7, 1954, Cornelius Eady was raised in Rochester, New York. He attended Monroe Community College and Empire State College.
He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Hardheaded Weather (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008); Brutal Imagination (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2001), which was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award in Poetry; The Gathering of My Name (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1991), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize; and Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (Ommation Press, 1986), which was chosen by Louise Glück, Charles Simic, and Philip Booth for the 1985 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets.
In 1996, Eady and the poet Toi Derricotte founded Cave Canem, a nonprofit organization serving Black poets of various backgrounds and acting as a safe space for intellectual engagement and critical debate. Along with Derricotte, he also edited Gathering Ground (University of Michigan Press, 2006). In 2016, she and Eady accepted the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community on behalf of Cave Canem.