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
Cornelius Eady is the author of several books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed Hardheaded Weather, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, winner of the 1985 Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets, The Gathering of My Name, which was nominated for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize, and his most recent collection The War Against the Obvious. With poet Toi Derricotte, Eady is cofounder of Cave Canem, a national organization for African American poetry and poets. He is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literature, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to Bellagio, Italy, and The Prairie Schooner Strousse Award. Eady has been a teacher for over twenty years, and is currently the Chair of Excellence in the English Department at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.