Join us at the Cave Canem 25th Anniversary Reunion!

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Cave Canem is pleased to announce the Cave Canem 25th Anniversary Reunion, a virtual gathering taking place June 13-19, 2021. The reunion is in celebration of the Cave Canem Fellowship and the Cave Canem Retreat, the organization’s long-standing programs, and features reunion activities specific to the fellowship as well as a suite of public programs for general audiences. The reunion launches a yearlong recognition of the organization’s rich history and impact on American letters and the nonprofit literary arts sector.

The week is modeled after the Cave Canem Retreat, which traditionally convenes in June to host new and current fellows. Poets take daily workshops with distinguished faculty, and participate in lectures, readings, and other opportunities to hone their craft in community. The Cave Canem 25th Anniversary Reunion welcomes back all alumni to take part in similar activities, including social gatherings and exclusive workshop opportunities with poets such as Camille Dungy, Vievee Francis, Airea D. Matthews, Lenard D. Moore, Tracie Morris, Harryette Mullen, Carl Phillips, Ed Roberson, and Patricia Smith.

“While it’s unfortunate that we can’t meet in person, Cave Canem is presented with the unique opportunity to virtually engage current fellows, alumni, and the general public in celebration of the organization and our many supporters,” says Programs and Communications Manager Malcolm Tariq.

Public programs will include craft lectures delivered by LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs and Roger Reeves, roundtable discussions on the organization’s history, and featured readings. Presenting curatorial partners include City of Asylum and the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics at the University of Pittsburgh, who are also regular program partners in recent years.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming back Cave Canem fellows and alumni from the past 25 years as we gather to learn from each other and to celebrate our voices. We are honored to have this time to recognize the way we have brought our poems and visions together to change the face of American literature,” says President of the Board of Directors Tyehimba Jess.

Cave Canem was founded by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady in 1996 to remedy the under-representation and isolation of African American poets in the literary landscape. That year, the organization welcomed its first group of fellows to a retreat at Mount St. Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, New York, where they convened for the first five years. The Cave Canem Retreat is currently hosted at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. Each year, hundreds of poets apply to attend the retreat. Applicants who are invited to become fellows have five years to attend the retreat three times. Since 1996, the organization has initiated nearly 500 fellows, many of whom have earned distinguished literary awards, been appointed to university professorships, and lead prestigious cultural institutions. Notable Cave Canem faculty include Nikky Finney, Chris Abani, Afaa Michael Weaver, Elizabeth Alexander, and Kevin Young. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Cave Canem offers a broad range of other literary programs including community workshops, lectures, and reading and panel series. Delivered in collaboration with five prestigious presses, its three book prizes include the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, which has launched the careers of poets such as Natasha Trethewey and Tracy K. Smith who have gone on to have prominent careers and serve as U.S. Poets Laureate.

The Cave Canem 25th Anniversary Reunion is made possible by Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, Lannan Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council of the Arts, Opportunity Fund, Rona Jaffe Foundation, The Heinz Endowment, The Whiting Foundation, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the Cave Canem 25th Anniversary Reunion do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information on the Cave Canem 25th Anniversary Reunion, visit