Juneteenth with Cave Canem at The Met
Our nation’s newest holiday is indeed cause to celebrate. For many Black people, Juneteenth represents freedom at a greater depth than Independence Day. Hopefully, in times to come, it will be equally significant for non-Black people as well—the cause to celebrate freedom being yet another contribution by Black people to these very much divided United States.
Twenty-five years ago, Cave Canem was founded around a question of freedom: the freedom to express Blackness in all its individual and collective forms, unadulterated, through the medium of poetry. Since then, the public profile of Black poets has grown greater than it has ever been and the majority of those poets—National Book Award winners, schoolteachers, Pulitzer Prize winners, actors, National Book Critics’ Circle Award winners, college professors, members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, gardeners, and state poets laureate—are directly related to the organization through a variety of programs designed to support Black poets at various stages in their artistic production.
The ekphrastic exercise is certainly not new to poets in the Anglophone tradition, and the visual arts play an important role in the presentation of poetry in book form. One need only peruse the poetry shelf of their local bookstore, if it still exists, to see myriad artworks from around the world, in diverse styles, gracing the covers of this debut collection or that must-have anthology. Poets cannot get enough of the stuff; it’s like rocket fuel, launching our imaginations into the far reaches of color and composition, no matter the medium. To ask Black poets to mediate on works of their own choosing from the Museum’s vast collection, however, is risky. What might they reveal about the acquisitors of these works?
Continue Reading here on The Met Museum’s announcement.