The Retreat

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“There is no place on this planet, no ground, no air, no sanctuary, no wharf, no hermitage, no refuge, no time, like the one week each summer when Black poets descend on an unsuspecting space and it becomes Cave Canem.”
Nikky Finney, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South

Cave Canem’s 2024 Retreat will be held June 9 to June 16, 2024, at the University of Pittsburgh | Greensburg. Black poets of African descent, ages 21 and over, are eligible to apply. Once accepted, poets become “fellows.” Most are invited to attend two additional retreats within a five-year period.

Our Retreat residency offers an unparalleled opportunity to study with a world-class faculty and join a community of peers. Some fellows hail from the spoken word tradition, others focus on the text. Some are formalists, others work at the cutting edge of experimentation. All are united by a common purpose to improve their craft and find productive space, as Harryette Mullen says, “where black poets, individually and collectively, can inspire and be inspired by others, relieved of any obligation to explain or defend their blackness.”

2024 Retreat

Visit our Submittable to Apply

Fellows receive an unparalleled opportunity to study with a world-class faculty and join a community of peers at the Retreat, a week-long series of intensive poetry workshops, thought-provoking presentations, both public & private readings, and creative discourse. Due to our generous community of institutional funders and individual donors, there is no submission fee for the Fellowship application and the Cave Canem Retreat is free to all Fellows.

The Cave Canem Fellowship includes:

  • Invitation to the Retreat
  • Access to Fellows and Faculty fund
  • Access to scholarships for select writing residences
  • Archival training
  • Inclusion in Cave Canem public programming (readings, panels, multigenre collaborations, etc.)
  • Subscription to Digest, a bimonthly Cave Canem resource containing community news and exclusive offers
  • One year subscription to Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora for all new Fellows


QUESTIONS? Email us here.