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Starshine and Clay Fellowship

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Developed in 2020 with EcoTheo Review, and LOGOS Poetry Collective, the Starshine and Clay Fellowship provides financial and development support to emerging Black poets, and fundraising opportunities for Cave Canem. The initiative is named in honor of Cave Canem elder Lucille Clifton (“won’t you celebrate with me”), and speaks to the mentorship Clifton offered Cave Canem fellows during her tenure as faculty at the Cave Canem Retreat. Fellowship recipients receive a monetary reward as well as opportunities to work on their craft and network with other poets as a cohort.

2021 Starshine and Clay Fellowship

Award: Four recipients will each receive $500, $500 for a LOGOS reading, a $500 travel stipend and free lodging to attend the upcoming WONDER in Wyoming conference, a one-on-one consultation with the final judge, and master classes and other opportunities provided by Cave Canem. The poets will also have their work published in the Summer 2021 issue of EcoTheo Review, with proceeds of the sale going to Cave Canem.

Deadline: Applications must be received via Submittable by January 31, 2021, 11:59 pm EST.

Entry Fee: There is no entry fee for this fellowship application.

Final Judge: Gregory Pardlo

First Readers: Adrienne Christian, Tyree Daye, Yolanda Franklin and Charif Shanahan

Manuscripts are read without the reviewers and judge’s knowledge of contestants’ identities.

Eligibility: All adult Black writers who have not had a full-length book published by or currently under contract with a professional press. Authors of chapbooks and self-published books with a maximum print run of 500 may apply.

Exclusions: Current or former students, colleagues, employees, family members and close friends of the judge; current or former employees and members of the board of Cave Canem Foundation, EcoTheo, or LOGOS Poetry Collective. If any of the selected poets fall under the above exclusions, they will be disqualified and a replacement will be chosen from among the finalists. As the poetry community is small and the contest is judged without knowledge of the submitter’s identity, acquaintance with the judge or participation in a workshop taught by the judge are not disqualifying criteria.


  • 8-12 pages of unpublished poems. A poem may be multiple pages, but no more than one poem per page is permitted.
  • The fellowship welcomes poets writing from a variety of themes and perspectives, and poets writing on ecological, spiritual, and/or theological concerns are particularly encouraged to apply.
  • Submit manuscripts online via Submittable. Hard copy submissions will not be considered. One manuscript per poet allowed.
  • Author’s name should not appear on any pages within the uploaded document.
  • Upload manuscript as a .doc or .pdf document.
  • Manuscripts not adhering to submission guidelines will not be considered.
  • Post-submission revisions or corrections are not permitted.


  • Cave Canem fellows and alumni are welcomed to apply, but no more than two may receive this fellowship per cohort.
  • Please update Submittable contact information if it does not include the most current email address and phone number. Cave Canem will use this information if as needed to contact contestants.

: EcoTheo Review and LOGOS Poetry Collective