Cover image of Cave Canem's New 2023 Strategic Plan.
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BROOKLYN, New York (April 28, 2023) — On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff, we are pleased to share with you Cave Canem’s new guiding principles.

These principles were developed during our year-long strategic planning process led by HSH Consulting LLC in consultation with the board, staff, and insights from a selection of Fellows, Faculty, and additional stakeholders such as funders, editors, agents, and academics.

The planning process helped us focus on the many accomplishments achieved during our first quarter century and identify areas to build over the next five years so that we can be of greater service to Black poets and poetry lovers.

New Vision:

Cave Canem envisions a world in which Black poets are empowered to:

  • Write authentically in a diversity of forms to tell their unique truths;
  • flourish in fellowship with other Black poets, creating bonds that transcend form, geography, class, age, and other differences;
  • have their works shared with and recognized by audiences;
  • and have access to justly paid work.

New Mission:

Cave Canem is a nonprofit organization, committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of Black poets. Founded by artists for artists, Cave Canem fosters community across the diaspora to enrich the field by facilitating a nurturing space in which to learn, experiment, create, and present. Cave Canem develops audiences for Black voices that have worked and are working in the craft of poetry.


  1. To create, maintain, and model a healthy operational culture
  2. To hold space for the full range of Black experiences, identities, and expressions
  3. To document, amplify, and celebrate Black poets’ contributions to and impact on literature
  4. To facilitate a positive change in the economics of what it means to be a Black poet by helping writers to find paths to paid work and meaningful careers

Board of Directors and Co-Founders Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady share, “The journey has been absolutely amazing, and we are so inspired to see how the board and staff will take this community forward. We are privileged to have started something that is relevant and needed to this day; and continues to serve artists with love.”

Board President Tyehimba Jess adds, “We are doing this work for the growing list of Cave Canem Fellows and look forward to deepening the ways we can support their creativity. Fellows, in their diverse backgrounds and numbers, are both the core of our work and the vehicle which lets us expand our impact.”

Cave Canem has played and will continue to play a significant role in the field. With our new strategic framework, we can build on this both for our literary peers and the continued transformation of the field—today and tomorrow—including our work on archival and oral history collections, and our various collaborative efforts with other literary organizations.

This language serves as a new guiding star for Cave Canem’s work, and we cannot wait to share our next chapter with you as it unfolds.

Learn more about Cave Canem’s strategic direction by viewing an excerpt of our strategic plan. If you would like access to the complete strategic plan, please reach out to Executive Director Lisa Willis at [email protected]