Call for African American poets

NEW YORK — Caven Canem is currently accepting applications for its annual summer workshop for African American poets. This year’s retreat, June 12-19, will be on the Greenburg campus of the University of Pittsburgh.

Cave Canem is an organization committed to the discovery and cultivation of new voices in African American poetry. In 1996 poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady began the weeklong summer workshop/retreat to counter the under-representation and isolation of African American poets in writers’ workshops and literary programs. In Pompeii, Italy, they found a fitting symbol for the safe space they hoped to create: the mosaic of a dog guarding the entry to the House of the Tragic Poet, with the inscription cave canem (beware of the dog).

The core of the Cave Canem retreat experience is the afternoon workshops where groups of eight to 10 poets meet with a faculty member for writing exercises and critique of poems. Participants are expected to write a poem each day for presentation in the workshop. The workshop’s 2005 faculty includes Cyrus Cassell, Kwame Dawes, Toi Derricotte, Cornelius Eady, Eric Hunt, Marilyn Nelson, and C.S. Giscombe.

There is no application form or fee. Submissions, including two copies of a manuscript of six to eight poems, must be postmarked by March 15. Send with your name on each page and a cover letter that states your goal in applying and includes your address, phone number and email address to: Cave Canem Workshop/Retreat, 584 Broadway, Suite #508, New York NY 10012.

Room and board fees are $495 for the weeklong session. Once accepted, participants can apply for small scholarships to help meet that fee. Manuscripts will not be returned. Acceptance notification will be by April 30. Visit www.cavecanempoets.org for more information.