Mission: To serve as a home for African-American poetry and cultivate the artistic and professional growth of African-American poets.
About the Organization: Founded by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady as a safe space for African-American poets, the organization is named after the mosaic of a dog guarding the entry to the House of the Tragic Poet in Pompeii bearing the inscription "Cave Canem" (Beware of the Dog). In the Cave Canem logo, the dog's chain is broken — a metaphorical reminder of the role the organization has played in both protecting poets and serving a catalyst for introducing new voices to the literary landscape. Since 1996, Cave Canem has grown from a gathering of some two dozen poets into an influential movement with a renowned faculty and nearly four hundred award-winning fellows nationwide.
Current Programs: The organization holds an annual tuition-free writing retreat at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg — a week-long residency featuring daily faculty-led writing workshops, lectures, and poetry readings — with accepted fellows invited to participate for up to three summers within a five-year period. Other programs include two book-prize competitions, the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize; workshops in New York City and Pittsburgh; residencies; Legacy Conversations with poets and scholars such as Lucille Clifton, Rita Dove, Arnold Rampersad, and Derek Walcott; a Poets on Craft discussion series; and the publication of various anthologies.
Website: Visitors to the site can learn about events in their area; browse profiles of the organization's faculty; check out fellows' poetry, bios, and publication lists; learn more about and purchase the organization's prize-winning collections; and/or add their name to the Cave Canem mailing list. Poets interested in becoming a Cave Canem fellow can learn more about the organization's annual week-long retreat, watch video highlights of past retreats, and/or apply to become a fellow.
Funding: Cave Canem is supported by major foundations, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Heinz Endowments, the New York Community Trust, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Booth Ferris, Ford, Lannan, and Poetry foundations; the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts; publishers; and individual donations.