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Journal, Day One
Hi! I’m Tyehimba Jess, and I am really glad to host this blog for the next week!
It is with deep satisfaction and joy that I am able to announce the first anthology of verse from Cave Canem, an organization committed to the discovery and cultivation of new voices in African American poetry. Gathering Ground : A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade is a ground-breaking collection of poetry that highlights some of America’s most talented poets that have come to the fore in the past decade, and others who have been established for some time.
Why is Cave Canem so important? Started in 1996 by Cornelius Eady and Toi Derricotte, the organization provides a space for black poets to come together and workshop their poems together for one week each summer. Participants are chosen through a rigorous application process, and may attend for three summers in a five year span.
Black poets from all walks of life attend Cave Canem—gay, straight, East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, Caribbean, as young as nineteen and as old as ninety. Black poets from all sorts of traditions—spoken word, slam, experimental, those with Phd.’s and MFA’s and those without college degrees—the strength of CC lies in its ability to provide a house for so many diverse poets who are all about the same thing—pursuit of excellence in the craft of poetry.
CC provided me with a community of poets who cheer each other along, while holding each other to the highest standards of craft. CC has also provided a breakthrough from the terrible isolation that many Black poets, torturing their way through advanced degrees or laboring alone in their little towns across the country, experienced in the past.
If you want to get a pulse on what has happened in African American Poetry in the past decade, and if you want to read the future of African American Literature—then this anthology is an essential part of your collection.