Cave Canem Foundation, Inc. is a workshop/home for African American poetry. Founded in 1996 by poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady, Cave Canem offers an annual writing retreat where emerging poets may take risks in a nurturing yet demanding environment.
I owe a great deal to Cave Canem. I first applied for a Cave Canem fellowship in 1999 and was not successful. It stung a bit. I spent the following year working on my novel and taking poetry workshops at The World Stage in Los Angeles, California. When I applied again in 2000, I was accepted. I participated in the Cave Canem workshops for three consecutive years--2000, 2001, and 2002. By then, I had made the decision to continue my literary studies in a full-time MFA program.
My experiences in the Cave Canem workshops enabled me to recognize the value and impact that my poetry could have on a reader. I learned how much responsibility comes along with privilege. I made the commitment to do my homework, because all of my mentors and teachers paid dearly for the opportunity for me to have this chance.