(Left to right: Natasha Tretheway, Toi Derricotte, Cornelius Eady, Elizabeth Alexander, and Terrance Hayes)
Ten years. To think that Toi and Cornelius started this writers' group for African American poets from scratch into a force in the poetry community is simply amazing. On Friday, Cave Canem was featured at Dodge for a panel discussion about the group's 10th anniversary. I'm guessing that there was 60-70 people in attendance, with faces from all backgrounds learning about the group's origins and development.
Once accepted, you have the option of attending the annual retreat a total of three times. I attended in its second and fourth years, and still feel the connection whenever I meet up with CC fellows. (On a personal note, Toi was the professor who introduced me to poetry 20 years ago at Old Dominion University.)
CC is the epitome of strength in numbers. I think that was the most impressive note stuck at the discussion. Doesn't matter if you have an MFA or not. Doesn't matter if you've published or not. Doesn't matter if you're a spoken word poet or a formalist. You just have to be good. And the nice part about it is seeing many more members (more than 230) get first books published. It's a powerful thing to watch people who look like me have success in the art that I love so much.CC will be having a 10-year anniversary celebration October 12-14 in New York City. Visit the Web site for a schedule of events.