Toi Derricotte -News!


PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry 2012 Winner


The PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, established by a bequest from Hunce Voelcker, this award is given to a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work to date represents a notable and accomplished presence in American literature. The poet honored by the award is one for whom the exceptional promise seen in earlier work has been fulfilled, and who continues to mature with each successive volume of poetry. The award is given in even-numbered years and carries a stipend of $5,000.


2012 Judges: Dan Chiasson, Aracelis Girmay, and A. Van Jordan 


Toi Derricotte


The judges wrote in their citation:


"We are very proud to name Toi Derricotte the winner of this year's PEN/Voelcker Award. Derricotte is the author of five books of poetry: The Undertaker's Daughter; Tender; Captivity; Natural Birth; The Empress of the Death House; and the literary memoir, The Black Notebooks. Her poems carry both truth and a higher knowledge in scenes of everyday life, consistently depicted through taut language. And her voice is, at once, tender and unflinching. A voice that she has honed over her long career from poem to poem and book to book as she investigates a distinctly American psyche rendered by experiences of race, color, gender, and grief, however blatant, however nuanced. The poems remind readers that personal and societal histories intersect sometimes in the most brutal, the most tender, and the most surprising of ways. In Tender she writes, "'At the still point of the turning world,' the job of the artist is not to resolve or beautify, but to hold complexities, to see and make clear." Derricotte's poems push readers and practitioners into the hard work of seeing with rigor, intelligence, and grace. Her intellect and her imagination continue to forge new territory in the field of poetry, challenging what we think a poem might be and what we think it might do in the world."




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2012 Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement


for Previous Winners of The Paterson Poetry Prize



Toi Derricotte, The Undertaker’s Daughter


(University of Pittsburgh Press)



dogMedia Contact:
Hafizah Geter, Programs Coordinator, Cave Canem Foundation: 718.858.0000;


Toi Derricotte debuts The Undertaker’s Daughter in New York City

Award-winning Poet Reads at The New School & Conducts Master Class in DUMBO

Brooklyn, NY (January 27, 2012)—Cave Canem Foundation, North America’s premier home for black poetry, is pleased to announce that Cave Canem co-founder Toi Derricotte will debut her fifth collection of poetry, The Undertaker’s Daughter, hailed by Terrance Hayes as her “her most stirring and innovative work yet,” on Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 6:30 pm at The New School’s Wolman Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor, New York City. A book signing with the author and a reception will follow; the program is free and open to the public. In a rare opportunity for New Yorkers, on Saturday, February 18, 10 am – 1 pm, the poet will conduct “Poetry or Prose: Rethinking the Poetic Line,” a master class held at Cave Canem, 20 Jay Street, Suite 310-A, Brooklyn, New York. For more information and to register, visit or call 718.858.0000.


Toi Derricotte, Jane Hirshfield, and Arthur Sze

Elected Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets


New York, January 17—Tree Swenson, Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets, announced that Toi Derricotte, Jane Hirshfield, and Arthur Sze have been elected to the Board of Chancellors, the Academy's advisory board of distinguished poets. tderricotteThe new Chancellors were elected by current Academy Chancellors Victor Hernández Cruz, Mark Doty, Rita Dove, Marilyn Hacker, Lyn Hejinian, Juan Felipe Herrera, Edward Hirsch, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sharon Olds, Ron Padgett, Carl Phillips, Marie Ponsot, Kay Ryan, Gerald Stern, and Anne Waldman.


In 1996, with Cornelius Eady, Toi co-founded the Cave Canem Foundation, a "home for black poetry." She is the author of several collections of poetry including, The Undertaker's Daughter (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), Tender (1997), which won the 1998 Paterson Poetry Prize, Captivity (1989), and The Empress of the Death House (Lotus Press, 1978). Her memoir, The Black Notebooks (W.W. Norton, 1997) was a New York Times Notable Book. Derricotte's honors include the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Elizabeth Kray Award for service to the field of poetry from Poets House, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She is a Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.