Introductions: Toi Derricotte
March 10, 2021
By Rebecca Hoogs, SAL Associate Director
Toi Derricotte is the author of six collections of poetry, including “I”: New and Selected Poems, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2019. She is also the beloved co-founder, with Cornelius Eady, of Cave Canem, which was established to remedy the under-representation and isolation of African American poets in the literary landscape. The Cave Canem Foundation is a home for the many voices of African American poetry and is committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets.
Like Cave Canem, Toi’s own work offers the speaker and the reader a home, a community. It offers a place to put down the trauma, shame, and racism that Toi has experienced throughout her life. Her work offers a way to work through. It invites us in, invites us to talk about what haunts us, to let what has been secret be spoken—be aired out. In an introduction in her new and selected poems, she writes, “Every creative act, whether it is giving birth to a child, a work of art, or the self, is unique, arduous, and awe-full.” Note that Toi puts the “awe” back in the awful. She chooses joy, every time.
In this joyful, moving reading and conversation, Toi reads to us, sings to us, reveals to us the talismans of her writing life. She invites us to cherish ourselves.
We honor Toi for her lifetime of community building, activism, and poetry which sings to us. Please join me welcoming the singer of the song, the writer of the wrong, a change-maker, Toi Derricotte.
Toi Derricotte gave an online reading on February 26, 2021, as part of our 2020/21 Poetry Series; SAL Associate Director Rebecca Hoogs delivered this introduction.