UGA Department of English to host nationally renowned poets

UGA Department of English to host nationally renowned poets at Black Poets Lean South: A Cave Canem Symposium April 3

Athens, Ga. – Several renowned writers from around the country will visit the University of Georgia campus on April 3 to celebrate African-American literature at Black Poets Lean South: A Cave Canem Symposium. The day-long event will be held Thursday, April 3 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the UGA Chapel, with a reception following. The symposium is free and open to the public.

Black Poets Lean South will feature six award-winning poets from the Cave Canem Foundation, an organization that serves to promote the work of emerging African-American authors (more information is available at www.cavecanempoets.org). Poets scheduled to participate include the two founders of Cave Canem – Cornelius Eady and Toi Derricotte – as well as Nikky Finney, Opal Moore, Sean Hill and Kyle Dargan. The symposium takes its name from an anthology of poetry edited by Finney titled The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, published in 2007 by the University of Georgia Press.

The symposium will include author readings and question-and-answer sessions throughout the day, culminating at 5 p.m. with a panel discussion moderated by Angela Elam, UGA theater alumna and host of public radio’s longest-running literary program New Letters on the Air. This panel will be followed by a book-signing.

On the evening before the start of the symposium, Wednesday, April 2, UGA’s Mandala Literary Journal will hold a release party from 7 to 10 p.m. at Ciné in downtown Athens (234 West Hancock Avenue). This celebration will feature readings by Elizabeth Fields, Lee Anne Sittler, Kamille Bostick, Calaya Reid and Daniel Hanna. Hill, UGA alumnus and former Mandala editor, will read from his new book, Blood Ties & Brown Liquor (UGA Press, 2008).

Derricotte’s books of poetry include Tender (1997), winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize; Captivity (1989); Natural Birth (1983); and The Empress of the Death House (1978). The Black Notebooks, a literary memoir, was published by W.W. Norton in 1997 and won the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction. Her honors include the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, two Pushcart Prizes, the Distinguished Pioneering of the Arts Award from the United Black Artists, the Distinguished Alumni Award from New York University, the Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers, Inc., and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council of the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Maryland State Arts Council. She is Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

Eady is the author of eight books of poetry including Hardheaded Weather: New & Selected Poems (forthcoming from Putnam); Brutal Imagination, which was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award in Poetry; the autobiography of a jukebox (1997); You Don’t Miss Your Water (1995); The Gathering of My Name (1991); BOOM BOOM BOOM (1988); Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (1985), selected by Louise Gluck, Charles Simic, and Philip Booth for the 1985 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets; and Kartunes (1980). With Derricotte, he edited Gathering Ground (2006). His honors include the Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, a Lila Wallace-Readers’ Digest Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Finney is a poet and short story writer. Her collections include The World is Round (2003); Heartwood (1997); Rice, winner of the PEN Open Book Award (1995); and On Wings Made of Grace (1985). She edited the anthology The Ringing Ear. She is recipient of a Kentucky Foundation for Women Artists Fellowship Award. In 2006, Finney, professor of creative writing at the University of Kentucky, was appointed acting director of the African American Studies and Research Program in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is also a founding member of Affrilachian Poets.

Hill’s first collection of poems, Blood Ties & Brown Liquor is available from the University of Georgia Press. A native of Milledgeville, Hill holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Houston, where he was awarded the 2003 Michener Fellowship for poetry. He also was the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bush Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, the University of Wisconsin, and work-study scholarships to Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He recently received a travel and study grant from the Jerome Foundation and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford.

Dargan is the author of Bouquet of Hungers (2007) and The Listening (2004), which won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize in 2003 – both published by UGA Press. He received his MFA as a Yusef Komunyakaa Fellow at Indiana University and is currently Distinguished Adjunct in Residence on the creative writing faculty at American University and editor of the journal, Callaloo.

Moore is the author of a collection of poems, Lot’s Daughters, a meditation on African-American womanhood. She created a suite of poems, “The Children of Middle Passaage,” for the Delfina Project, a collaborative performance work inspired by the paintings of Arturo Lindsay. A Fulbright Scholar, Moore is an associate professor of English at Spelman College.

This project is supported by the Georgia Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities and through appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly. It is cosponsored by the UGA President’s Venture Fund, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the Willson Center for the Humanities and Arts, the English Department, the Creative Writing Program, Regents’ Professor of English Judith Ortiz Cofer, the Lanier Chair, the Office of Institutional Diversity, the University of Georgia Press, and the Institute of African American Studies.