City of Asylum @ Alphabet City
One of Pittsburgh’s most anticipated poetry events returns! Each June since 2010, City of Asylum has presented the poets of Cave Canem. The poets and their readings are unique in their appeal to both devoted and casual poetry audiences. These are rousing performances that speak to issues of the day with beauty and excitement. Poets have included future Poet Laureates, National Book Award winners, MacArthur “Genius” award winners, and Pulitzer Prize winners.
This year’s annual reading will continue the tradition with acclaimed poets Cornelius Eady, Ruth Ellen Kocher and Matthew Shenoda. A book signing with the poets will follow the reading.
Cornelius Eady was born in 1954 in Rochester, New York. He is the author of nine books of poetry, most recently The War Against the Obvious (Jarcar Press, 2018). His Victims of the Latest Dance Craze (Ommation Press, 1986), won the 1985 Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and collection The Father of my Name (Carnegie Mellon, 1991) was nominated for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize. He has collaborated with jazz composer Diedre Murray in the production of several works of musical theater, including You Don’t Miss Your Water; Running Man, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1999; Fangs, and Brutal Imagination, which received the Newsday’s Oppenheimer Award in 2002. He is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literature; a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry; a Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Traveling Scholarship; a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to Bellagio, Italy; The Prairie Schooner Strousse Award (1994); and the Elizabeth Kray Award, for service to the field of poetry from Poets House. He is a professor in the MFA program in Creative Writing and Literature at SUNY Stony Brook Southampton.
Ruth Ellen Kocher is the author of seven books of poetry, including Third Voice (Tupleo Press, 2016), Ending in Planes, winner of the Noemi Poetry Prize, Goodbye Lyric: The Gigans and Lovely Gun (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2014) and domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press 2013). Her poems have been translated into Persian in the Iranian literary magazine, She’r, and have appeared in various anthologies including, Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poets; Black Nature, From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterateand Just Plain Sound Great; and An Anthology for Creative Writers: The Garden of Forking Path. She has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo and Cave Canem. She is the current Chair of the Department of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder where she teachings Poetry, Poetics, and Literature in the undergraduate and MFA writing programs.
Matthew Shenoda has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his work has been supported by the California Arts Council and the Lannan Foundation, among others. His debut poetry collection, Somewhere Else (Coffee House Press, 2005), was named one of 2005’s debut books of the year by Poets & Writers Magazine and was the winner of a 2006 American Book Award. Shenoda is also the author of Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone (BOA Editions Ltd., 2009), editor of Duppy Conqueror: New & Selected Poems by Kwame Dawes, and most recently, author of Tahrir Suite: Poems(TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2014), winner of the 2015 Arab American Book Award. With Kwame Dawes, Shenoda is editor of Bearden’s Odyssey: Poets Respond to the Art of Romare Bearden (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2017). Formerly the Assistant Provost for Equity and Diversity at CalArts where he also taught in the School of Critical Studies, and the Dean of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Columbia College Chicago, where he was Professor of English and Creative Writing, he is currently the Vice President of Social Equity & Inclusion and Professor of Literary Arts and Studies at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Additionally, Shenoda teaches in the low-residency MFA Writing Program at Pacific University and is a founding editor of the African Poetry Book Fund.
Founded by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady in 1996 to remedy the under-representation and isolation of African American poets in the literary landscape, 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.