"There is no place on this planet, no ground, no air, no sanctuary, no wharf, no hermitage, no refuge, no time, like the one week each summer when Black poets descend on an unsuspecting space and it becomes Cave Canem."

—Nikky Finney, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South

Cave Canem's week-long retreat is held annually at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Adult African American poets, ages 21 and over, are eligible to apply. Once accepted, poets become "fellows." Most are invited to attend two additional retreats within a four-year period. Fellows who complete three years are considered "graduate fellows."

A retreat residency offers an unparalleled opportunity to study with a world-class faculty and join a community of peers. Some fellows hail from the spoken word tradition, others focus on the text. Some are formalists, others work at the cutting edge of experimentation. All are united by a common purpose to improve their craft and find safe space "where black poets, individually and collectively, can inspire and be inspired by others, relieved of any obligation to explain or defend their blackness." (Harryette Mullen)

Tuition, valued at $1,500, is provided free of charge. Participants are asked to pay a $560 room-and-board fee. Limited financial assistance for room and board is available on the basis of need. Participants are encouraged to seek alternative sources of support— for example, scholarships and grants.

Cave Canem's fiscal health and long-term sustainability depend on the philanthropy of its fellowship. Graduate fellows who give back to Cave Canem play a critical role in ensuring that the next generation of poets enjoys the same opportunities they did. A recent graduate wrote, "I choose to donate to this organization because not giving to Cave Canem is like not giving to myself." Fellows are strongly encouraged to make an annual gift to sustain the program that nurtured their own professional and creative growth.

View highlights from the 2011 Cave Canem retreat.

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2014 Retreat

When: June 15-22
Where: University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, PA, & City of Asylum/Pittsburgh
Faculty: Toi Derricotte, Cornelius Eady, Chris Abani, Tim Seibles, Patricia Smith & Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
Guest Poet:We regret that Saul Williams, previously announced, is unable to attend.

Application Period: October 1 December 2, 2013
Application Guidelines | Apply Online