Poet's Workshop Focuses on Black Writers Ages 18 to 90

By Law, Dawn | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 29, 2008 | Go to article overview

Poet's Workshop Focuses on Black Writers Ages 18 to 90


Law, Dawn, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Poetic get-together

A meeting of brilliant minds and an exchange of beautiful thoughts filled the halls of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg last week, during a week-long poet's workshop called Cave Canem, which focuses on bolstering the craft for black writers.

The nonprofit organization, which calls itself "North America's premier home for Black poetry" is based in New York, but was co- founded by University of Pittsburgh professor Toi Derricotte, whose idea for a summer retreat turned into fellowships that include regional workshops, book prizes, anthologies, reading and events in cities across the country.

More than 50 fellows attended the weeklong retreat in Greensburg, many of whom are described as emerging poets helping to support each other's work. They range in age from 18 to 90 and are carefully selected, based on their submission of eight poems, from thousands of applicants across the United States.

L'Oreal Snell of Pittsburgh, 26, said she was surprised she was accepted on her first try. "I love to leave the city and come to Greensburg so I can focus on nothing but poetry," she said.

And focus she did Monday night on three readings given by Cave Canem faculty members, including Derricotte, a New York Times notable author; Cornelius Eady, co-founder of the organization and a Pulitzer Prize nominee; and Carl Phillips, a finalist for the National Book Award.

Thursday night's event was held at the Westmoreland Museum of American art, and featured more faculty readings, including those from Colleen J. McElroy, Claudia Rankine and Ed Roberson.

The retreat is sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh, Heinz Endowments, Ford Foundation, Multicultural Arts Initiative, Poetry Foundation and Jenny McKean Moore Fun for Writers.

-- Jennifer Miele, WTAE

Book signing by Seton Hill writers

One year ago, Maria Snyder was finishing a graduate degree at Seton Hill University. Today, you'll find her name on The New York Times best-seller list.

Her fans flocked to Barnes and Noble in Greensburg Friday night for the Writing Popular Fiction alumni book-signing. In fact, Rebekah Dedmon, Mary Monroe, Steven Koons and Chelsi Giza drove from Indiana carrying 15 copies of Snyder's "Fantasy Thriller Trilogy" to be signed.

Snyder is from Elizabethtown. After graduation, the university invited her to become one of their Writers in Residence. More than a dozen others joined her at the book-signing. They talked about the seminars and mentoring they provide throughout the year to aspiring writers at the school.

Marty McGuire, Barnes and Noble's public relations director, said Snyder's books, "The Poison Study," "The Magic Study" and "The Fire Study" sold out during the signing, but more are coming in this week. They follow the intriguing life of a young woman whose magical powers bring about powerful enemies.

Writer in Residence Lawrence Connolly of Moon said Seton Hill's program centers around writing popular fiction. Students write a novel as part of the curriculum. …

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