Ucross Announces A Special Residency For Black Poets

The fellowship is named for the award-winning writer Toi Derricotte, who was a Ucross Fellow in 1995.

By: May. 03, 2022

Ucross Announces A Special Residency For Black Poets

Ucross and Cave Canem have joined forces to present a literary fellowship that provides creative support to Black poets. The 2022 Toi Derricotte Residency at Ucross has been awarded to interdisciplinary poet S. Erin Batiste of Brooklyn, New York.

Presented once a year to an emerging or mid-career poet, the fellowship offers a four-week residency, which consists of uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, meals by a professional chef and the experience of the majestic High Plains on Ucross's 20,000-acre ranch in northern Wyoming. The award also includes a $1,000 cash prize and a $1,000 Ucross stipend to defray travel costs.

"Ucross is deeply honored to work with Cave Canem to expand support to Black poets," said Ucross President William Belcher. "We look forward to sharing the gift of uninterrupted time and space with S. Erin Batiste this fall through the Toi Derricotte Residency at Ucross."

The fellowship is named for the award-winning writer Toi Derricotte, who was a Ucross Fellow in 1995 and went on to cofound Cave Canem with Cornelius Eady in 1996. Over the past 25 years, Cave Canem has nurtured nearly 500 Black poets who have gone on to publish acclaimed works, win prestigious awards and become valued educators throughout the nation.

"Cave Canem is delighted to be in partnership with Ucross to offer this residency opportunity to its Fellowship, created in honor of our beloved co-founder Toi Derricotte," said Cave Canem Executive Director Lisa Willis. "We are excited that Batiste has been selected and will be able to further cultivate her poetic craft as a result of this valuable experience."

Batiste is the author of the chapbook "Glory to All Fleeting Things." She is a 2022 Tin House Debut 40 Writer in Residence and SWWIM Writer in Residence. Her work has been nominated for Pushcart, Best New Poets and Best of the Net awards; it has been exhibited in New York, is anthologized and appears in Interim, Magma, Michigan Quarterly Review and wildness, among other decorated journals. She is also a reader for The Rumpus.

Batiste is the third poet to receive the Toi Derricotte Residency at Ucross, which launched with a pilot program in 2020.

"Ucross makes room for the wild silence we all need in order to live more courageously into our voices," said inaugural Fellow Karma Mayet Johnson, an acclaimed writer and performer.

"I'm thankful for the partnership between Ucross and Cave Canem," said Darrel Alejandro Holnes, the 2021 Fellow, whose book, "Stepmotherland," has received many accolades since its publication in February. "(Cave Canem) is a home for Black poetry, and I'm so grateful that the home space includes the beautiful Ucross Foundation."

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.

A 501-c-3 nonprofit literary service organization with administrative and programming headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, Cave Canem has grown from a gathering of 26 poets to become an influential movement with a renowned faculty, high-achieving national fellowship of over 400 and a workshop community of 900.

Cave Canem's programs and publications enlarge the American literary canon; democratize archives; and expand for students, aspiring poets and readers the notion of what is possible and valuable in a poem. In Cave Canem, poets of color find productive space for writing without fear of censure or the need to defend subject matter or language - an intellectual and physical site where they validate their own and their peers' voices and deeply know that s/he is not "the only one."

Located in northeast Wyoming in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, Ucross fosters the creative spirit of deeply Committed Artists and groups by providing uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, and the experience of the majestic High Plains, while serving as a responsible steward of its 20,000-acre ranch. Residencies are awarded to 100 artists each year. Ten artists are in residence at one time, typically a mix of four visual artists, four writers, and two composers.

Since the residency program began in 1983, Ucross has provided more than 2,500 residencies to writers, visual artists, and composers, including such distinguished fellows as Annie Proulx, Terry Tempest Williams, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett, Ricky Ian Gordon, Bill Morrison, Theaster Gates, Anthony Hernandez, and Tayari Jones. National Book Award winners Susan Choi, Sigrid Nunez, and Sarah M. Broom have been residents, as have Academy Award and Tony winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Emmy Award winner Billy Porter, recent Pulitzer Prize winners Michael R. Jackson and Colson Whitehead, and current United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.

Ucross participates in a number of partnerships with national organizations that enhance its ability to support outstanding individual artists with residencies. National partners include The Sundance Institute Theatre Program, the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, the Whiting Foundation, the Ford Family Foundation, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, The Alley Theatre, UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance, the Yale School of Drama and the Yale School of Music, the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Cave Canem, and The Blank Theatre (Los Angeles).


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