Toi Derricotte

Toi Derricotte

About Toi Derricotte

Toi Derricotte, born Toinette Webster, on April 12, 1941 in Hamtramck, Michigan, is an African-American poet and university professor. She published her first poetry collection, The Empress of the Death House, (Lotus Press) in 1978 and was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2012, charge that she will occupy until 2017. She is also with Cornelius Eady the co-founder of the Cave Canem Foundation in 1996 and of the Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize in 2015. She is the author of six poetry and prose collections including Natural Birth (1999), Captivity published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 1989 and her memoir The Black Notebooks, An Interior Journey published in 1996, by Norton Publishing Company, winner of the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction.
Toi Derricotte's poetry is marked by the ambivalent and tragic experience of a fair-skinned African-American woman confronted with American racism. It is from her experience and from insulting, contemptuous, degrading words that Toi Derricotte draws her inspiration which will allow her to save her from hatred, from dereliction. Her poems, like his journal The Black Notebooks are so many testimonies on exclusion, humanism and on the human condition plaything of appearances.
She has won numerous literary awards, including the 2020 Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry awarded by the Poetry Society of America, and the 2021 Wallace Stevens Award, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. She is currently a professor emeritus of English literature and writing at the University of Pittsburgh.

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