Toi Derricotte

Toi Derricotte, born in Detroit, Michigan, is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently, The Undertaker’s Daughter (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), described by Natasha Trethewey as “a courageous act of healing and redemption… proving again that art is as much about beauty as it is about reckoning, empathy, and self-discovery.” An earlier collection of poems, Tender, won the 1998 Paterson Poetry Prize; and her literary memoir, The Black Notebooks (W.W. Norton), received the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Recognized as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania, Derricotte’s honors include the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize for Sustained Literary Achievement; the 2012 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry for a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work represents a notable presence in American literature; the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America; two Pushcart Prizes; the Distinguished Pioneering of the Arts Award from the United Black Artists; the Alumni/Alumnae Award from New York University; the Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award from Poets & Writers, Inc.; the Elizabeth Kray Award for service to the field of poetry from Poets House; and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Maryland State Arts Council.

More than one-thousand of Derricotte’s poems have been published in magazines and journals, including The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Callaloo and The Paris Review. Her essay “Beds” is included in The Best American Essays 2011, edited by Edwidge Danticat, and “Beginning Dialogues” appears in The Best American Essays 2006, edited by Lauren Slater. With Cornelius Eady, she co-founded Cave Canem Foundation, the nation’s premier “home for Black poetry.” Professor Emerita at the University of Pittsburgh, she serves on the Academy of American Poets’ Board of Chancellors.