Toi Derricotte opens Carr Reading Series April 4
Award-winning poet and memoirist Toi Derricotte will visit the UI campus to open the spring semester Carr Reading Series on April 4.
Derricotte’s 1997 memoir “The Black Notebooks” distilled 20 years of journal-keeping into a chronicle of the racism she experienced as a light-skinned black woman, often mistaken for white. The book won numerous awards and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Derricotte is also the author of five books of poetry, most recently “The Undertaker’s Daughter,” which looks back on her childhood in an abusive home, but “is about how one regains the self,” she recently told Pittsburgh City Paper.
Derricotte’s long list of honors includes two Pushcart Prizes, a Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She co-founded Cave Canem, a workshop and retreat for African-American poets, and is a chancellor to the Academy of American Poets. She is an English professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
Joy Harjo, a member of the Muskogee (Creek) Nation whose most-anthologized poem is “She Had Some Horses,” will read from her forthcoming memoir “Crazy Brave” on April 11. Her seven books of poetry have won a variety of awards, including a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas. She’s the author of a young adult novel (“For a Girl Becoming”), and a collection of essays, interviews and newspaper columns called “Soul Talk, Song Language.” In addition to her books, Harjo has released four CDs of original music and won the Native American Music Award for female artist of the year in 2009. She has performed her one-woman play, “Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light,” at the Public Theater in New York City.
Amelia Gray will read from her first novel, “Threats,” on April 18. She was awarded the Ronald Sukenick/American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize for her short-story collection “Museum of the Weird.” Her novel was recently the topic of Huffington Post’s “The Book We’re Talking About This Week” feature.
All three readings begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Author’s Corner on the second floor of the Illini Union Bookstore. The Carr Reading Series is made possible by a gift from Robert and Katherin Carr. The events are free and open to the public.