22 June 2006

Inside Cave Canem

Unlike Las Vegas, what happens at the Cave Canem: Black Poetry Workshop/Retreat doesn't stay at Cave Canem (well, SOME things -- like lousy drafts of poems -- do stay there but not everything...) People those of us who have been through the three year program always find it difficult to explain to people what the big deal is: the excitement of being part of a large, diverse group of black poets, the all nighters you pull in order to produce a poem every day for a week, the strong sense of connection you feel with others who've been through it. Call it Poetry Boot Camp, or the 'Black Breadloaf,' there's something special that happens when you bring a group of talented African-American writers together that's almost impossible to describe.

But now someone's attempting to do just that. Tyehimba Jess is now blogging from this year's retreat on Dog Bytes, recording the sights and sounds of the week. In addition to being an amazing poet (you do have his award-winning book, Leadbelly, don't you?), performer, and the first person I met at my first year at the retreat, he also has great blog experience from doing one of the Poetry Foundation's Journal's earlier this year. A sharp observer and an entertaining writer, his account of the week is the next best thing to being there.