Toi Derricotte

Toi Derricotte is the author The Undertaker’s Daughter and four previous poetry collections: The Empress of the Death House; Natural Birth; Captivity; and Tender, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among other honors. Derricotte is cofounder of Cave Canem, professor emerita at the University of Pittsburgh, and a former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

I

New & Selected

How do you gain access to the
power of parts of yourself you
abhor, and make them sing
with beauty, tenderness, and compassion?

This is a record of fifty years
of victories in the reclamation
of a poet’s voice.

The story of Toi Derricotte is a hero’s odyssey. It is the journey of a poetic voice that in each book earns her way to home, to her own commanding powers.

“I”: New and Selected Poems shows the reader both the closeness of the enemy and the poet’s inherent courage, inventiveness, and joy. It is a record of one woman’s response to the repressive and fracturing forces around the subjects of race, class, color, gender, and sexuality. Each poem is an act of victory as they find their way through the repressive forces to speak with both beauty and truth.

This collection features more than thirty new poems as well as selections from five of Derricotte’s previously published books of poetry.

The Undertaker’s Daughter

“Poems that stick with you like a song that won’t stop repeating itself in your brain, poems whose cadences burrow into your bloodstream, orchestrating your breathing long before their sense attaches its hooks to your heart.”

—Washington Post on Captivity

Tender

Toi Derricotte’s fourth collection of poetry. Tender probes sexuality, spirituality, emotion, child abuse, mother hatred, and the physical and psychological ravages of violence. These poems are raw and upsetting in subject matter, yet extremely readable.

Captivity

What are the forces that cause us to strike out and harm each other? Captivity explores the way in which the individual is held hostage by society; how the forces of racism, sexism, and classism frequently express themselves as violence within the family. The book also explores a deeper captivity, like the Jews in Egypt yearning for the Promised Land, the soul trapped in exile from God.