Toi Derricotte

There is too much to say

Thursday, October 22, 2020, 7:30 pm
Virtual Reading | 7:30pm-9pm Eastern Time
This event has ended.

Former Folger director O.B. Hardison, Jr. established the poetry series in 1968 and his guiding presence helps to sustain our dedication to poetry. Marking the 30th anniversary of his passing, the opening of our 52nd season of poetry features Toi Derricotte reading from her work.  

"There are few poets who are as brave as Toi Derricotte; brave in her subject matter and brave in how she insists that even the deepest hurts must sing on the page . . . Her poems have given vast permission to the poets who have followed her to tell the truths of their lives, and in doing that, have allowed us all a chance to re-discover the world." 

- The Frost Medal citation from The Poetry Society of America's Board of Governors

Toi Derricotte brings a fierce tenderness to the page—a lit wattage to the dark secrets we hold because of love or fear or both. Derricotte lets us know there is much to say. She will read from her recent collection of poetry I: New and Selected Poems, published in 2019 and shortlisted for the National Book Award. Her other works include The Undertaker's Daughter, Tender, Captivity, Natural Birth, and The Empress of the Death House. Her literary memoir, The Black Notebooks, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

The recipient of many literary awards and fellowships, Derricotte was awarded The Poetry Society of America’s Frost Medal in 2020 in recognition of her service to poetry. Derricotte co-founded the Cave Canem Foundation with Cornelius Eady.

Why I don’t write about George Floyd

Because there is too much to say

Because I have nothing to say

Because I don’t know what to say

Because everything has been said

Because it hurts too much to say

What can I say what can I say

Something is stuck in my throat

Something is stuck like an apple

Something is stuck like a knife

Something is stuffed like a foot

Something is stuffed like a body

Copyright © 2020 by Toi Derricotte. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 3, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.


There is still time to subscribe to the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series and enjoy unlimited access to recordings of the season’s previous readings.

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