Toi Derricotte (pronounced DARE-ah-cot ) is an American poet and a professor of writing at University of Pittsburgh.
At Wayne State University she earned a B.A. in 1965 and an M.A. in 1984 at New York University in English literature.
Derricotte was born the daughter of Antonia Baquet, a Creole from Louisiana, and Benjamin Sweeney Webster, a Kentucky native, and later half-sister to Benjamin, Jr. At around ten or eleven years old, she began a secret journal that included, among other things, the disintegration of her parents' marriage and the death of her grandmother on whom she was very emotionally dependent. During her years at Detroit's Girls ... more »
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Toi Derricotte Poems
That time my grandmother dragged me through the perfume aisles at Saks, she held me up by my arm, hissing, "Stand up," through clenched teeth, her eyes
They told my cousin Rowena not to marry Calvin―she was too young, just eighteen, & he was too dark, too too dark, as if he had been washed in what we wanted
From a Letter: About Snow
I am at a retreat house, and the nun who runs the house told me to look at my face in the mirror.
Those huge platters on their heads on which everything is placed accurately, each small red pepper, prawn, each orange―each arranged in piles so tall they defy gravity―
For Black Women Who Are Afraid
A black woman comes up to me at break in the writing workshop and reads me her poem, but she says she can't read it out loud because there's a woman in a car on her way
A Note on My Son's Face
Tonight, I look, thunderstruck at the gold head of my grandchild. Almost asleep, he buries his feet
Elegy For My Husband
What was there is no longer there: Not the blood running its wires of flame through the whole length Not the memories, the texts written in the language of the flat hills No, not the memories, the porch swing and the father crying
Quotationsmore quotations »
''Poetry asks people to have values, form opinions, care about some other part of experience besides making money and being successful on the job.''Toi Derricotte (b. 1941), African American poet. As quoted in A Gift That Cannot Be Refused, ch. 8, by Mary Biggs (1990). Written in 1983.
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)
That time my grandmother dragged me
through the perfume aisles at Saks, she held me up
by my arm, hissing, "Stand up,"
through clenched teeth, her eyes
bright as a dog's
cornered in the light.
She said it over and over,
as if she were Jesus,
and I were dead.She had been
solid as a tree,
a fur around her neck, a
light-skinned matron whose car was parked, who walked
marble and passed through
brass openings--in 1945.
There was not even a black
elevator operator at Saks.
The saleswoman had brought velvet
leggings to lace ...