I: New and Selected Poems (Pitt Poetry Series) (Hardcover)

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I: New and Selected Poems (Pitt Poetry Series) By Toi Derricotte Cover Image

I: New and Selected Poems (Pitt Poetry Series) (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Never before has the self been so celebrated with ties to grief, pleasure, agency, and suffering. Dericotte's collection of poems is vital not only to the literary community, but to me, and for my being in the world. 

— From Staff Picks: Our Favorite Books of 2019

Winner, 2020 Frost Medal
Finalist, 2019 National Book Award
Honorable Mention, 2020 BCALA Literary Awards

Toi Derricotte’s story is a hero’s journey—a poet earning her way 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 the author finds her way through repressive forces to speak with beauty and truth.
This collection features more than thirty new poems as well as selections from five previous collections.
Toi Derricotte is an award-winning poet whose work tackles difficult and universal subject matter such as violence, racism, motherhood, and self-identity through an autobiographical lens. She is the author of The Undertaker’s Daughter and four previous poetry collections, including 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 chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Product Details ISBN: 9780822945666
ISBN-10: 0822945665
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication Date: March 26th, 2019
Pages: 320
Language: English
Series: Pitt Poetry Series
“This retrospective volume unflinchingly explores the author’s complex experiences as a light-skinned black woman in America. . . . Derricotte’s attention lingers on places of struggle where life is at its most vibrant, urgent, and surprising.” —Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“What song do you sing when you sing ‘so low we can't hear you?’ Toi Derricotte makes poetry of that song. It rises from ‘the houses where you hear the least squealing,’ it is ‘quieter than blossoms & near invisible.’ It is filled with witness and love for our literal and literary families.” —Terrance Hayes

“No writer I know of explores with more honesty the sorrows and wonders and joys and shames and tenderness of being alive. No writer is more tender. And no poems I know of make me feel witnessed, held, beheld, the way Derricotte’s do. Her poems behold us. I am so grateful for these poems. I am so grateful for Derricotte’s beautiful heart.” —Ross Gay, author of Be Holding

“These exceptional new poems reveal one of America's strongest and most ardent poets mid-strife, on fire, charging forward toward all that is false in our lives and in our world. How endlessly grateful I feel that, once again, she has allowed us to accompany her.” —Robin Coste Lewis

“The new poems in Toi Derricotte’s collection ‘I’ reveal that she has entered an entire new sphere as a poet, in which the struggles fall away and the spirits take her hands and float her forward. After years of wrestling with her demons, Derricotte has awakened—enlightened, serene, truth coming to her, through her, so casually. She has earned this grace with all her hard work, suffering and love.” —Alicia Suskin Ostriker, author of The Volcano and After

“Buy this book for cold dark winter months when you need to be held by a few words. No one can do that quite like Derricotte.”


“In this new and selected collection, Derricotte writes with her characteristic candor and grace. And Telly! Telly! Telly the goldfish, ‘his swishy tail a magisterial emblem / of the Living God.’ The ‘i’ of these poems is not afraid to love a goldfish, not afraid to write that love into poems full of trusting sincerity and deep connection. She knocks me out every time.” —Camille Dungy, Orion