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Insights into Society and Culture

Building a Community of Writers


Pitt writers have won some of the most prestigious literary prizes in the country. They’ve also contributed to Pittsburgh’s growing community of writers through programs like the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series and Cave Canem, the workshop/retreat for African American poets.

Professor Toi Derricotte cofounded Cave Canem, a workshop-retreat for African American poets, in 1996. Since then, the program has nurtured Pulitzer Prize winners and published two anthologies of poetry.

Learn more about Professor Derricotte and Cave Canem. 

Lynn Emanuel’s work has been featured in the Best American Poetry anthology numerous times. She says her most recent collection of poems “summons America before the bench.”

Read Professor Emanuel’s poems and essays

Chuck Kinder’s novel, Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale, is based on his close friendship with short story writer and poet Raymond Carver. The novel has been reprinted in Italy (where it became a best-seller), France, Spain, and most recently Israel.

Read a review of “The Honeymooners” from the New York Times.


Dawn Lundy Martin addresses gender, race, and sexuality in her creative and critical work. She is cofounder of the Third Wave Foundation, an activist foundation that works nationally to support young women and transgender youth ages 15 to 30.

Watch Lundy Martin read her poem “Religion Song.”

Pitt alumnus Michael Chabon won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

Listen to an interview with Chabon about his new book.


In 2010, Pitt alumnus Terrance Hayes won the National Book Award in Poetry. In 2011, he returned to read at the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series.

Get more information about the series and hear Hayes read.

Browse the Writing Program's Web site.