Furious Flower

Mirrors and Windows - writing conference

Thu, 3 Mar 2016 4:00 PM - Sat, 5 Mar 2016 12:00 PM

Students attending Furious Flower's 2012 Collegiate Summit
Furious Flower Poetry Center presents the 2016 Collegiate Summit for undergraduate creative writers at JMU's Festival Conference & Student Center this spring.

Mirrors and Windows logo

When You Arrive

Check-in begins at 4pm on Thursday, March 3 in the Festival Conference & Student Center Ballroom. Please visit the check-in table to pick up your information packet and nametag, which will give you access to all of the Collegiate Summit events.

Guest parking is available without a permit directly across from the Festival building in lots C11, C12, and D3. All parking regulations for JMU students, faculty and staff will remain in effect, and students attending the event are required to park in appropriate student parking lots with a JMU parking permit. Regular enforcement will continue in other parking lots, and you may receive a parking citation if parked in restricted lots. Parking is prohibited in specialty spaces such as Service Vehicle spaces, handicap spaces without proper permit, or expired meters. Parking is also prohibited in Fire Lanes.

Getting to Harrisonburg and JMU:

Getting around Harrisonburg and JMU: If you stay at the Hampton Inn (540-432-1111), you’ll be within walking distance (0.9 miles) of the Festival Conference & Student Center. You’ll also have access to city transit buses, and JMU’s “Bus Finder” app will be helpful if you’d like to use this system.

About the Conference: Poetry as a Means of Reflection and Engagement

Workshops taught by leading poets, novelists, and authors of books for kids challenge you to consider how you can empower young people with your poetry and prose by 

  1. Creating opportunities for diverse young readers to see themselves and their experiences reflected in your work—and therefore see themselves and their experiences as valuable
  2. Helping them better understand the world around them by exploring both contemporary and historical social issues

Small-group workshop themes include writing about controversial subjects with young readers in mind, the music of poetry, and how to use powerful—but accessible—language to reach a diverse readership. You’ll attend two of these workshops on Friday, choosing your topics when you register online. For workshop descriptions, please see below.

Event dates: March 3–5, 2016

On-site enrollment is available with payment by check ONLY. 

Your registration fee of $75 
covers enrollment in workshops with these writers PLUS two poetry readings, a panel of scholars,
one large-group writing workshop, and a buffet/banquet on Friday evening.
(See below for more details on the schedule.)

Featured Writers

Kwame Alexander | Mahogany Browne | Meg Medina | Tony Medina

Featured Writers: Alexander, Browne, Medina and Medina

Kwame Alexander | Poetry | Do the Write Thing: Building a Career in Poetry and Publishing for Children and Young Adult Literature
In this energetic, inspirational, and fun-filled workshop, you will explore what it means and what it takes to have a career in poetry, publishing, or children’s literature. This esteemed author shares his experiences, as well as tools, tips, and techniques to help you make your work come off the page and enter the lives of the young people in your intended audience, primarily through powerful verse, using rhythm, concise wordplay, and figurative language. • Alexander is a poet, author of 18 books, and recipient of the 2015 Newbery Medal for his novel, The Crossover. He is founder of two literacy organizations: Book-in-a-Day and LEAP for Ghana. Alexander has owned several publishing companies, written for stage and television (TLC’s “Hip Hop Harry”), recorded a CD, produced jazz and book festivals, hosted a radio show, and taught high school. Photo by Joanna Crowell.

“Children need mirrors and windows: mirrors in which to see themselves and windows through which to see the world.” Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)

Mahogany L. Browne | Poetry | Limbs & Language
This workshop is designed to investigate how our memories inform our poetry. Focusing on imagery and new ways in which we look at the body as a landscape, our dreams as a blueprint and our yesterdays as an almanac, we will generate new writing in an effort to create an urgent dialogue with our limbs and our language.  Browne is the author of six books including Smudge and Dear Twitter: Love Letters Hashed Out On-line, recommended by Small Press Distribution and About.com as one of the Best Poetry Books of 2010. She has released five LPs including the live album Sheroshima. She is the publisher of Penmanship Books, the director of Nuyorican Poets Café Poetry Program, the curator of Friday Night Slam curator and an MFA Candidate for Writing & Activism at Pratt Institute. 

Meg Medina | Fiction | Writing the Hard Truth: Tough Topics for Young Readers
Transgender kindergarteners, civil rights abuses, children surviving genocide, the death of parents, murders, and bullying. All of these topics have appeared in literature for even the youngest reader. Medina discusses our responsibilities as authors of young adult literature in representing the most disturbing of human actions. When is the truth too much? And when is softening the truth nothing more than “selling out”? Is anything taboo? We’ll study excerpts from Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your AssBurn Baby Burn, and The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind, along with selected works from other authors, as we discuss the role of readers’ ages and experiences in shaping our choices as authors.  Medina is an award-winning Cuban American author who writes picture books, middle grade, and YA fiction. She is a two-time recipient of the Pura Belpré medal (2014 and 2016) for her young adult novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass and her children's book Mango, Abuela, and Me. Her other books include The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind, Milagros: Girl From Away, and, in 2016, Burn Baby Burn. Photo by Steve Casanova.

Tony Medina | Poetry | Role Models: Writing About Contemporary and Historical Figures
This workshop is designed to capture the primary voice of an historical or contemporary and pop cultural figure and structure a narrative in a series of poems that bring that character to life. Essentially, you will be guided in the process of myth-making in biography and investigate the known in order to get to the unknown as it pertains to your subject. With a combination of research, prompts, music, and imagination, you will be guided through the process of beginning to tell someone’s story as if it were your own.  Medina has written or edited more than seventeen books of poetry, essays, and children’s literature. His books for young readers, DeShawn Days, Love to Langston, and I and I, Bob Marley, have received Parent’s Guide Children’s Media Award, the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, and the Rhode Island Children’s Book Award. His most recent book for young readers is The President Looks Like Me and Other Poems. He teaches at Howard University.


Note: the following is subject to change. All events are planned to take place at JMU's Festival Conference & Student Center.

Thursday, March 3

4-6pm | Registration & book sale with light refreshments

6:30-9:30pm | Reading & book signing featuring Kwame Alexander, Mahogany Browne, Meg Medina, and Tony Medina (free and open to the public)

Friday, March 4

8-9am | Light refreshments

9-11:45am | Workshops with featured writers

12-2pm | Break

2-3pm | Panel discussion

3:15-4:30pm | Writing workshop with Furious Flower

4:40-6pm | Break

6-8pm | Dinner: buffet style banquet (included in your registration fee)

8-10pm | Poetry jam

Saturday, March 5

8:30-9:30am | Light refreshments

10am-12pm | Closing session


We will offer a light breakfast on Friday and Saturday, and dinner on Friday will also be provided. For all other meals, food will be available for purchase in the Festival building, and Harrisonburg has many restaurants where you can eat downtown.


James Madison University and the Furious Flower Poetry Center are committed to creating events that are accessible to all. If you need an accommodation related to a disability or condition please contact us at least two weeks in advance to ensure that we are able to best meet your needs. You can email or call us: furiousflower at jmu dot edu or 540-568-8883.

Furious Flower Poetry Center at JMU

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