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Furious Flower Poetry Center

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Seeding the Future of African American Poetry

The Furious Flower Poetry Center presents a third decade-defining conference, September 24–27, 2014, at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

The three-day event features readings by many of the best established and emerging African American poets writing today, and all of these readings are free and open to the public. Dedicated to Rita Dove, the 2014 conference recognizes the achievements of literary trailblazers Toi Derricotte, Michael Harper, Yusef Komunyakaa, Marilyn Nelson, Ishmael Reed, and Quincy Troupe with Lifetime Achievement Awards. To attend the awards banquet, concerts, and all of the conference events, please reserve your place now.

Register for the 2014 Furious Flower Poetry Conference
“I was invited to attend the first Furious Flower conference ...
and I had to convince the dean to give me funding to travel there.
The conference was worth every penny she gave me, and every word I’ve written since then.”
 
Natasha Trethewey in a March 2014 article published by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities 
 

Hotel Rooms

Once you've registered, please book your accommodations ASAP at one of our hotels—be sure to ask for the Furious Flower Conference block to receive the following rates: Sleep Inn & Suites, (540) 433-7100, $77/night for double; Residence Inn Marriott, (540) 437-7426, $119/night for studio king suite; or Hampton Inn-University, (540) 432-1111, $84/night for double, queen or king. Shuttle service will be provided to and from these hotels and the university during the conference.

 

Getting to Harrisonburg, Virginia

The closest local airport is Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD), only 15 minutes’ drive to James Madison University, and Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (CHO) is about an hour away. Other airports within two hours’ drive include Roanoke Regional Airport (ROA)Richmond International Airport (RIC), and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).

Amtrak stations are in Staunton (45 minutes away) and Charlottesville, but check schedules carefully when planning travel, as the trains don’t stop in this area every day. (For a list of car rentals, taxi services, shuttles, and other travel information, please visit the Travel Information page provided by Harrisonburg Tourism.)

Once you’re here, you’ll have transportation to and from the host hotels and around the James Madison University campus, which will be provided by shuttle bus.

 

About the Conference

To receive updates on the conference, as well as notice of significant events, programs, lectures, and readings we offer, please join our email list. We won’t share your contact information and will infrequently send you items of interest.

2014 Furious Flower Conference Poster

At the historic first Furious Flower conference in 1994 and our successful encore in 2004, some 1,300 people packed JMU auditoriums to hear from and learn more about African American poets and poetry. 

We’re looking forward to a successful and lively gathering again in 2014: In addition to scholarly panels, this year’s conference features concerts by the Morgan State University Choir, the JMU Chorale, and renowned saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, as well as the Laureate’s Luncheon and our awards gala. For details and up-to-date information, please consult the daily conference schedule.

The Furious Flower Poetry Conference embraces a range of backgrounds, generations, and creative outlooks while launching new scholarship, critical approaches, and performance strategies.

Together, we explore the significance and development of black poetic expression over the last century, assess the current conversations and controversies in the field, suggest new avenues of inquiry, and examine the impact of African American poetry on poets and scholars around the world, with an emphasis on emerging voices.

Asking “what’s next” for black poetic expression, major conference themes include

The Emerging Writer: How MFA programs, poetry workshops, and literary collectives are making way for emerging voices

The Changing Same: What the changing yet ever-prevalent influence of music and the oral tradition suggests for the future development of black poetry

Honoring the Poetic Voice: How the recognition of poetic genius has changed over the last 50 years

Queer Poetics: The ways in which the voices of black writers challenge cultural mythologies and stereotypes of sexuality and gender

The Black Avant-Garde: How poets have made homes for themselves under the banners of “experimental” writing and of “black” writing while confronting questions about authenticity and allegiance

Hard-won Freedoms: How the gains of the Black Arts Movement created spaces for aesthetic diversity

Gendered Readings: The ways in which the contested terrain of representations of black bodies is shaped by trauma and memory

Diasporic Poetry: How black poetry is crossing, expanding, and challenging borders

 

Furious Flower Poetry Center

The nation’s only center dedicated to African American poetry, Furious Flower has implemented more than 50 visionary programs since its founding by JMU’s professor of English, Dr. Joanne Gabbin, who spearheaded the first Furious Flower conference 20 years ago. These events include tributes, seminars, poetry camps, and performances. Please consult our home page for details on all upcoming programs.