Seeding the Future of African American Poetry
The Furious Flower Poetry Center presents its 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 also recognizes 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.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014 @ 8:00 a.m.
“This is black poetry planet.”
—Nikky Finney at the 2004 Furious Flower Poetry 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
See our conference schedule, updated regularly as more details become available.
Once you've registered, please book your accommodations ASAP at one of our hotels. The conference happens the same weekend as a football game at JMU, and the crowds come out! Be sure to book early and 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; Hampton Inn-University, (540) 432-1111, $84/night for double, queen or king; or Comfort Inn, (540) 433-6066, $79.90/night (Wed. and Thurs.) and $119/night (Fri. and Sat.) for a room with two double beds. Shuttle service will be provided to and from these hotels and the university during the conference.
Transportation & Parking
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.
Getting around Harrisonburg and JMU: 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 JMU shuttles. 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.
If you decide to use your own car, please consult our parking guide so that you can avoid getting a citation from the JMU campus police.
In addition, for a list of car rentals, taxi services, and other travel information, please visit the Travel Information page provided by Harrisonburg Tourism.
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 Elizabeth Hoover: firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-568-2694.
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.
The Furious Flower Poetry Conference embraces a range of backgrounds, generations, and creative outlooks while launching new scholarship, critical approaches, and performance strategies.
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 and papers, critical roundtables, and readings by prominent poets, this year’s conference features
- art exhibits by Wole Lagunju and Malaika Favorite
- concerts by the Morgan State University Choir, the JMU Chorale, and renowned saxophonist Ravi Coltrane’s Quartet,
- the Laureate’s Luncheon,
- and our awards gala.
For details and up-to-date information, please consult the daily conference schedule.
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.
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.