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12th Annual Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Ceremony

 Honoring excellence in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction by Black writers

Friday, October 25, 2013
Carnegie Library
801 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Hosted by Dolen Perkins-Valdez​

Special Guests Include:

Natasha Trethewey, U.S. Poet Laureate
Wil Haygood, Author of the Article that Inspried the Film "The Butler"
Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitizer-Prize Winning Author of The Warmth of Other Suns
Sonia Sanchez, Reowned Poet, Activist,  Scholar and Teacher
Edward P. Jones, Pulitizer-Prize Winning Author of The Known World 

Visit the website for more information.



Writer, Musician James McBride to Perform on October 2, 2013 at Bridgewater College 


Best-selling author, musician, and screenwriter James McBride will present a lecture and perform in concert with a live gospel choir on Wednesday, October 2, at 7 p.m. in Cole Hall at Bridgewater College.

The program is free and open to the public.

McBride is best known for his memoir The Land of Color, which remained on the New York Times bestseller list for two years. Considered an American classic by many, it is read in schools and universities across the country.

Click here for more information.   




BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez

Sonia Sanchez speaks up for black culture, civil rights, women’s liberation and peace as powerfully today as when she emerged as a seminal figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez is a performance packed documentary about this poet, playwright, teacher, and activist, still going strong.

Visit Attie & Goldwater Productions at www.attiegoldwater.com to learn more about the documentary.



With Good Reason’s show featuring Joanne Gabbin’s salute to Toni Morrison won a first place Gabriel Award this spring in the Arts: Local Release category.  This is the fourth Gabriel Award won by With Good Reason and the second for a show featuring JMU’s Furious Flower Poetry Center.

Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison was born Chloe Wofford in 1931.  She was 39 when she published her first novel about a black girl's painful coming of age in a white society.  The Bluest Eye and many subsequent works have earned Morrison the highest accolades in literature and established her as one of America's leading fiction writers.  Nikki Giovanni (Virginia Tech), Joanne Gabbin (James Madison University), and Maya Angelou paid tribute to Toni Morrison with an extravaganza at Virginia Tech that included nationally renowned writers, singers, and poets on October 16, 2012.




Congratulations to Akasha Hull, a member of the Furious Flower Poetry Center's Advisory Board, for being awarded the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award in the African American category.

Click here to visit Akasha Hull's website.





Each year, APPALACHIAN HERITAGE awards the “Denny Plattner Awards” for the best work appearing in the magazine in three categories: Poetry, Fiction, and Creative non-fiction. Click here to visit the website that explains the award and provides the names of the past winners:

In 2012, the magazine included 43 works of creative non-fiction, including Joanne Gabbin's essay, “Nikki Giovanni: A Collection of Memories.”  Gabbin's essay was chosen as one of three winners in this category.  The overall winner was the late Carl Oglesby for "Catfishing in South Carolina." And the other winner was Sandra Ballard for “Arriving in Keno.”




President Alger presents lifetime achievement award to Toni Morrison


By Meaghan MacDonald (’13)


In one of his first acts as JMU president, Jonathan Alger presented a lifetime achievement award to Toni Morrison with honored guest Maya Angelou as thousands of people crammed into Virginia Tech’s Pamplin Hall trying to sneak a glimpse of these two iconic American writers.

India Arie, Sonia Sanchez, Jericho Brown and Rita Dove were among the other literary and pop greats who presented and performed at the October tribute, billed as Sheer Good Fortune.

Alger’s remarks described Morrison’s and Angelou’s contributions to literature and the significance today of writing and the arts.

Great writing touches the soul and helps us to see and experience the world in new ways,” Alger reflected later.  “This momentous occasion was genuinely moving and profound.  What a wonderful reminder of the power of expression and the timeless role of literature in our society!

The lifetime achievement ceremony was yet another collaboration between Virginia Tech poet Nikki Giovanni and JMU’s Furious Flower Center director, Joanne Gabbin. Angelou also contributed.

Gabbin and Furious Flower are known for large-scale poetry events, the most recent being another collaboration with Giovanni—the “73 Poems for 73 Years” tribute to Lucille Clifton in 2010 after her death. The obvious absence of the guest of honor, however, was something neither Gabbin nor Giovanni could shake off.

We said isn’t it a shame that Lucille Clifton was not here to hear how people read her work and owned her work,” Gabbin says. “Nikki said ‘we should do one for a living writer so she can be in the audience and experience it.

Thus “Sheer Good Fortune” was born, with hopes to bring a voice to the arts around the country.

Gabbin followed up by producing a documentary DVD of Sheer Good Fortune that features some of the speakers and performers from the evening. She also produced a commemorative booklet highlighting Morrison’s work and salutes from her admirers.

The program was one day,” Gabbin says. “Now it will last.” As with Gabbin’s previous work documenting epic poetry events, she hopes Sheer Good Fortune will also be used as curriculum enhancements in K-12 and higher education.

Gabbin now turns toward planning a third epic event in her signature Furious Flower Poetry Conference series. “Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry” will be held September 23-27, 2014, and will be dedicated to Rita Dove. The poetry conference, which occurs every 10 years and draws hundreds of high-fliers, scholars and emerging voices, will focus on the newer generation of African-American poets and how they affect literature today.

JMU is a good place for poetry, which was probably the deciding factor in staging the first conference and it certainly was the reason I did the second one in 2004,” Gabbin says.

She looks forward to Alger’s participation in the 2014 conference, just as former JMU presidents Ronald Carrier and Linwood Rose opened the previous conferences in 1994 and 2004 respectively.




July 14 - August 3, 2013
University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

"Don't Deny My Voice:  Reading and Teaching African American Poetry" is an NEH three-week seminar institute sponsored by the KU Project on the History of Black Writing in conjunction with the Furious Flower Poetry Center.  For more information, click here.




Jayne Cortez, poet, author, activitst, and recording artist, died on December 28, 2012.  She was the author of ten books of poems and performed her poetry to music with her band the Firespitters.  Two of her CDs were "Taking The Blues Back Home" and "Borders of Disorderly Time."  Her poetry resonates with the important issues that challenge us to live lives of vigilance, resistance, and self-reliance.  This is the final stanza of one of her most anthologized poems, "There It Is":

And if we don't resist
if we don't organize and unify and
get the power to control our own lives
Then we will wear
the exaggerated look of captivity
the stylized look of submission
the bizarre look of suicide
the dehumanized look of fear
and the decomposed look of repression
forever and ever and ever
And there it is 


The University of Kansas' Project on the History of Black Writing (HBW) has organized a tribute in memory of Jayne Cortez.



Nikki Giovanni:  Still dreaming of what's next

The author of more than 30 books, winner of an unprecedented eight NAACP Image Awards for literature, and Virginia Tech's Distinguished Professor of English continues to envision new possibilities.

 Read more at http://www.vt.edu/spotlight/achievement/2012-10-22-giovanni/giovanni.html.




Martha Woodroof, of WMRA's The Spark, recently interviewed Dr. Joanne Gabbin about how being a baby boomer, a poet, and a person of color have informed her life.  Click here to listen to the interview.