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About the Center


Furious Flower Poetry Center

The mission of the Furious Flower Poetry Center is to advance the genre of African American Poetry by providing opportunities for education, research, and publication.

Furious Flower Poetry Center serves as a resource for the campus and local Harrisonburg community.  The Center hosts visiting poets, sponsors poetry workshops for emerging poets, holds an annual poetry camp for children in the community, and produces scholarly texts, videos and DVDs on African American poetry.  Furious Flower has sponsored two decade-defining conferences celebrating the African American poetic tradition.

Established on October 28, 1999, the Center is dedicated to the memory of poet Gwendolyn Brooks.  Dr. Joanne Gabbin directs the Center, which is located on the campus of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Please click on the links to the left to learn more about the Center's current endeavors.  

Furious Flower Poetry Center exists within JMU's Division of Academic Affairs. To learn more, visit their web site at http://www.jmu.edu/acadaffairs/. To find out about the JMU English Department, please visit their web site at http://www.jmu.edu/english/.


2013-2014 Furious Flower Advisory Board Members

Mr. Kai Degner

Ms. Deborah S. Gille (Treasurer)

Dr. Akasha Hull

Ms. Malaika King Albrecht

Dr. John Lowe

Ms. Carolyn Micklem

Ms. Carter Moffett Douglas

Ms. Opal Moore (Vice-Chair)

Ms. Saranna Rankin (Secretary)

Mr. Fritz Rosebrook

Ms. Myra Sklarew

Mr. Merle Wenger (Chair)



Where did the name "Furious Flower" come from?


The time

cracks into furious flower. Lifts its face

all unashamed. And sways in wicked grace.

-Gwendolyn Brooks



Why is there a need for a poetry center that promotes African American poetry?

The essay below by Executive Director Joanne V. Gabbin offers insight into the blossoming of our poetry center.


The time

cracks into furious flower. Lifts its face

all unashamed. And sways in wicked grace.

-Gwendolyn Brooks

African American poetry is the aesthetic chronicle of a race, as Gwendolyn Brooks expresses it, struggling to lift "its face all unashamed" in an alien land. From the earliest attempts of African American poets in the eighteenth century to express lyrically their adjustment to existence in a society that debated their humanity to their intense exploration of their voice in the waning years of a racially charged twentieth century, they have built an aesthetic tradition that affirms them, using a language and literary models adapted to meet their cultural purposes. From the very beginning these poets had a challenging, often agonizing, set of problems: the selection of subject matter, themes, and forms to express their thoughts and feelings; the cultivation of a voice expressive of their racial consciousness; the reception of the desired audience; the support of a publishing and critical infrastructure; the nature of their relationship with other literary traditions; and the identification of the anima and purpose of their literary efforts. In essence, African American poetry is metaphorically the "furious flower" of Gwendolyn Brooks' poem "Second Sermon on the Warpland" (1968), pointing to two significant intertwining developments: one radical and the other aesthetic.

To Read Dr. Joanne V. Gabbin's full essay:  furiousflower/essay