A professor of English at James Madison University, Joanne V. Gabbin was the director of the JMU Honors Program when she hosted the premier Furious Flower Poetry Conference in 1994, which was the first academic conference on Black poetry. She continued to invite Black poets and other scholars to the JMU campus under the auspices of the Honors Program (calling these guest lectures and readings Furious Flower events), and in 2005, after the grand success of another major Furious Flower Poetry Conference in 2004, JMU formally established the Furious Flower Poetry Center, the first and at the time only academic center devoted to Black poetry. Dr. Gabbin left her beloved position with the Honors Program to become executive director of the new center. Since then, Gabbin has served as a visionary leader, building key relationships with scholars, poets, and corporate partners, as well as conceiving, overseeing, and fundraising for special projects and events.

She is the author of Sterling A. Brown: Building the Black Aesthetic Tradition, editor of Furious Flower: African American Poetry From the Black Arts Movement to the Present and The Furious Flowering of African American Poetry, and executive producer of the Furious Flower video and DVD series. She is also founder and organizer of the Wintergreen Women Writers’ Collective, owner of the 150 Franklin Street Gallery in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and author of the children’s book, I Bet She Called Me Sugar Plum.

A dedicated teacher and scholar, Dr. Gabbin has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching and scholarship. Among them are the College Language Association Creative Scholarship Award for her book Sterling A. Brown (1986), the James Madison University Faculty Women’s Caucus and Women’s Resource Network for Scholarship (1988), and the Outstanding Faculty Award, Virginia State Council of Higher Education. Recently, Dr. Gabbin was the recipient of two faculty awards: the Provost’s Award for Distinguished Service and the JMU Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award. In the fall of 2016, the JMU Office of Sponsored Programs recognized her success with external funders with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

In October 2005, Dr. Gabbin was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent.

Courses Taught

ENG 260 Survey of African American Literature

ENG 360 Major Black Writers

ENG 361 African American Fiction Writers

ENG 362 African American Poets

ENG 410 African American Literary Texts

ENG 412J Life Writing: Lives of Contemporary African American Writers

ENG 672 Studies in African American Literature

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