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Jun 5, 2014

Look back at 1994: The historic first Furious Flower Conference

In 1994, JMU’s Dr. Joanne Gabbin hosted the first Furious Flower Poetry Conference, featuring the most accomplished and admired black poets of the day. Here's a taste of what Furious Flower brought to the table:

At 1:40, Amiri Baraka puts blackness into contention.

At 2:11, Dolores Kendrick explains why (and when) poetry is meaningful; Gwendolyn Brooks follows immediately, acclaiming “my people.”

At 3:53, Michael Harper does something marvelous—just watch.

At 6:29, Sonia Sanchez explains how indelible poetry is in personality.

At 6:46, “Fallen Leaves” begins. This tribute memorializes those who attended the first Furious Flower Conference but had passed away by 2004, when the second conference was held.

The third Furious Flower Poetry Conference takes place this fall at James Madison University. For more information, visit

 Video by John Hodges for James Madison University.