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Furious Flower

Acts of optimism: Karenne Wood on language, silence, and healing

Karenne Wood (2015)

In this three-part interview with Elizabeth Hoover, Wood discusses the relationship between her scholarship and poetry, the importance of silence in her work and in Native culture, and how she challenges stereotypes.
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Dawn Lundy Martin reads Talking About New Orleans by Jayne Cortez

Dawn Lundy Martin at Furious Flower (2014)

In this video, poet Dawn Lundy Martin reads TALKING ABOUT NEW ORLEANS and describes how the poem captures its audience in an immersive reading experience while contextualizing the disaster.
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Amiri Baraka and Askia Touré on arts and activism
Clips from the Furious Flower archives show a 1994 conversation between the two men and part of a keynote speech Baraka gave in 2004, both filmed at Furious Flower poetry conferences.

Amiri Baraka and Askia Toure (1994)

Yona Harvey does not need a brand
In this interview with Elizabeth Hoover, poet Yona Harvey discusses how she has come to embrace her chaotic life, uses her attraction to polyphonic writing, and finds the power within doubt and uncertainty.

Yona Harvey at JMU (2015)

The Strength of Jayne Cortez
In 2006, Cortez performed at James Madison University with The Firespitters at the invitation of the Furious Flower Poetry Center. While her performance was not recorded, these photos give a sense of what she was like on stage: her voice rang out, but her performances were also democratic; each member of the band was able to shine in solos or contribute to the overall sound with improvisation.

Jayne Cortez (2006)

Live performances: Amiri Baraka reads at Furious Flower in 1994 and 2004
Amiri Baraka performs two poems in his signature musical style, taking political topics head on: I AM (1994) and SOMEBODY BLEW UP AMERICA (2004).

Amiri Baraka: live performance in 1994

On the border: Interview with Nadine Pinede
In this two-part interview with Elizabeth Hoover, Nadine Pinede talks about her poetry, prose, and the influence of Haiti on both.

Nadine Pinede (2014)

A broken epic for the black community: Interview with Dwayne Betts
In this interview with Elizabeth Hoover, R. Dwayne Betts discusses his education as a poet, his stance on form, and the differences between writing nonfiction and poetry.

R. Dwayne Betts reads at JMU in 2015

Revolutionary poetics: Dawn Lundy Martin on experimentation, collaboration, and the university
For Dawn Lundy Martin, poetry, performance, and activism are interrelated and arise from an urgent need to disrupt and dismantle dominant narratives of race, gender, and identity.

Dawn Lundy Martin

Our beautiful, decrepit selves: Interview with Ross Gay
Poet Ross Gay talks with Elizabeth Hoover about how gardening has changed his approach to writing, the importance of the body in his writing, and his advice to young writers.


Special issue to spotlight Jayne Cortez and Amiri Baraka
In our special issue devoted to Jayne Cortez and Amiri Baraka, we share some of the materials from the Furious Flower archives including rare photos, interviews, and video footage. In addition, we will present essays about and video tributes to both writers.


The Life and Legacy of Amiri Baraka
From arrests at demonstrations to calls for him to resign as poet laureate of New Jersey, the life and career of Amiri Baraka were often controversial.

Amiri Baraka reading at 1994 Furious Flower Poetry Conference (photo by C. B. Claiborne)

Nadine Pinede Reads Amiri Baraka
Writer Nadine Pinede reads KENYATTA LISTENING TO MOZART by Amiri Baraka, and talks about how it engages with and subverts categories.

Nadine Pinede (2014)

Creativity in Bloom Among Community Children
At the beginning of August 2015, JMU's Furious Flower Poetry Center provided workshops to 77 children. Nearly 40% of them attended at no cost to their families. This demonstrates a continuing commitment to the original mission of the camp: to offer an integrated arts experience that excludes no one and to bring literature, visual art, dance, and music together for a week-long celebration of creativity in all its forms.


Improvising and Experimenting: An Interview with Jayne Cortez
In this 2006 interview with Dr. Joanne Gabbin, Cortez describes how improvisation arises from the pairing of music and poetry, reflects on the impact of visual arts upon her writing, insists that the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s continues as long as we keep moving, and offers her advice to younger poets.

Jayne Cortez (2006)

Pushed and Pulled: Controversial Poet Visits JMU Despite Dissent in 2004
In 2004, Furious Flower's decision to honor Amiri Baraka created controversy despite his high profile as one of the most widely published African American writers.

Montpelier: Amiri Baraka cover

Sterling Brown's Border Crossings
In honor of Sterling Brown's birthday (May 1, 1901), The Fight & the Fiddle offers this excerpt from Dr. Joanne Gabbin's paper on Brown, presented at CLA's annual conference in April 2015.


Comprehensive Humanity: Kyle Dargan on Loss, Learning, and Language
In this three-part interview conducted by The Fight & the Fiddle editor Elizabeth Hoover, Kyle Dargan discusses limits to poetry's political efficacy, hip-hop's influence on him, and how his poetry has changed as he enters his thirties.

Kyle Dargan (2013)

Furious Flower presents 3 poets in fall readings
Reginald Dwayne Betts (Sept. 17), Karenne Wood (Oct. 6), and Yona Harvey (Nov. 5) visit Furious Flower this fall to read at JMU.


Furious Flower Poetry Center calls for papers
Preparing for its much-anticipated conference in the fall of 2014, JMU's Furious Flower calls for papers on African American and black diasporic poetry and criticism.


Poets, Photographers, and Poet-Photographers (Part Two)
Erica Cavanagh, professor of English at JMU, first photographed the Furious Flower poets in 1994 when she was a student reporter for the school's newspaper.

Cornelius Eady (2014)

"What I know about writing:" Camille Dungy on the hard work of transformation
Poet and professor Camille Dungy talks about how her processes as a writer and editor are invested in transformation.

Camille Dungy, 2013

"Humor, pathos, and a bit of discomfort:" Holly Bass on performance, poetry, and activism
Furious Flower Poetry Center's assistant director, Elizabeth Hoover, interviews poet and performer Holly Bass, who presented her work at the Forbes Center in Harrisonburg, Va. April 16, 2013.

Holly Bass (2013)

Poets, Photographers, and Poet-Photographers
C. B. Claiborne has photographed some of America's finest writers as they performed and participated at the Furious Flower Poetry Conferences at James Madison University.

Meta DuEwa Jones, Douglas Kearney, Mendi Lewis Obadike (2014)

Furious Flower presents 3 poets in spring readings
Kamilah Aisha Moon (Feb. 9), Rachel Eliza Griffiths (Mar. 19), and Ross Gay (Apr. 1) visit Furious Flower this spring to read at JMU.


Poets demonstrate and reflect: Black Lives Matter
Our poets continue to model humanity, expose the inanities of social injustice, and prod us to rise up against evil.


Seeking Komunyakaa
Senior Austin Shifflett enters the "cryptic and uncanny world of Yusef Komunyakaa," a poet he found both imposing and inviting at the Furious Flower Poetry Conference (Sept. 24-27, 2014).


Patricia Smith: Golden Wordwoman
Senior Brittany Fisher regards Patricia Smith as a poet who deals with "some of the most controversial and untouchable topics."


In the Company of Poets
Students reflect on the Furious Flower Poetry Conference, including meeting Rita Dove and Jericho Brown


Look back at 1994: The historic first Furious Flower Poetry Conference
In 1994, JMU's Dr. Joanne Gabbin hosted the first Furious Flower Poetry Conference, drawing such literary luminaries as Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, and Rita Dove.