We at The Furious Flower Poetry Center are saddened and outraged by the senseless loss of the lives of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and hundreds of other Black people killed each year as a result of police violence and systemic racism. We have always believed Black lives matter. When Dr. Gabbin discovered that Gwendolyn Brooks had been denied a job for which she was eminently qualified and committed to bringing Brooks to every campus she taught at, it was because she understood Black livelihoods matter. The gathering space, the conference-turned-center of Furious Flower, brings Black poets into community with each other with the conviction that Black poets matter. The publications we’ve produced over the years are testimony to the richness, complexity, diversity and brilliance of Black literary work: Black poetry matters. Our programs to educate educators about how to contextualize and teach the work of Black poets, and how to subvert the status quo of curricula at all levels, insist that Black voices matter. We know that Black poetry is a repository of Black history, Black persistence, and Black resistance, and so we work to preserve it because Black legacy matters. In this crucial moment in American history, as “the time / cracks into furious flower,” and the fight for the value and dignity of Black lives is waged in the halls of power and on the streets, we at Furious Flower will continue our mission of supporting and amplifying the essential voices of Black poets, “the last of the loud,” as they bear witness to Black lives.

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