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Furious Flower IV: Celebrating the Worlds of Black Poetry

Our flagship event, the Furious Flower Poetry Conference convenes every 10 years for scholars and writers from around the world to explore contemporary trends in Black literature, culture, and thought, and publish a signature volume of poetry, poetics, and criticism to commemorate each conference.

Our next conference will be September 18-21, 2024 at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. For more details on the conference, visit our website: To receive email updates about the conference, please sign up for our mailing list or update your current subscription here: and don't forget to check the box beside "2024 Conference Updates".

About the Conference

The first Furious Flower Poetry Conference was a historic gathering. Convened by Dr. Joanne Gabbin in September 1994 to celebrate the eminent poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the conference brought together Black poets, as well as scholars and lovers of Black poetry. The groundbreaking gathering was among the largest of its kind, drawing more than 30 acclaimed Black poets in conversation and audiences of up to 1,300 people. Attendees packed auditoriums on the campus of James Madison University to hear from Black poets and learn more about Black poetry.  

In 2004, Dr. Gabbin convened a second conference, which was dedicated to Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka. Again, dozens of Black poets and scholars gathered at James Madison’s campus to be in community with each other and to share their work with audiences in the hundreds.  

In 2005, the Furious Flower Poetry Center was chartered at James Madison University, establishing the nation’s first academic center dedicated to Black poetry. Since its founding, the Center has facilitated programming on the local, regional, and national levels, with a commitment to nurture, promote and pass on the rich and ongoing legacy of Black poets. 

With the convening of the third Furious Flower Conference in 2014—this time dedicated to Rita Dove—the decennial nature of this flagship event became firmly established. The conference had also become defined by its focus on the long view of Black poetic traditions.  The decade between each convening allowed the conference to become the venue for discussing and exploring significant canonical developments, critical approaches, and evolutions within Black poetic activity.  

Through open mics, interviews, roundtable scholarly discussions, and, of course, readings by the most renowned names in poetry, the Furious Flower Poetry Conference continues to stage contemporary trends in Black literature, culture, and thought from a range of creative outlooks, as well as provide a platform for new scholarship, critical approaches, and performance strategies. 

Intergenerational, international, and intentional in its focus on the expansiveness of the Black poetic tradition, the 2024 Furious Flower Conference celebrates The Worlds of Black Poetry and is jointly dedicated to the inestimable Elizabeth Alexander and Kwame Dawes. Furious Flower IV will be held at its traditional home at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia on September 18-21, 2024. 


“This is black poetry planet.”
—Nikky Finney at the 2004 Furious Flower Poetry Conference

“I was invited to attend the first Furious Flower conference ... and I had to convince the dean to give me funding to travel there. The conference was worth every penny she gave me, and every word I’ve written since then.”
 Natasha Trethewey in a March 2014 article published by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

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