Furious Flower at JMU

500 Cardinal Dr. MSC 3802
Harrisonburg, VA 22807-0001

T. (540) 568-8883 | E. furiousflower@jmu.edu

To stay up to date on all our events and programs, subscribe to our email list and follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Need to stop by? Parking at JMU is by by permit only. (If you do not have a JMU parking permit, please request a temporary permit from our office prior to your visit.)

Furious Flower

Joanne V. Gabbin, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Lauren K. Alleyne

Lauren K. Alleyne

Assistant Director


Amisha Anderson

Communications Specialist


Spencer Law

Communications Specialist

2020-21 Furious Flower Advisory Board Members
Malin Pereira - Board Chair

Malin Pereira

Malin Pereira earned a Ph.D. in english from UW-Madison, minoring in Afro-American Studies under Nellie McKay and Craig Werner. Professor of English at UNC Charlotte, she served as interim chair of Africana Studies, chair of English, and, since 2012, leads the Honors College. Her books include Rita Dove's Cosmopolitanism (2003), and Into a Light Both Brilliant and Unseen: Conversations with Contemporary Black Poets (2010); her published articles focus on contemporary black poetry. Dr. Pereira holds memberships with the Collegium of African American Research (CAAR), the Modern Language Association (MLA), the Society for Multi-Ethnic Studies: Europe and the Americas (MESEA), and the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), for which she co-chaired the Diversity Committee (2017-19).

Jon E. Cawthorne

Jon E. Cawthorne, Ph.D. is Dean of the Wayne State University Library System which includes the University’s School of Information Sciences. He has a Ph.D. in managerial leadership in the information professions from Simmons University and is passionate about changing organizational cultures, increasing Black, Indigenous People of Color into leadership positions in the information and publishing industry. Dean Cawthorne is the current President of the Association of College and Research Libraries. Prior to joining WSULS, Cawthorne served as dean of libraries at West Virginia University. While in Morgantown, Cawthorne met Joanne Gabbin and became a passionate supporter of Furious Flower.

Meta DuEwa Jones

Meta DuEwa Jones is an Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Jones authored The Muse is Music: Jazz Poetry from the Harlem Renaissance to the Spoken Word (University of Illinois, 2011), awarded honorable mention for the MLA William Sanders Scarborough Prize. Jones’ current manuscript, Black Alchemy, is a hybrid genre work of poetry, theory, and memoir that explores collaborations between writers and visual artists as they map memories of and travels within the African diaspora. Jones’ creative scholarship, focused on African American literature and inter-arts, has been published in diverse venues. Jones’ research and writing have been supported by fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University, the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, the Rockefeller, Woodrow Wilson, and Mellon foundations, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Carter G. Woodson Institute.

John Wharton Lowe

John Wharton Lowe​, Barbara Methvin Distinguished Professor at the University of Georgia, has also taught at LSU, the University of Munich, Harvard, Saint Mary’s College, and Columbia. His nine books include Jump at the Sun: Zora Neale Hurston’s Cosmic Comedy, and Calypso Magnolia: The Crosscurrents of Caribbean and Southern Literature, which won the C. Hugh Holman Award and the Sharon L. Dean Award. The recipient of the MELUS Lifetime

Achievement Award, Lowe has been President of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, the Southern American Studies, MELUS, and the Louisiana Folklore Society. He is currently writing the authorized biography of Ernest Gaines.

McKinley E. Melton

McKinley E. Melton​ earned his Ph.D. from the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Prior to joining the Gettysburg College faculty, Dr. Melton was a visiting assistant professor of literature at Hampshire College from 2007-2012. He is also the recipient of a 2015 Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and was a 2015-16 Postdoctoral Fellow at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Emory University. Most recently, Dr. Melton was awarded a 2019-20 Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship by the American Council of Learned Societies, in order to support a year as scholar-in-residence at the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University. 

Patrick M. Oliver


Patrick M. Oliver is a writer, author, publisher, literary and education consultant dedicated to promoting reading and writing as tools of empowerment. Through a variety of innovative projects, Oliver engages children, youth, and audlts in activities such as author talks, vision boarding, book discussions, professional development sessions and community forums. Literary and business development consultant for educational institudations, non-profit organizations, publishers, best-selling and award-winning authors. Formerly senior subcontract administrator in the defense industry (Lost Angeles); director or sales and marketing Third World Press (Chicago) and program director Open Book Program (Chicago). Founder Say it Loud! Readers and Writers a literary arts organization. www.speakloudly.com

Saranna T. Rankin

Saranna T. Rankinis a 1972 graduate of James Madison University and enjoyed a 38-year career in Social Work with both the Department of Social Services and the Community Services Board resourcing some of that communities’ most vulnerable members. My husband, James Rankin Jr. (’71), and I raised three sons who are married and are kind to share their children with us often. I retired from Prince William County in 2010 with a plan to just develop my hobbies and interests. After 6 months of retirement, I chose to volunteer in a local middle school which led to a decision to work part-time with Newman Avenue Associates as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. In this position, I have often encouraged my patients to use their written words as a tool in their healing journey.

Leona Sevick

Leona Sevickearned her doctorate in English Language and Literature at the University of Maryland. She is the 2017 Press 53 Poetry Award Winner for her first full-length book of poems, Lion Brothers. Her recent work appears in Birmingham Poetry Review, Four Way Review, Blackbird, and Spillway. Her work also appears in The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks. Sevick was named a 2019 Walter E. Dakin Fellow for the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and her work has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. She is provost at Bridgewater College in Virginia, where she teaches Asian American literature.

Paul Somers

Paul Somersholds a Master's in English Education and has read and written poetry since childhood. A photographer and filmmaker, Somers organizes Super Gr8 Film Festival with Tim Estep. He is the owner of The Golden Pony restaurant and music venue in Downtown Harrisonburg.

Dana A. Williams

Dana A. Williams​ is a Professor of African American literature and Interim Dean of the Graduate School at Howard University. Prior to serving as Interim Dean, she served as Chair of English at Howard University for nine years. In recent years, she has served as chair of the Executive Committee of the African American Forum of the Modern Languages Association, president of the College Language Association (the oldest and largest professional organization in the US for faculty of color who teach languages and literature), and president of the Association of Departments of English. She currently serves as president of the Toni Morrison Society and as a member of the Executive Council of the MLA. In 2016, she was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as a member of the National Humanities Council. In addition to her work at Howard, she has held faculty positions at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge; Northwestern University, Evanston, IL as a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow; and Duke University, as a faculty fellow of the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute.

Back to Top