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Welcome to the Fight & the Fiddle

The Fight & the Fiddle is the online literary journal published by the Furious Flower Poetry Center.

We take our name from a Gwendolyn Brooks poem, which appeared in Annie Allen. This book won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize making Brooks the first African American poet to receive that honor.

“First fight. Then fiddle,” begins the poem, a seemingly clear statement of Brooks’ priorities: that the struggle comes before the art, the politics above the poem.

And yet, if the art is secondary, why lavish such beautiful language on descriptions of the music, why urge “Ply the slipping string/With feathery sorcery” and “Devote/The bow to silks and honey.”  For Brooks, master of the sonnet and the rant, beauty and struggle were inextricably combined. In other words, great art and forceful politics are not mutually exclusive.

Since Phyllis Wheatley used the meter of her enslavers to argue for her freedom, African American poets have been penning powerfully innovative verse as part a tradition that prizes both the music and the message. Throughout history, how black poets have positioned themselves with regard to those elements has prompted conversation and controversy.

We chose this name to honor the rich tradition of African American poetry while seeking out new voices that are entering and—changing—the conversation about being an artist at this particular moment in history.

The Fight & the Fiddle will present interviews with poets and artists, feature stories, tributes, videos of readings, new literary works, and highlights from the Furious Flower Poetry Center’s extensive archive of multimedia material related to African American poetry.

We are committed to celebrating a diversity of aesthetics and viewpoints in our pages, and we invite you to join us.

Check back, join our mailing list (, or follow us via Furious Flower’s social media for new content.  

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