This is an archive of The Fight & The Fiddle.  The current website is at

Not Your Disney’s Pocahontas: Karenne Wood discusses her optimism about poetry’s ability to add depth to our understanding of history, her approach to lineation, and why she chose to end her book with silence.

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Baraka & Cortez:

Architects of BAM

Special issue spotlights Jayne Cortez and Amiri Baraka

cortez and 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. Read more.

Dip it in the Sauce: My Gratitude for Jayne Cortez

jayne cortez

Musician and scholar Renee M. Kingan remembers her encounters with Jayne Cortez, both in performance and in private social settings. Read more.

Amiri Baraka and Askia Touré on arts and activism

baraka and touré

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. Read more.

Dawn Lundy Martin reads Talking About New Orleans by Jayne Cortez

martin reads

In this video, poet Dawn Lundy Martin reads TALKING ABOUT NEW ORLEANS and describes how the poen captures its audience in an immersive reading experience while contextualizing the disaster. Read more.

Live performances: Amiri Baraka reads at Furious Flower in 1994 and 2004

baraka reads

Amiri Baraka performs two poens in his signature musical style, taking political topics head on: I AM (1994) and SOMEBODY BLEW UP AMERICA (2004). Read more.

The Strength of Jayne Cortez

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. Read more.

The Life and Legacy of Amiri Baraka

Baraka in 1994

From arrests at demonstrations to calls for him to resign as poet laureate of New Jersey, the life and career of Amiri Braka were often controversial. Read more.

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. Read more.

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. Read more.

Pushed and Pulled: Controversial Poet Visits JMU Despite Dissent in 2004

Baraka on cover of Montpelier

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. Read more.


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

In this three-part interview with Elizabeth Hoover, Wood discusses the relationship between her scholarship and poetry, the importance of ... Read more.

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 ... Read more.

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 ... Read more.

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. Read more.

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 ... Read more.

From the Archive

Available online for the first time, this 1994 footage of the late Samuel W. Allen includes him reading his poem "Harriet Tubman" then discussing the reciprocal relationship between the artist and the reader with poet and essayist Jerry Ward, Jr. Read more and see the video.

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