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.)

Faculty & Staff
Lauren K. Alleyne

Lauren K. Alleyne

Executive Director


Gbenga Adesina

Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Black Global & Diasporic Poetry


Megan N. Medeiros

Communications & Marketing Specialist


Megan McCann

Administrative Assistant


Sam Wilber

Graduate Assistant


Taylor Nauflett

Gillespie Fellow


India Williams

Gillespie Fellow

2022-23 Furious Flower Advisory Board Members
McKinley E. Melton - Board Chair

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. 

Keisha-Gaye Anderson

Keisha-Gaye Anderson is a Jamaican-born poet, writer, visual artist, and media strategist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her debut poetry collection Gathering the Waters (Jamii Publishing 2014) was accepted into the Poets House Library and the National Library of Jamaica. Her other poetry collections include Everything Is Necessary (Willow Books 2019) and A Spell for Living (Agape 2020), which received the Editors’ Choice recognition for the Numinous Orisons, Luminous Origin Literary Award, and is botha print and multimedia e-book, including music and Keisha’s original artwork. Keisha’s poetry, fiction, and essays have been widely published in national literary journals, magazines, and anthologies that include Kweli Literary Journal, Small Axe Salon, Renaissance Noire, The Caribbean Writer, The Killens Review of Arts and Letters, Mosaic Literary Magazine, African Voices Magazine, The Langston Hughes Review, Caribbean in Transit Arts Journal, The Mom Egg ReviewPeregrine Journal, and others. Keisha is a past participant of the VONA Voices and Callaloo writing workshops, a former fellow of the North Country Institute for Writers of Color, and was short-listed for the Small Axe Literary Competition. In 2018, Keisha was selected as a Brooklyn Public Library Artist in Residence. In 2021, she was presented with the Poetic Icon award from her alma mater Syracuse University. Keisha's visual art has been featured in exhibitions across the country and in such literary journals as The Adirondack Review, Joint Literary Magazine, and No, Dear Magazine. Keisha began her career as a journalist, having written for national consumer magazines like Psychology Today, Teen People, Black Enterprise, and Honey, and working as a producer or associate producer on documentary programming for networks like CBS, PBS, and NHK (Japanese television). She currently works as a senior director of marketing and communications at a NY-based non-profit focused on young adult mental health. Keisha regularly leads writing workshops for non-profits and other organizations, and has taught as an adjunct within The City University of New York (CUNY) for 15 years. She is a graduate of the Syracuse University Newhouse School and College of Arts and Sciences and holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from The City College, CUNY. Learn more about her work at www.keishagaye.ink.

Shawn Bediako

Shawn M. Bediako is a Senior Science Education Fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), where he supports inclusive and equity-centered initiatives aimed at transforming science education in American colleges and universities. Prior to joining HHMI, Dr. Bediako was Director of the Office of Education for the Division of Intramural Research at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. For nearly two decades, he served in several administrative and leadership roles as a faculty member at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he was the first person of African descent to both earn tenure and be promoted to the rank of full professor in the Department of Psychology. Dr. Bediako is an expert on sickle cell disease stigma and has conducted groundbreaking research at the intersections of race, science, and medicine. He is also an accomplished brass multi-instrumentalist and emcee who has collaborated with a diverse range of musicians and artists from around the world. Dr. Bediako completed a bachelor's degree in psychology at the University of Central Arkansas and earned a master's degree in community psychology from Florida A&M University. His doctorate in social/health psychology was conferred at Stony Brook University and he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in health psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before graduating with a master’s in public administration from the University of Baltimore.

Jon E. Cawthorne

Jon E. Cawthorne​, Ph.D. is a Librarian at Wayne State University Library System.  Between August 2017 and June 2023, Jon served as Dean of the University’s School of Information Sciences and Libraries. He has a Ph.D. in managerial leadership in the information professions from Simmons University. He is passionate about changing organizational cultures, increasing the number of Black and Indigenous People of Color in leadership positions in the information and publishing industries, and serving on Wiki Education and the Critical Race Theory Collective Boards. Cawthorne was the President of the Association of College and Research Libraries from 2020 to 21.  Before 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.

Susan Facknitz

Susan Facknitz’s poetry attempts to trace the connections between historical violence and personal trauma. Her poems have appeared in journals in the U.S., Canada and Ireland, including Southword, Room, Poetry East, and New Orleans Review. She taught Creative Writing and Irish Literature courses at James Madison University for thirty years and now leads a writers’ group at Our Community Place and teaches at Blue Ridge Community College.

Tsitsi Jaji

Tsitsi Jaji is a poet, parent, scholar, and teacher. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, she moved to the U.S. thirty years ago to study classical piano and literature. She is the author of two volumes of poetry, Mother Tongues (winner of the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Prize) and Beating the Graves, as well as a chapbook, Carnaval (2014) included in the first box-set of New Generation African Poetry series. She has adjudicated several awards, most recently, the Evaristo Prize for the African Poetry Book Fund. Jaji is also author of a scholarly book, Africa in Stereo: Music, Modernism and Pan-African Solidarity. She holds the Helen L. Bevington chair in Modern Poetry at Duke University, where she is an associate professor of English and African & African American Studies. She is also a senior research associate at Rhodes University in South Africa. But in the end, parenting is the hardest, most joyous part of her lifework.

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.

Nate Marshall

Nate Marshall is a writer, editor, and educator from Chicago. He is the author of two full-length books of poems, Finna and Wild Hundreds. He is an editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. He is also the author of the audio drama Bruh Rabbit & The Fantastic Telling of Remington Ellis, Esq. and co-author (with Eve L. Ewing) of the play No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. Marshall is an assistant professor in the creative writing program at The University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work has been published in Chicago Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere.

Shauna Morgan

Dr. Shauna M. Morgan is a poet-scholar and Associate Professor of creative writing and Africana literature at the University of Kentucky where she also serves as Director of Equity and Inclusion Initiatives in the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT). Before joining the University of Kentucky, Morgan was tenured on the faculty of English at Howard University where she taught from 2012-2019. Both her scholarly work and her poetry are deeply engaged with traditions of global Black art and culture. Her critical work has been published in Journal of Postcolonial Writing, South Atlantic ReviewBulletin of the School of Oriental and African StudiesCollege Language Association Journal, and elsewhere. Her poetry has appeared in A Gathering Together, Interviewing the CaribbeanA Literary Field Guide to Southern AppalachiaProudFlesh: New Afrikan Journal of Culture, Politics & Consciousness, among other periodicals and anthologies. Morgan’s chapbook, Fear of Dogs & Other Animals, was published by Central Square Press. She is currently at work on “The Life Thing in Us: Decoloniality and the Aesthetics of Liberation in Contemporary Black Poetry,” a book that explores the twenty-first-century poetry of the Black diaspora and investigates the ways in which the poets and their works move along a continuum of decoloniality in the ongoing struggle for global Black liberation. Her current creative project, “Ordinal,” is a poetry manuscript which re-imagines the Victorian-era Anglican book of prayer as a collection of Black women’s syncretistic laments, praises, and songs that attempt to excise traumas and liberate sexualities. Morgan was awarded Interviewing the Caribbean’s inaugural Catherine James Palmer Poetry Prize, and she was a fellow at the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg Universität in Mainz, Germany. She tends to a hopeful garden at her home at the Artists’ Village in the historic East End of Lexington, Kentucky.

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

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).

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.

Karyn Sproles

Karyn Sproles is Dean of Faculty Development at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD (2015-present). A native of Virginia, Sproles earned her Ph.D. in English (1987) from the University of Buffalo and her BA in Literature from The American University (1982). She chaired the English Departments at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN and James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. She founded the Center for Academic Creativity at the University of Southern Indiana. She was Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Carlow University in Pittsburgh and Provost at Marietta College in Ohio. She has published extensively on pedagogy and faculty development as well as in the field of British Modernism and critical theory, including Desiring Women: The Partnership of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West (Toronto UP 2006) and Reflective Reading and the Power of Narrative: Producing the Reader (Routledge 2019)—now available open access. Her latest book is Thriving: 9 Guiding Principles for Women in Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press 2023) and she is currently working on a sequel, 9 Guiding Principles for Sustaining and Academic Career. The award she is most proud of is “The Madison Best Award” for leadership in minority faculty recruitment.

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