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 Renewing our CIVIL SOCIETY

Furious Flower Poetry Center

FOR MORE THAN A QUARTER-CENTURY, Furious Flower has presented hundreds of extraordinary opportunities to see and hear living poets perform—and countless ways to study with some of the most impressive writers of our time. It happens right here on our Harrisonburg campus, making JMU a distinctive landmark on the nation’s literary landscape.

Top photo: The first U.S. Youth Poet Laureate and the 2021 Presidential Inauguration poet, Amanda Gorman, performs in 2019 at Furious Flower’s 25th anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C.

Below: Illiana Harris (’22), standing, and Claire Hietanen (’20) interview poet/performer/librettist Douglas Kearney for their class, “Black Studies and Black Spaces.”

Students interview poet/performer/librettist Douglas Kearney for the class, “Black Studies and Black Spaces”

Begun in 1994 with an historic conference at JMU and chartered as the nation’s first academic center devoted to Black poetry in 2005, Furious Flower serves three enduring purposes: celebration, education and preservation. To fulfill those aims, the stellar programming, scholarship and special collections that audiences expect from this organization rely on grants from funders like Virginia Humanities, the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Support from individuals like you has always been incredibly important, too. Now, private donors are especially critical to the center’s continued growth. You can ensure Furious Flower’s success in remaining not only the first but the foremost U.S. academic center devoted to Black poetry.

Artists need patrons like you. They require enthusiastic audiences, passionate advocates and financial backing.

Propel poets and poetry. When you provide Furious Flower with funding for visiting artists, the annual poetry prize, its reading series on campus or the decade-definining conferences that draw writers and scholars from all over the world to JMU, you help recognize and reward emerging and established poets.

Support students and educators. Backing events and other programming so they can be affordable for all, or making more scholarships and fellowships available to ensure greater access, means more chances for more people to engage with Black poets at JMU.

Energize scholars. Expanding the study of Black poetry requires more scholars conducting archival research and digital humanities projects. Encourage this kind of work by underwriting scholars in residence, guest lecturers and collections to be identified (e.g., papers, related artworks) and aquired by Furious Flower for JMU.

avery r. young performs (2019)

Above: Interdisciplinary poet and educator avery r. young performs in honor of Furious Flower in 2019.

Poetry matters. Black poetry matters. This art form, championed by Furious Flower for more than 25 years, is especially essential to the university now. Your support today in this beacon of Black brilliance—one of the cornerstones of diversity and inclusion at JMU—helps to ensure the Furious Flower Poetry Center continues to rise in national and even international prominence. Celebrate the arts and artists. Bring literature to life for audiences everywhere. Preserve a rich legacy. And make JMU an enduring destination for the best of Black poetry.

Below: Poets (left to right) Eugene Redmond, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Sharan Strange, Yusef Komunyakaa, Treasure Shields Redmond, Major Jackson, Joanne Gabbin (Furious Flower’s founder and executive director), Opal Moore and Tony Medina at the 2004 Furious Flower Poetry Conference.

Poets onstage with founder/executive director Joanne Gabbin (third from left) in 2004

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