Community Spotlight: Furious Flower Poetry Center

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 11:41 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Words have the power to inspire and uplift, and in this month’s Community Spotlight, we shine the spotlight on a nonprofit who for the last 30 years, has done that for community members of all ages.

The Furious Flower Poetry Center on the campus of JMU has welcomed renowned African American poets like Toni Morrison and others from around the world. Through outreach and programming, the organization hopes to continue the decades’ long legacy and grow a new generation of poets in the Valley.

“It’s not tangential it is existential. It’s about defining who you are it’s about figuring out what your voice is and what you have to say,” Furious Flower Poetry Center Executive Director Lauren Alleyne said.

The Furious Flower Poetry Center has rooted itself in education, after starting as a conference on Black poetry by recently retired JMU professor Dr. Joanne V. Gabin.

“She organized this amazing conference where scholars of Black poetry, black poets, critics, lovers and a lot of Harrisonburg folks too got introduced to this rich American legacy,” Alleyene explained.

It’s a legacy that continued and since then, the nonprofit has established numerous community and in-school programs and seminars for all ages, along with written publications to preserve important history.

“We’re talking about poetry that evolves from folks who weren’t even allowed to read in this country or write in the country at one point,” Alleyene said.

Another goal of the activities and conferences is to inspire those who are interested in poetry or seasoned writers, to create.

“They have this amazing language that has been generated and gifted and that we preserve here to take back to their classrooms take back to their communities,” Alleyne said.

As Alleyne has stepped into her new role as executive director, she says now is as good a time as ever to provide this creative outlet.

“There’s so much turbulence and I think poetry is a place where that turbulence can be held where it can be examined where it can be shared where it can be relieved. And I think that’s what poetry has to offer that’s what Furious Flower has to offer,” Alleyne explained.

In 2024, Furious Flower will host its 4th Annual Poetry Conference to educate attendees about African American poets and poetry and hope to inspire generations to come.

If you’re interested in learning more or how to be involved, you can visit the organization’s website here.

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