About the Founder
Professor of English at James Madison University, Joanne V. Gabbin was the director of the JMU Honors Program when she hosted the premier Furious Flower Poetry Conference in 1994, one of the first academic conferences on Black poetry. After the conference, Gabbin continued to invite Black poets and scholars to the JMU campus through the Honors Program, calling these guest lectures and readings “Furious Flower” events. In 2005, however, after the success of a second Furious Flower Poetry Conference held one decade after the first, Gabbin and James Madison University formally established the Furious Flower Poetry Center, the first academic center entirely devoted to Black poetry, of which she became executive director. Since the birth of the center, Gabbin has served as a visionary leader, building key relationships with scholars, poets and partners, as well as conceiving, overseeing, and fundraising special projects and events supporting the preservation and perpetuation of Black poetry at large. She is the author of Sterling A. Brown: Building the Black Aesthetic Tradition (1985), which was reissued in 1994 by the University Press of Virginia, and edited both The Furious Flowering of African American Poetry (1999) and Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present (2004). She also wrote a children’s book, I Bet She Called Me Sugar Plum (2004).
Throughout her career, Gabbin has published essays in Wild Women in the Whirlwind, edited by Joanne M. Braxton and Andree Nicola McLaughlin, and Southern Women Writers: The New Generation, edited by Tonette Bond Inge, and has written articles appearing in The Dictionary of Literary Biography, the Zora Neale Hurston Forum, The Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing, the Langston Hughes Journal, Callaloo, The Oxford Companion to African American Literature, and Black Books Bulletin. As director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center, Gabbin has organized a multitude of international conferences for the critical exploration of African American poetry. She is also the founder and organizer of the Wintergreen Women Writers’ Collective. She edited Shaping Memories: Reflections of African American Women Writers (2009) to highlight the life stories of the women in the collective. In 2005, Gabbin was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent.