Interactive Program – Day 1

Thursday September 29, 1994: Welcome to Furious Flower!

This is an interactive version of the original 1994 Furious Flower Poetry Conference program, altered only to account for last-minute changes to the schedule. Although the concurrent sessions and a few other events were not filmed, you can use this program to experience most of the conference as it originally unfolded. You can also access the original program by clicking the button below.

Registration & Book Exhibits

8:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M. (Taylor Hall Lounge)

Continental Breakfast

8:00 A.M. – 8:30 A.M. (Taylor Hall Lounge)

Opening Session

8:30 A.M. – 9:15 A.M. (Grafton-Stovall Theater)

Many of the poets here, in this auditorium, have given voice to the civil rights struggle of the 60s and the 70s, and have continued to cry in the wilderness of America during the 80s and the 90s… Sometimes quietly and sometimes with raucous abandon, they have cultivated their poetry, their terrible and beautiful rage, in the service of human kind.

Dr. Joanne Gabbin


Critics’ Roundtable: African American Poetry and the Vernacular Matrix

9:30 A.M. – 11:30 A.M. (Grafton-Stovall Theater)

African American poetry, perhaps more so than fiction and drama, has lent and continues to lend itself to the thematic and formalistic expression of its matrixing in African American culture, in the vernacular (folk and popular) culture in particular.

Alvin Aubert


Keynote Speech

1:00 P.M. – 1:20 P.M. (Grafton-Stovall Theater)

Gwendolyn Brooks was responsible for my first book being published… She was one of two judges…and she sent me a letter… It said “Dear Michael S. Harper, YOU ARE MY CLEAR WINNER” in capital letters.

Michael S. Harper


Poetry Reading

1:30 P.M. – 2:45 P.M. (Grafton-Stovall Theater)

I think about how history is made, more than what happened, and about a nice woman in a dark house, filled with daughters and candy, something dim and unspoken: expectation.

Elizabeth Alexander


Concurrent Sessions

Rapping the Rhythms: The Blues of Aubert, Dove, Hughes and Tolson

3:00 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. (Taylor Hall, Room 305)

Chair: Carl Phillips, Washington University

Lenard D. Moore, Carolina African American Writers’ Collective, “In the Landscape and the Music: Insight into Alvin Aubert’s Poetry”

Darrell Stover, Johns Hopkins University, “Rita Dove: Boundaries and the Blues”

Mariann Russell, Sacred Heart University, “Hughes and Tolson: Blues People”

The Seers Who Sat In: Poetic Aesthetics in the 1960s

3:00 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. (Taylor Hall – Room 306)

Chair: Hazel Arnett Ervin, Shaw University

B.J. Bolden, University of Illinois, Urbana, “BAM! The Second Black Aesthetic: Haki R. Madhubuti and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s”

Reginald S. Young, Louisiana State University, “Understanding the ‘New Black Poetry’ and Its Bearing on the Literacy of a Generation in Waiting”

Julius Thompson, Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, “Researching and Writing the Literary History of Broadside Press, Detroit, Michigan, 1960-1994: Methods, Techniques and Observations”

Feminine, Fertile and Frank

3:00 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. (Taylor Hall – Room 302)

Chair: Mary Helen Washington, University of Maryland, College Park

Gerri Bates, Howard University, “Silent Screams of the Lifesaver: Abortion and the Maternal Body in the Poetry of the African American Woman”

Ikenna Dieke, Hampton University, “Alice Walker and her Earthling Psyche”

Kelly M. Mason “Madness and Magic in the Poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks”

Clarion Calls in the Americans

3:00 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. (Taylor Hall – Room 402)

Chair: Deborah McDowell, University of Virginia

Eugenia Collier, Morgan State University, “Message to the Generations: The Mythic Hero in Sterling Brown’s Poetry”

Mark A. Sanders, Emory University, “The Ballad, The Hero and The Ride: A Reading of Sterling A. Brown’s The Last Ride of Wild Bill

Margaret Bernice Smith Bristow, Hampton University, “Rootlessness and Rootedness: An Analysis of the Rhetoric of Social Revolution Seen in Selected Works of Derek Alton Walcott”

Textures and Techniques

3:00 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. (Taylor Hall – Room 404)

Chair: Opal Moore, Radford University

Chezia Thompson Cager, Maryland Institute, College of Art, “Jean Toomer & Ntozake Shange’s Choreopoems: A Vision Through the Vertical Technique”

Nehassaiu de Gannes, Providence, Rhode Island, “Their Strategic Deployment of Language: Dionne Brand, Marlene Noubese Philip Lillian Allen – Essential Thinker of Technology”

Carmen R. Gillespie, Virginia Commonwealth University, “Talking About a Revolution: The Poets of African American Popular Music”

If Harriet Tubman Had a Muse

3:00 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. (Taylor Hall – Room 400)

Chair: Sandra Govan, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Margaret Ann Reid, Morgan State University, “Johari Armini: The Essence of a Black Woman Poet”

F. Elaine DeLancey, Drexel University, “Sonia Sanchez: ‘Flute of Black Lovers, Organs of Black Sorrow, and Trumpet of Black Warriors”

Regina Jennings, Franklin and Marshall University, “The Influence of Malcolm X on the Poetry of Haki Madhubuti and Sonia Sanchez: Issues of Re(re)naming and Inversion”

Connections and Constructs

3:00 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. (Warren Hall Piedmont Room)

Chair: John R. Keene, University of Virginia

Jon Woodson, Howard University, “Notes Towards a Theory of Voyage: The Construction of Space-Time and Consciousness in the Modernist Long Poem”

Niama Leslie JoAnn Williams, Temple University, “A Nzuri Reading of Alice Walker’s Poetry”

Eric A. Weil, Shaw University, “Personal and Public: Three First-Person Voices in African American Poetry”

Evidence of Things Remembered

3:00 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. (Taylor Hall – Room 309)

Chair: Lonnell E. Johnson, Otterbein College

Gwendoline Lewis Roget, Mellon University, “‘One Moment Please’, Historicizing Racial Affronts/Samuel Allen: Chronicler of the African American Experience”

Maryemma Graham, Northeastern University, “Vision and Memory in the Poetry of Margaret Walker”

Elizabeth J. Swanson, Miami University, “The Richness of Poorness: Language and Deep Structure in Gwendolyn Brooks’ The Lovers of the Poor

Poetry Reading

4:45 P.M. – 6:00 P.M. (Grafton-Stovall Theater)

A little while ago, someone who was interviewing all of us … asked me “how did I get started writing poetry?”… Very often I receive that question. I said “Oh, well Gwendolyn Brooks was my inspiration.”

Pinkie Gordon Lane


Masks of Africa

6:30 P.M. – 7:30 P.M. (Duke Hall)

Poetry Reading

8:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M. (Grafton-Stovall Theater)

It occurred to me one time, that if you ask enough “whys,” you might get wise.

Amiri Baraka