FURIOUS FLOWER III: SEEDING THE FUTURE OF AFRICAN AMERICAN POETRY Furious Flower III: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry (2015) offers the unprecedented opportunity to watch thirty-two of today’s leading African American poets reading from their work and discussing the critical issues shaping this vibrant poetic tradition. Its four video volumes compile close to five hours of highlights from the landmark national poetry summit sponsored once a decade by the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University, the country’s only academic venue devoted to the study of African American poetry. Together with Furious Flower I (1998) and II (2005) - now newly available - this third title constitutes a video anthology of some of the most exciting poetry and perceptive critical insights of the past decade. Any teacher, poet, student or reader who has followed the current flowering of African American verse would want to have attended this seminal event - and now on video they can.
Like Furious Flower I (1998) and II, the 2014 festival focused on four trends shaping African American poetry today: creating a Black aesthetic; poetry as an agent of social change; cross-pollination within the African Diaspora; and directions for future formal innovation. Poets including Elizabeth Alexander, Toi Derricotte, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Marilyn Nelson, Quincy Troupe, Kwame Dawes and Jericho Brown explore these themes in panels and one-on-one dialogues, illustrated by readings from their recent work. This third festival of Black poetry paid special tribute to Rita Dove, the first African American U.S. Poet Laureate, who delivers the keynote address and a reading. It also featured “Honoring the Memory of Amiri Baraka” (1934-2014), a panel remembering and reading his work as an outstanding example of socially engaged poetics. These four video volumes vividly affirm the lines which gave this event and the Center their names:
“The time cracks into furious flower. Lifts its face all unashamed. And sways in wicked grace. Gwendolyn Brooks, “Second Sermon on the Warpland”
Video Volume One: Cultivating Form, Creating the Black Aesthetic, 58 minutes
The seven poets in this opening volume discuss and demonstrate the formal and stylistic characteristics of an evolving Black aesthetic, both in their own poetry and their peers’. It features a special panel on the teaching of African American poetry and mentoring younger poets, as well as Rita Dove’s keynote address.
Rita Dove Elizabeth Alexander Patricia Smith A. Van Jordan Aracelis Girmay Marilyn Nelson Toi Derricotte
Video Volume Two: Cultivating a Poetry of Social Change, Resistance and Truth-Telling, 84 minutes
This volume recalls the key role played by poets as architects of the Black Arts Movement, their contribution to the African American Freedom Struggle and adaptation to the political changes of the past half-century. It features a panel: “S.O.S Calling All Black People: Honoring the Memory of Amiri Baraka.” Readings by the ten poets below reveal how African American poetry acts both as an historical witness and advocate for racial justice.
John Bracey, Jr. Tony Medina Haki Madhubuti Quincy Troupe Ishmael Reed Evie Shockley jessica Care more Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie Camille Dungy Nikki Giovanni Sonia Sanchez
Video Volume Three: Pollinating and Dispersing - Black Poetry Collectives and the Diaspora, 76 minutes
This grouping looks at the centripetal and centrifugal forces shaping Black poetry today, both collective practices and growing ties with the poets and poetry of the world-wide African Diaspora. These eight poets speak to the underlying unity of these two tendencies – a poetry deeply rooted in the history of its people.
Thomas Sayers Ellis Patricia Smith Frank X Walker Afaa Michael Weaver Brenda Marie Osbey Kwame Dawes Samantha Thornhill Lorna Goodison
Video Volume Four: The Flowering of African American Poetry Today, 63 minutes
The conference’s final thematic focus was the role of formal innovation in defining and developing a Black aesthetics for the future. These seven poets explore directions which are “pushing the envelope” of African American poetic expression.
Tyehimba Jess Major Jackson Evie Shockley Jericho Brown Mendi Lewis Obadike Thomas Sayers Ellis Yusef Komunyakaa
Furious Flower III, in four video volumes, 282 minutes, 2015. 3-year Site/Local Streaming License.(plus emailed file) Producer: Furious Flower Poetry Center, James Madison University. Executive Producer: Joanne V. Gabbin; Producer: Judith McCray, Editor: John Hodges.
Furious Flower I, II and III: The Complete Edition, eleven video volumes, 821 minutes, 3-year Site/Local Streaming License (plus emailed file) Produced by: Furious Flower Poetry Center, James Madison University, Executive Producer: Joanne V. Gabbin, Producer: Judith McCray, Editor: John Hodges 1998, 2005, 2015
“Furious Flower is a prayer and these Voices are the sermon, the song, the hope that our work has been good work. We do not ask for salvation with this collection, just that we be heard.”
Nikki Giovanni, Virginia Tech
“Furious Flower is a manifestation of the vision, creative genius and love that have nourished American poetry for more than four decades.”
Toi Derricotte, Cave Canem
“Furious Flower III is a must for those who want to hear about the current state and future trends in Black poetry. These writers and scholars should become familiar voices and faces to us all.”
Brenda M. Greene, City University of New York
“These videos consist of African American poets navigating our history, songs and the rivers of sound. They unpeel Black genius ready to give testimony … And yes, they are beautiful and furious!
E. Ethelbert Miller, Poet Lore
“Invaluable resources which can energize discussions of major issues in poetic theory and practice … bid us to consider how aesthetics evolve, how ideas germinate and take root, how collective environments enable development and how innovation insures the life of a genre.”
Jerry W. Ward, Central China Normal University
“Lyrical buds, samplings and poetrees - along with students, teachers and critics - will bask in the bardic glow, joy and challenge of the Third Furious Flower Conference. Today’s furiously flowering poets and panelists are jazz-laced, Motown-bound, blues-and hiphop-grounded; depth charged as reggae, fun - and funk-filled readers – and “reeders””; and liberators of selves, motherlands and diasporas.”
Eugene B. Redmon, Poet Laureate of East St. Louis (IL)