Furious Flower Fellowship in Black Global and Diasporic Poetry

This fellowship, supported by a Mellon Foundation grant, is a three-year, 12-month position for a scholar whose research focuses on Black poets and poetry in the Diaspora. This position is slated to start July 1, 2023.


The nation’s first academic center for Black poetry, the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University is committed to ensuring the visibility, inclusion, and critical consideration of Black poets in American letters, as well as in the whole range of educational curricula. Our programming seeks to cultivate an appreciation for poetry among students of all levels—from elementary to graduate school and beyond. In addition, Furious Flower seeks to support and promote Black poets at all stages of their careers and to preserve the history of Black poets for future generations.


Taking our name from lines of a Gwendolyn Brooks poem, Furious Flower is an academic center that began as a conference held in 1994 entitled “Furious Flower: A Revolution in African American Poetry.” The first major conference on African American poetry since the 1970s, this event was envisioned and organized by distinguished scholar and professor, Dr. Joanne Gabbin, to honor Brooks and her literary legacy. More than 30 presenters discussed the genre with an audience of hundreds of writers, scholars, and poetry enthusiasts. The conference garnered national attention, and The Washington Post called it a “historic gathering.” After a second successful conference in 2004, Furious Flower was chartered in 2005 as an academic center at JMU in 2005, and acquired a dedicated facility and staff. Since then, it has continued to grow, developing and presenting valuable programming and resources. The third Furious Flower Poetry Conference was held in 2014, and the fourth decennial conference will be held in 2024.


The College of Arts and Letters, which houses the Furious Flower Poetry Center, enrolls over 3400 undergraduate majors and about 150 graduate students across ten academic units in the humanities, social sciences, and communication studies. Home to several interdisciplinary centers and institutes, the College employs 270 full-time faculty. It is a university leader in student and faculty diversity and belonging and has made significant faculty investments in racial and social justice, Latinx studies, and African-American studies. It embraces the teacher-scholar model, supporting excellent teaching, innovative service, and strong programs of research and creative inquiry across the disciplines. The College provides rich opportunities for faculty to collaborate across the College and the entire university. The hiring for this position aligns with the College of Arts and Letters’ commitment to diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism.


James Madison University is a selective public R2/National University in Harrisonburg, VA, with a growing national reputation for offering experiences that lead to an outstanding education and inclusive environment for the JMU community. The student body comprises approximately 20,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students with over 1,000 full-time instructional faculty. JMU offers thriving programs in liberal arts, science and technology, and professional disciplines at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels.

Harrisonburg is the 12th largest city in Virginia; nicknamed “the Friendly City,” it is in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, located in the western part of the state and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. The region is best known for its natural beauty and many wineries. The city is approximately 120 miles from Washington, DC, and Richmond, VA, with a population of just over 53,000. It is one of the most diverse communities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As a university town, the Harrisonburg community enjoys all the arts and amenities of a big city combined with the ease, recreation, and charm of a small town.


Duties and Responsibilities

Currently under the direction of recently appointed Executive Director, Lauren K. Alleyne, the Furious Flower Poetry Center is seeking to extend its programming, impact, and resources beyond US borders. The successful candidate in this position will contribute to this goal by:

  • Maintaining an active research agenda
  • Engaging in outreach and facilitating meaningful relationships with individuals and organizations related to Black, global and diasporic poetry
  • Assisting the Executive and Assistant Director in the planning and execution of the 2024 Furious Flower Poetry Conference, particularly related to inclusion of global voices
  • Working with Furious Flower Executive and Assistant Director in post-conference publishing and production activities
  • Establishing relationships and programming with local Harrisonburg refugee and immigrant non-profits and communities
  • Serving as an ex-officio member of the Furious Flower Advisory Board


In addition to working on their own research and supporting the mission of the center, the fellow will have the opportunity to:

  • Teach one course per semester in Global/Diaspora studies, Global Black Poetry, and/or Introduction to Africana Studies
  • Deliver a public talk on their scholarship during the term of their appointment


Required Qualifications

  • PhD in Poetry/Poetics/Creative Writing/English/Comparative Literature / Africana Studies or closely related field (Advanced PhD candidates will also be considered)
  • Active research agenda in Global/Diaspora poetry
  • The fellow is expected to be in residence in Harrisonburg, VA for the duration of the fellowship and to participate in the intellectual and cultural life of the university and center.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Demonstrated success in building networks and community
  • Experience with conference planning / project management
  • Interest in publishing and/or program development


To learn more and to apply, go to joblink.jmu.edu and reference posting F2061 or go to https://joblink.jmu.edu/postings/13492. Review of applications begins 1/23/2023. Salary is a maximum starting rate of $65,000.


James Madison University is committed to creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive work and educational community that is free of all forms of discrimination. This institution does not tolerate discrimination or harassment on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic information, national origin, parental status, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status We promote access, inclusion and diversity for all students, faculty, staff, constituents and programs, believing that these qualities are foundational components of an outstanding education in keeping with our mission. The university is interested in candidates whose experience and qualifications support an ongoing commitment to this core quality Anyone having questions concerning discrimination should contact the Office for Equal Opportunity: (540) 568-6991.




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