Toi Derricotte calls her “the soul of Furious Flower.” Jericho Brown considers her “a bone in the vertebrae of life.” Evie Shockley professes a “great awe” of what she has accomplished in her 37 years at James Madison University. And this summer, beloved teacher and scholar Joanne V. Gabbin will retire. A professor of English at JMU since 1985, Dr. Gabbin has served as Furious Flower’s visionary leader since it all began with a historic first conference in 1994, which she presented while she was director of the JMU Honors program. The success of that event and Dr. Gabbin’s tireless dedication led to the formal charter of the Furious Flower Poetry Center at JMU, the nation’s first academic center devoted to Black poetry.
In 2021, Furious Flower named the Carmen R. Gillespie Fellowship after one of Dr. Gabbin’s former students. Please make your gift of any amount to this fund, and you’ll be supporting students studying Black literature and culture and honoring an icon as she reaches a new milestone in her professional life.
Watch the video to see Latorial Faison, a poet and instructor of English at Virginia State University, tell the story of how she came to receive a special item that connects her to Furious Flower and, more especially, to Dr. Gabbin and the late Dr. Gillespie (1965-2019). And then we hope you’ll join us on this Giving Day to honor Dr. Gabbin in the most “Joanne” way we know how: with generosity and in tribute to someone you love.
Furious Flower Poetry Center
Provide general support for the nation's first academic center for Black poetry. Preserve the power of the American literary experience by supporting the study of poetry and encouraging new talent.