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4 video episodes + Gwendolyn Brooks tribute, 510 minutes total, 1998 Executive Producer: Joanne Gabbin, Producer: Judith McCray, Director/Editor: John Hodges, Production Assistance: WPUI, Sponsor: James Madison University An online FACILITATOR GUIDE is available for this title.
"The time cracks into furious flower. Lifts its face all unashamed. And sways in wicked grace." --Gwendolyn Brooks, The Second Sermon on the Warpland
Furious Flower I is nothing less than a video anthology of African American verse during the last half of the 20th century. This invaluable reference work offers intimate portraits of twenty-five leading poets, each reading and discussing their own work. It offers concise introductions to such important contemporary African American writers as U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni and Michael Harper. More than that, Furious Flower I offers viewers hours of pleasure listening to some of the most impassioned and powerful poetry ever written in America.
This series preserves for students, faculty and the general public a landmark conference Furious Flower: A Revolution in African American Poetry 1960-95 celebrating the continuity of Black verse from the Harlem Renaissance through the Black Arts Movement of the '60s to the hip-hop influenced poetry of today. The event was dedicated to Gwendolyn Brooks, an inspiration to Black poets for over fifty years, taking its title from a line in one of her poems. We are pleased to now include a never released tribute to Brooks from the Furious Flower I conference.
Conference organizer and Executive Producer, Dr. Joanne Gabbin, explains why African American poetry is both furious and flowering: "It's a poetry of grace and rage, of identity and struggle, combining beauty and political activism."
The Furious Flower I video anthology furthers the same scholarly agenda as the conference: to place Black poetry squarely in the canon of 20th century American verse. "We're fifty years behind," poet and critic E. Ethelbert Miller warned. "We need to have our work assessed not just as 'protest poetry' but as we would any great literature."
The six hour volume consists of fifteen to twenty minute self-portraits of twenty-six individual poets arranged into four "video volumes" under the rubrics Elders, Warriors, Seers and Initiates. They mix stirring public readings by each writer with informal conversations with fellow poets and critics. They discuss their work in terms of historical continuity and disjuncture, oral and written traditions, Southern versus Northern experiences, but above all, within the rich matrix of African American vernacular culture.
Furious Flower I offers students and the general public an essential compilation of African American poetry at the end of the 20th century offering a unique chance to sample its rich diversity and to meet the men and women behind it. It provides nothing more or less than these poets in their own words revealing the eloquence and commitment of three generations of African Americans verse.
Video Volume One: ELDERS (114 Minutes) Samuel W. Allen with Jerry W. Ward, Jr. Mari Evans with Val Grey Ward Naomi Long Madgett with Eleanor W. Traylor Alvin Aubert with Leonard Moore Pinkie Gordon Lane with Sandra Govan
This video volume introduces readers to the poets who laid the groundwork for today's Black poetry renaissance and mentored many of the younger voices represented in this collection. These writers, many of whom began writing during the '40's provided the wisdom and strong literary voice which brought Black verse to new heights of competence and maturity.
Video Volume Two: WARRIORS (114 Minutes) Amiri Baraka with Askia M. Touré Haki R. Madhubuti with Sonia Sanchez Kalamu ya Salaam with Everett Hoagland Sonia Sanchez with Lorenzo Thomas Eugene Redmond with Jabari Asim Nikki Giovanni with Virginia Fowler
The Black Arts Movement swept through the 1960's as the lieterary arm of the Black liberation movements of those years. It defined a strong Black cultural identity and waged a war for literary self-determination. In this video volume these veterans read from work which stirred a generation and discuss the achievements and unfulfilled hopes of their movement.
Video Volume Three: SEERS (114 Minutes) Rita Dove Toi Derricotte with Opal Moore Dolores Kendrick with Judith Thomas Sherley Anne Williams with Deborah McDowell Gerald Barrax with Joyce Pettis E. Ethelbert Miller with Eugenia Collier Michael S. Harper with Aldon L. Nielsen
Following the Black Arts Movement, the poets who began publishing in the 1970's felt free to broaden the scope of African American poetry. While retaining the same political commitment, they extended their vision into new regions, exploring personal, sometimes taboo subjects and imbuing traditional forms with a contemporary intensity.
Video Volume Four: INITIATES (27 Minutes) Elizabeth Alexander The Dark Room Collective: Thomas Sayers Ellis Kevin Young Sharan Strange Major Jackson Vera Beatty John Keene
This video volume highlights the younger poets who represent the promise and diversity of Black poetry in the 1990s. As they read and discuss their work, we see how themes which emerged in the three previous video volumes are being re-worked and expanded as Black poetry prepared for the 21st century.
Video Extra: GWENDOLYN BROOKs TRIBUTE (27 Minutes)
The year 2017 will be the centennial of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks’ birth. In recognition of her groundbreaking work and legacy, we include this tribute to Brooks. Brooks reads some of her favorite and most powerful poems – in her very distinctive manner and voice. The video also includes remarkable tributes by Sonia Sanchez, Haki Madhubuti, and Dolores Kendrick.
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"Furious Flower offers an invaluable resource for understanding and teaching African American poetry. These conversations and readings do justice to the vitality and creativity of the poets featured and give us an open window into the poetic process among black Americans. . .I recommend Furious Flower without reservation."
Arnold Rampersad, Stanford University
"A vibrant demonstration of contemporary African American poetry at its performance peak. It's a treasure for those who love poetry and those who teach it."
Barbara Christian, University of California, Berkeley
"Without a doubt, the most valuable tool any teacher of African American poetry could envision. . . I can't believe that anyone will ever again teach this work without using these videotapes."
Daryl Cumber Dance, University of Richmond
"A rich anthology, brimming with the sights and sounds of major African American poets. . . You learn much about the poets' sense of vocation, tradition and mission."