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“with love like black, our black”: Building Our Homes

June 19, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

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In “The Sermon on the Warpland,” Gwendolyn Brooks urges readers to “Build now your church,” and to do so “With love like black, our black.” This roundtable features representatives from Cave Canem, Hurston/Wright Foundation, Furious Flower Poetry Center, and Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora in conversation about their collective histories and importance, the challenges they face, and the future of Black literary organizations.

REGISTER HERE. This event is supported by American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and automated closed captioning.

“The Sermon on the Warpland” (Gwendolyn Brooks)

Build now your Church, my brothers, sisters. Build

never with brick or Corten nor with granite.

Build with lithe love. With love like lion-eyes.

with love like morningrise.

with love like black, our black—

luminously indiscreet;

complete; continuous.


Joanne V. Gabbin is the Executive Director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center and Professor of English at James Madison University. She is author of Sterling A. Brown: Building the Black Aesthetic Tradition and a children’s book, I Bet She Called Me Sugar Plum. She is also the editor of The Furious Flowering of African American Poetry, Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present, Mourning Katrina: A Poetic Response to Tragedy, Shaping Memories: Reflections of African American Women Writers, and Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry, with co-editor Lauren K. Alleyne. A dedicated teacher and scholar, she has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and leadership. Among them are the College Language Association Creative Scholarship Award, the James Madison University Faculty Women’s Caucus and Women’s Resource Network Award for Scholarship, the Virginia State Council of Higher Education’s Outstanding Faculty Award, the Provost Award for Excellence, the JMU Distinguished Faculty Award, induction in the International Literary Hall of Fame, the first professorship in the JMU Honors College named in her honor, and the Furious Flower Advisory Board Lifetime Achievement Award. In September 2019, she presided over the 25th Anniversary of Furious Flower in Washington, D.C. hosted by the National Museum of African American History and Culture.


Tyehimba Jess is the author of Leadbelly, winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series, and Olio, which received the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Midland Society Author’s Award in Poetry, and an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Jess, a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team, received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and was a 2004–2005 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. He received the 2016 Lannan Literary Award in Poetry and a 2018 Guggenheim fellowship. Jess is a Distinguished Professor of English at College of Staten Island and Board President of Cave Canem.


June 19, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
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