Karen E. Risch Mott
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Date of Graduation
Master of Education (MEd)
Department of Educational Foundations and Exceptionalities
Besi Brillian Muhonja
Margaret M. Mulrooney
The purpose of this study was to discern the impact, if any, of the Furious Flower Poetry Center, the United States’ first academic center devoted to Black poetry. A qualitative approach centered on semi-structured phenomenological interviews was applied, and four nationally acclaimed poets were recruited for a purposive sample: Jericho Brown, PhD; Toi Derricotte, MA; Tyehimba Jess, MFA; and Evie Shockley, JD, PhD. Emergent themes were identified based on content analysis by hand-coding transcripts; these findings lead to a conclusion that Furious Flower’s impact on the poets has been significant and consistent in three ways: 1) creating a platform for showing and sharing art and experiences, thus asserting and insisting upon both the possibilities and realities of Black poetry, Black poetics, and Black poets; 2) fostering personal and professional networks, as well as a sense of community—connections and counterspaces—which supports and encourages the establishment of other key institutions; and 3) documenting an evolution of Black poetry, providing chronicles and contexts for current and future scholarship. These themes are illustrated in an impact model, and this study offers insight to Furious Flower’s national reach, as well as how it contributes to the credibility and reputation of James Madison University, the predominantly white institution where it has been located since 1994.
Keywords: academic center, Black studies, community, counterspace, poet, predominantly white institution
Risch Mott, Karen E., ""The fact of the Black poet": Four phenomenological interviews with prominent American writers on the impact of the Furious Flower Poetry Center" (2020). Masters Theses, 2020-current. 54.