2022 Flowerings Annual Report Highlights

Goal 1: Ensure the preservation and stewardship of Furious Flower’s AV collections

We completed basic digital infrastructure, integrating three separate systems: between Preservica and ArchivesSpace; between ArchivesSpace and Aviary, and between Aviary and Preservica. The team developing archival, preservation, and related workflows considered sustainability and adaptability over time by attending to interoperable standards and to our reparative model of iterative archival description.

A digram of screenshots showing the integration between Preservica, ArchiveSpace, and Aviary.
Simplified diagram showing integrations between ArchivesSpace (top), Preservica (right), and Aviary (bottom).

We successfully recruited Caitlin Birch as the inaugural director of Digital Scholarship and Distinctive Collections (DSDC) (funded by Libraries). This newly configured team includes the grant-funded digital archivist as well as a Libraries’-funded, tenure-track Instruction Librarian / Curator for Black Arts and Culture, both under recruitment. The digital archivist will work with the grant-funded digital preservation specialist, David Black. All recruitment has benefitted from hiring practices revised to increase diversity and retention at JMU, and from continued Libraries’ efforts to infuse the Flowerings model into HR work.

Several other funding streams supported projects of note: the AudiAnnotate pilot project at JMU with Tayna Clement at UT-Austin, funded as a Mellon Foundation sub-award, and a small project to preserve the remaining Black Poets Speak Out videos, funded out of Libraries’ operations.

Goal 2: Provide enhanced discoverability of and global access to FFPC’s audiovisual treasures for teaching, learning, and research

More than 60 JMU instructional faculty, scholars, and creators were invited to an event that explored opportunities to use FFPC materials. 32 people attended. Attendees brainstormed ideas for cultural competency development and for bringing FFPC materials into lifelong learning courses, library instruction classes, graduate seminars, performances, a mobile app, an upper-level history course, and digital humanities spaces.

Libraries’ Special Collections combined two Finding Aids to streamline access to the Furious Flower Poetry Center Records and created many new ArchivesSpace records to reflect the organization, scope, and content of the conference materials. The new ArchiveSpace-Aviary integration allows video thumbnails that provide visual interest and a quick path to the streaming AV as it is added to Aviary (see below figure, or visit the Finding Aid).

Screenshot of Special Collections website with Aviary video thumbnail integration
ArchivesSpace Finding Aid for Tape 1, 1994 September 29, showing video thumbnail link to Aviary.

FFPC and Libraries developed a release form for use at the 2024 conference that meets the needs of poets and scholarly communications practitioners, as well as language to use in our systems for content creators to initiate conversations regarding how their work is presented, and new internal workflows to support timely and community-centered responses across teams.

Goal 3: Support vibrant programmatic activities and planning at the Center

Key milestones included the March hire of Megan Medeiros, Communications Specialist (funded through this grant), and a smooth transition celebrating Dr. Joanne Gabbin’s retirement, the incoming leadership of Executive Director Lauren K. Alleyne, and welcome of the new Assistant Director, L. Renée. Highlights illustrate the Center’s collaborative and interdisciplinary programming:

A group photo from a poetry workshop at JMU with students from the University of Liberia.
September 5, 2022: Visit and poetry workshop with students from the University of Liberia

In 2022 FFPC and its faculty received awards and grants such as the 2022 Rattle Poetry Prize, a $10,000 Poetry Fund Grant from the Academic of American Poets, a donation of $80,000 to FFPC in the name of Dr. Joanne Gabbin, a $10,000 NEA grant to support The Fight and the Fiddle, and a Literary Emergency Fund Award for $15,000.

Goal 4: Further develop and put into practice the new, reparative and integrated model for library support of a living, academic center for the arts

The model permeates all grant goals, but several intentional conversations and activities further illustrate this model in action:

  • Knowledge sharing with FFPC and Libraries’ archival, preservation, and technology staff, “Introduction to the Archival Continuum.” 14 February.
  • AudiAnnotate demonstration with FFPC, Libraries, and AudiAnnotate developers. 9 March.
  • Conversations about the new Carrier Library design renovation and expansion. Spring-Summer.
  • Creating speaker notes and slides for FFPC and Libraries faculty and staff for grant-related presentations. Summer.
  • The Project Coordination Team held about 20 meetings, four of which included FFPC personnel. January, April, June, and October. Project meetings begin with a poetry reading and the Team maintains persistent chat to support asynchronous sharing of poetry and professional readings.
  • Libraries’ financial, HR, and travel support staff continued to work with FFPC staff harmoniously on shared responsibilities, including grant administration.
  • Libraries’ budget provided support throughout the year, including purchases of collections in support of FFPC teaching goals, informal cost-sharing of staff time, some professional development support, and job advertisements for the three remaining grant funded positions.
  • Staying in touch with the wider Libraries organization through updates and presentations (February 3, March 5, April 18, October 18) and bi-weekly or monthly updates to Libraries’ Dean’s Council.
A collage of a whiteboard with many colored sticky notes, and photos of people meeting around a table.
November 8th Visioning and Requirements Gathering Meeting

Goal 5: Creation of a more sustainable and forward-looking web and scholarly publishing infrastructure for Furious Flower

Furious Flower and Libraries held a series of activities to plan these two areas, deciding to disentangle the “Scholarly Publishing” activities from “Web”. We conducted Web visioning and requirements gathering, created an outline of discrete projects, reviewed short-term technical issues with Fight & the Fiddle and FuriousFlower.org, and began two small projects to shore up the latter two sites.

Publications and Press



  • Gabbin, Joanne V., Nowiskie, Bethany, and Lauren K. Alleyne. “JMU Flowerings Project.” Library Advisory Committee, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, 23 Sep 2022, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, and Zoom. Invited presentation. Present were the all the directors of Virginia academic libraries, Library of Virginia director, and legislative liaisons.
  • Gabbin, Joanne V. Presentation at the Virginia Association of Teachers of English, Shrine Mont, Orkney Springs, 6-9 October 2022. Shared the work of Furious Flower’s initiatives to spread knowledge and share joy of African American Poetry.
  • Cancienne, Mary Beth, and Bria LeeAnn Coleman. “Pursuing the Light of African American Poets: Teaching a Reader Response Strategy to Understand Theme and Create a Cento Poem.” 2022 NCTE Annual Convention, 19 November 2022, Anaheim, CA.

Press Releases