2023 Flowerings Annual Report Highlights

Activities supported by Flowerings Phase II grant spanned multiple goals in 2023: recruitment, staff development, archival and preservation work, instructional engagement, conference activities, and programming, events, and communications.

Recruitment and Staff Development

The intensity of Flowerings Phase II’s second year began with the recruitment and onboarding of three grant-funded, full-time faculty:

  • Layne Carpenter, Digital Archivist, Libraries
  • David Black, Digital Preservation Specialist, Libraries
  • Gbenga Adesina, Post-doctoral Fellow in Black Global and Diasporic Poetry, Furious Flower

These colleagues joined Megan Medeiros, Furious Flower’s Communications Specialist (a position also funded by the grant) as well as Caitlin Birch, Director of Digital Scholarship and Distinctive Collections, and N’Kosi Oates, Instruction Librarian and Curator for Black Arts and Culture (tenure-track positions funded by JMU) in support of Flowerings-related work. Read more about these positions and their relationships in this news article.

Left to right: Gbenga Adesina, Layne Carpenter, N’Kosi Oates, PhD, David Black, Caitlin Birch, and Megan Medeiros.

New faculty and existing project staff enjoyed support for travel to events and conferences such as Best Practices for the Future of Digital Preservation, iPRES 2023, Digital Library Federation Forum and NDSA Digital Preservation conference, the Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting, BOCAS Literary Festival, and the Phyllis Wheatley Poetry Festival.

Furious Flower Collections: Archival and Preservation Processing

Thanks to the groundwork laid in 2022, faculty were able to quickly begin using archival and preservation workflows​ using the integration suite of ArchivesSpace, Aviary, and Preservica. By the end of the year, all 44 tapes from the 1994 Conference sessions were fully described in ArchivesSpace and 43 were uploaded to Aviary. In preparation for future public launch, team members are working with Aviary to address behind the scenes syncing issues and to improve the user experience for researchers.

A screenshot of JMU's Aviary implementation showing the Critic's Roundtable: African American Poetry and the Vernacular Matrix, 1994 September 29, with metadata pulled in from ArchivesSpace
A screenshot showing JMU’s Aviary implementation, with metadata from ArchivesSpace

Instructional and Pedagogical Engagement

The Mellon grant’s capacity-creation at the Center has supported innovative programming to attract additional funding. In June 2023, thanks to funding from a Poetry Foundation Equity in Verse grant, Furious Flower Poetry Center convened over 20 K-12, postsecondary, and community educators who created and are helping to distribute a Furious Flower curriculum across the country, using the Libraries-supported Pressbooks platform. Experience a living representation of this project and its timeline, read the press release, or watch project interviews to learn more.

2024 Conference Preparation

In preparation for the 2024 conference, Furious Flower formed a steering committee, announced the call for proposals, and launched a wide-reaching advertising campaign. Conversations among Libraries, Furious Flower, and videographers began to plan for the recording of the 2024 conference and acquisition of recordings by JMU Libraries.

Programming, Events, and Communications

Throughout the year, Furious Flower maintained a full schedule of regular programming including student gatherings, “First Friday” exhibit openings, class visits, poetry readings, and on and off-campus workshops. Excellent attendance was supported by an active and timely schedule of social media, press releases, and advertising.

The FuriousFlower.org prototype digital exhibit was recreated using a stable platform supporting future integration with the Center’s web presence, including the 2024 conference web site. Domain name changes maintained the URL https://furiousflower.org/ and supported a more consistent URL nomenclature.

The Flowerings Framework: A Living Model

Across all this work, Libraries and Furious Flower continued to develop and practice the reparative and integrated model set forth by the Flowerings Framework. This included

  • Collaboration on job descriptions, budget planning, expenditures, Carrier Library renovation planning, and timeline and needs to support the 2024 conference
  • Periodic update meetings with Libraries’ project team and FFPC to demonstrate activities and seek feedback
  • Major recommendations to Libraries’ deans’ council to support infrastructure for digital collections
  • Beginning Libraries’ project team meetings with poetry
  • Ongoing discussions of vocabulary and concepts of importance to poets and archivists
  • Two Libraries folks serve on the FFPC 2024 Conference Steering Committee.
  • Libraries continues to actively collect materials for its circulating collection to support Center programming, and recent hire N’Kosi Oates, Instruction Librarian and Curator for Black Arts and Culture, has begun assessing needs and further building out our Black Arts and Culture holdings in Special Collections.
  • Connections with grant project teams coordinating similar work have continued to find alignment with projects such as AVAnnotate at the University of Texas; the C-CAP TEACH project at UC Irvine, and the Poetry as Activism project at the University of Delaware.

Publications, Press, and Appearances

JMU Press Releases