JMU Libraries and Furious Flower Poetry Center Welcome New Employees

Posted on: January 22, 2024

In 2022, the Mellon Foundation awarded JMU $2 million to secure the digital future of the Furious Flower Poetry Center, the nation’s first academic center devoted to Black poetry, through a partnership with the JMU Libraries. 

Today, we’re thrilled to introduce six new employees in JMU Libraries and the Furious Flower Poetry Center. Four of these positions are financially supported by this generous grant. Two of them represent tenure-track commitments by the Libraries to work that is closely aligned with grant goals. 

The grant-funded work, also known as the “Flowerings Project,” supports Furious Flower’s internationally recognized leadership and provides funding for archival description, digital preservation, and global access to Furious Flower poetry and spoken word performance videos held by JMU Libraries Special Collections. The grant also supports the enhancement of Furious Flower’s web and scholarly publishing infrastructure in partnership with open access and digital scholarship initiatives led by JMU Libraries. These new colleagues bolster ongoing efforts in both units. 

Meet our new team members! 

Left to right: Gbenga Adesina, Layne Carpenter, N’Kosi Oates, PhD, David Black, Caitlin Birch, and Megan Medeiros.
  • Gbenga Adesina is the Mellon post-doctoral fellow in Black global and diasporic poetry in the Furious Flower Poetry Center. In that position, he brings global audience engagement, networks, and perspectives to the center’s programming and is on the steering committee for the 2024 Furious Flower Conference, a decennial event first held in 1994. 
  • Layne Carpenter is a digital archivist on the Libraries’ Special Collections team. Layne arranges and describes the Furious Flower audiovisual archival materials. 
  • N’Kosi Oates, PhD, is the instruction librarian, curator for Black arts and culture, and assistant professor on the Libraries’ Special Collections team. N’Kosi co-manages the instruction program within Special Collections and leads the collection development and acquisitions of Black arts and culture materials.
  • David Black is a digital preservation specialist in the Libraries’ Scholarly Communications Strategies department. David works to ensure long-term preservation, access, and usability for the Furious Flower archival collections. 
  • Caitlin Birch is the director of the Libraries’ Digital Scholarship and Distinctive Collections department, which includes the Special Collections and Digital Projects teams. Caitlin provides collaborative leadership and strategic direction for the department while building fruitful relationships with campus and community partners. 
  • Megan Medeiros is the communications and marketing Specialist in the Furious Flower Poetry Center. Megan monitors and maintains the various Furious Flower web spaces and ensures all Furious Flower programs are both searchable and accessible virtually. 

Layne, N’Kosi, David, and Caitlin are just four of the JMU Libraries’ newest team members. Check out this related story to meet all the Libraries’ newest folks! 

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