The Essential June Jordan by June Jordan
Where to start with June Jordan? She was a love poet in the midst of the Black Arts Movement and the fight for civil rights and an uncompromising activist whose politics could not be disentangled from her art. An openly bisexual writer, Jordan was a keen observer and recorder of humanity (and its foibles), whose sense of humour and righteous anger infused everything she wrote.
Alice Walker, Adrienne Rich and Toni Morrison all loved her, both for her writing and for her own irrepressible personality. (The architect and futurist Buckminster Fuller was a fan, too: he and a young June Jordan once collaborated on a plan for the revitalization of the social and urban fabric of Harlem, sadly never realised.) And though Jordan was of her time, she was also ahead of it. The poems gathered in The Essential June Jordan explore gender, race, police brutality and global solidarity. She made these issues real, always lived and felt.
Jordan was a visionary who believed, as Rich put it, “that genuine, up-from-the-bottom revolution must include art, laughter, sensual pleasure, and the widest possible human referentiality”. Her poems are musical, driving, energising, at times angering, and at times just a lot of fun. Give them a try.
Chosen by Donald Futers