The June Jordan Literary Estate Trust

The Essential June Jordan
  • The Essential June Jordan

    • June Jordan

    • Jan Heller Levi (Edited by)

    • Christoph Keller (Edited by)

    • Jericho Brown (Introducer)

    The definitive introduction to the work of 'the bravest of us . . . the universal poet' (Alice Walker)

    For the poet and activist June Jordan, neither poetry nor activism could easily be disentangled from the other. Her storied career came to chronicle a living, breathing history of the struggles that defined the USA in the latter half of the twentieth century; and her poetry, accordingly, put its dazzling stylistic range to use in exploring issues of gender, race, immigration, representation and much else besides.

    Here, above all, are sinuous, lashing and passionate lines, virtuosic in their musicality and always bearing the stamp of Jordan's irrepressible personality. Here are poems of suffusing light and profound anger: poems moved as much by political animus as by a deep love for the observation of human life in all its foibles, eccentricities, strengths and weaknesses.

    With a foreword by Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown, The Essential June Jordan allows new readers to discover - and old fans to rediscover - the vital work of this endlessly surprising poet who, in the words of Adrienne Rich, believed that 'genuine, up-from-the-bottom revolution must include art, laughter, sensual pleasure, and the widest possible human referentiality.'

Born in Harlem to West Indian parents and raised in Bed-Stuy, June Jordan (1936-2002) was a poet, essayist, librettist, journalist, political activist and once-collaborator with Buckminster Fuller. Her many visionary educational projects included the establishment of Voice of the Children, a 1960s poetry programme for Black and Puerto Rican youth in Brookyln, and the founding of the influential Poetry for the People creative writing programme at UC Berkeley, where she taught. Her books of poetry include Some Changes, Living Room and Kissing God Goodbye: Poems 1991-1997. Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (2005) won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry - the last in a long list of honours which also included a congressional citation for outstanding contributions to literature, civil rights and the progressive movement.

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