There aren't any streets or postal holidays named for June Jordan, but she's cherished by and collaborated with her own share of landmarks: she has planned a new Harlem with R. Buckminster Fuller, sipped coffee with Malcolm X, gotten teaching advice from Toni Cade Bambara, co-starred in a film with Angela Davis, and written an opera with John Adams and Peter Sellars. But no June Jordan Day. Yet.
If you're not yet familiar with June Jordan, award-winning author of no less than two dozen books, one of America's most extensively anthologized and prolific living poets, and one of the twentieth century's most critical activists and teachers, now is a good time to get acquainted. This month marks the publication of her twenty-fourth book, Kissing God Goodbye: New Poems 1991-1996, with a collection of political essays and a memoir soon to follow. Hers is a visionary voice, a trenchant, compassionate, and often humorous guide to the last years of the millenium.
Kissing God Goodbye speaks eloquently of what seem to be the twin preoccupations of an unusually generous, clear-sighted wordsmith: responsiveness to the world in which we live, and responsibility to each other as human beings. June Jordan is a poet for whom political conviction exists in the same universe of moral effort as love (erotic, familial, and humanistic love. The collection places explicitly, intensely political works, shoulder-to-shoulder with a cycle of powerful, affecting poems that address love and passion as their thematic centerpieces.
This issue of Bold Type features highlights from Kissing God Goodbye, as well as a selection of new poems that prove language is a route to revelation and revolution.
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Photo of June Jordan © copyright Linda Sue Scott Photography