Synopses & Reviews
“Jordan . . . is among the bravest of us, the most outraged. She feels for all. She is the universal poet.”—Alice Walker
“Always urgent, inspiring, and demanding, Jordan’s work has left its indelible mark everywhere from Essence to The Norton Anthology of Poetry, and from theater stages to the floors of the United Nations and the United States Congress.”—BOMB
Directed by Desire is the definitive overview of the poetry of June Jordan, considered one of the most lyrically gifted poets of the late twentieth century. Directed by Desire gathers the finest work from Jordan’s 10 volumes, as well as 70 new, never-before-published poems that she wrote while dying of breast cancer. Throughout over 600 pages readers will find intimate lyricism, elegance, fury, meditative solos, and dazzling vernacular riffs.
As Adrienne Rich writes in her introduction, June Jordan “wanted her readers, listeners, students, to feel their own latent power—of the word, the deed, of their own beauty and intrinsic value. . . . She believed, and nourished the belief, that genuine, up-from-the-bottom revolution must include art, laughter, sensual pleasure, and the widest possible human referentiality.”
From These Poems
they are things that I do
in the dark
reaching for you
whoever you are
are you ready?
June Jordan taught at the University of California Berkeley for many years and founded Poetry for the People. Her 28 books include poetry, essays, fiction, and children’s books. She was a regular columnist for The Progressive and a prolific writer whose articles appeared in The Village Voice, The New York Times, Ms. Magazine, and The Nation. Her numerous awards include a PEN West Freedom to Write Award and a lifetime achievement award from the National Black Writers Conference. After her death from breast cancer in 2002, a school in the San Francisco School District was renamed in her honor.
"As fierce in her activist life as in her passionate verse, Jordan (1936 2002) first rose to fame in the early '70s with declamatory poems and series inspired by African-American vernacular: 'Who look at me?' her first series demanded; 'I am black alive and looking back at you.' A flexible metrical sense, and an undercurrent of humor, set her best work apart from her performance-oriented peers early on; Jordan later expanded her range with travel (in a series of poems about life in Rome), with persona poems and satire ('Directions for Carrying Explosive Nuclear Waste Through Metropolitan New York'; 'The Beirut Jokebook') During the '80s, Jordan (Naming Our Destiny) often focused on international struggles, praising revolutionaries and peace activists in Cuba, Angola, Nicaragua and Israel/Palestine, and excoriating American militarism and racism. She later became a professor at the University of California Berkeley, assembling an influential book on the teaching of poetry (June Jordan's Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint) and a widely noticed memoir, Soldier: A Poet's Childhood (2000). This ample collection concludes with 62 pages of 'last poems': several concern the cancer that took Jordan's life, and one of the best sasses back at Eminem. Adrienne Rich's foreword praises this 'most personal of political poets' for her verbal power and for her commitment to justice: her loyal following will certainly agree." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This definitive collection includes Jordan's last poems and embodies her passions for justice, activism, and beauty.
Poetry. African American Studies. DIRECTED BY DESIRE is the definitive overview of the poetry of June Jordan, considered one of the most lyrically gifted poets of the late twentieth century. This collection gathers the finest work from her 10 volumes, as well as 70 new, never-before-published poems. Throughout over 600 pages readers will find intimate lyricism, elegance, fury, meditative solos, and dazzling vernacular riffs. As Adrienne Rich writes in her introduction, June Jordan "wanted her readers, listeners, students, to feel their own latent power--of the word, the deed, of their own beauty and intrinsic value."
About the Author
June Jordan was born in Harlem. Her twenty-eight books include poetry, essays, and children's books. A beloved teacher and exuberant activist, she founded Poetry For the People, and was a regular columnist for The Progressive and a prolific writer whose articles appeared in The Village Voice, The New York Times, Ms., and Essence. She died of breast cancer in 2002. Adrienne Rich is poet, essayist, and one of America's most widely read and respected literary figures. She has been a life-long activist for women's issues. Jan Heller Levi is the literary for the June Jordan estate. She lives in New York City. Sara Miles is a literary executor for the June Jordan estate. She lives in San Francisco.