Manual Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan

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She was a most personal of political poets.


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Her poems could be cajoling and vituperative, making love and war simultaneously, as, in this collection, soft-spoken sensual lyrics cohabit with performance pieces. She devised her poems with passion, finesse, and a compressed, individual style. Here she breaks what is actually a dactylic metrical line so that the beat is undermined and countered by the line-breaks: a subtle disorienting of form and expectation. These are poems full of specificity—people and places, facts, grocery lists, imaginary scenarios of social change, anecdotes, talk —that June Jordan voice, compelling, blandishing, outraged and outrageous, tender and relentless with the trust that her words matter, that someone is listening and ready for them.

She knew many poetries, ancient and modern.

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Her sonnets, for example, are both silken and surprising:. To read through Directed by Desire is to see June Jordan, restless in movement, writing always for the voice: sometimes for the intimate interior room, sometimes more for declamation. Some of her brief message-poems for friends can seem tenuous and transitory. Others are firmly chiseled epigrams:. In the last years of her life, when she was often in great pain from metastasized cancer, surgery and chemotherapy, her wit and fury enabled her to go on writing love poems and polemics, some in delicately caressing language, some grimly or hilariously resistant to diminishment.

One of the most widely-published and highly-acclaimed African American writers of her generation, poet, playwright and essayist June Jordan was known for her fierce commitment to human rights and political Producer Wesley Weissberg interviews poets and critics about June Jordan's legacy and rap's place in poetry. Prose Home Harriet Blog.

Visit Home Events Exhibitions Library. Newsletter Subscribe Give. Poetry Foundation. Back to Previous. Directed by Desire. An introduction to the collected poems of June Jordan.

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By Adrienne Rich. Her writing was above all dialogic: reaching for you whoever you are and are you ready? I am a stranger learning to worship the strangers around me whoever you are whoever I may become. I would consider then perfection possible, or else worthwhile to think about. But still, perfection takes some sacrifice of falling stars for rare. And there are stars, but none of you, to spare. I assume that you fume while the dollar bills bloom and you magnify scum while the critics stay mum and you anguish and languish runnin straight to the bank.

Who would behold the colorings of a cloud and legislate its shadows legislate its shine? Or confront a cataract of rain and seek to interdict its speed and suffocate its sound? Or disappear the trees behind a nomenclature no one knows by heart? Or count the syllables that invoke the mother of my tongue? Or say the game goes the way of the wind And the wind blows the way of the ones who make and break the rules? And throughout her ardent, abbreviated life, she did. Foreword copyright by Adrienne Rich.

Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press. Originally Published: August 15th, Read Full Biography. Roman Poem Number Seventeen. From an Uprooted Condition. Onesided Dialog. On Divine Adaptation to an Age of Disbelief. The Round of Grief. One Minus One Minus. From Inside the Continuum.

On a Monday Afternoon. Poem about The Head ofa Negro. Poem of Personal Greeting for Fidel. An Explanation Always Follows. Letter to the Local Police. Michael Goodbye for aWhile. Poem about Police Violence. Sketching in the Transcendental. Poem for Mrs Fannie Lou Hamer. Poem for South African Women.

Notes on the Peanut. Unemployment Monologue. Toward a City That Sings. A Song of Sojourner Truth. Alla Thas All Right. A Poem about Vieques Puerto Rico. En Passant For Lil. Niagara Falls calling it quits. Poem toward the Bottom Line.

Directed by desire : the collected poems of June Jordan in SearchWorks catalog

Memoranda toward the Spring of Seventynine. Rape Is Not a Poem. What Is This in Reference To? Poem 2 for Inaugural Rose. Poem about My Rights. Grand Army Plaza. A Poem in Process. From Sea to Shining. Des Moines Iowa. A poem for Jonathan Poem for Nicaragua. Problems of Language.

Independence Day in the U S. Song of the Law Abiding Citizen. October 23 Addenda to the Papal Bull. Poem for the Poet Sara Miles.

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Poem for Guatemala. A Runaway Lil Bit Poem.

Directed by Desire The Collected Poems of June Jordan

DeLiza Spend the Day in the City. Poem towards a Final Solution. The Cedar Trees of Lebanon. Ghazal at Full Moon.

June Jordan

Poem Instead of a Columbus Day Parade. The Madison Experience. At Some Moment the Confidence Snaps. Poem at the Midnight of My Life. The Female and the Silence ofa. Smash the Church. Financial Planning. Sometimes DeLiza.


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