The Essential June Jordan honors the enduring legacy of a poet fiercely dedicated to building a better world. In this volume, introduced by Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown, June Jordan's body of poetry is distilled and curated to represent her work. Written over the span of several decades--from Some Changes in 1971 to Last Poems in 2001---Jordan's poems are at once of their era and tragically current, with subject matter including racist police brutality, violence against women, and the opportunity for global solidarity amongst people who are marginalized or outside of the norm.
Creating a fresh playlist of such a critical voice in modern American poetry is both a significant challenge for the editors and a satisfying reward for us. The Essential June Jordan, edited by Jan Heller Levi and Christoph Keller, is a generous collection which samples poems—some unpublished—across decades, making one distinctly aware of how important Jordan is to our current discourse. The most indispensable poets—and she is easily on that list—are both of their time and oddly prescient, and that is proven repeatedly throughout this collection. What sets this book apart from others that try to capture the career-long portrait of a singular author between two covers is the editorial decision to present the work in an achronological manner ... This may not be the definitive compilation of Jordan’s oeuvre, whatever that might be, but it is decidedly a necessary one—and one that will rightly urge readers to seek out more of her work.
Be June Jordan for a few. Why not? She’s not with us anymore. Which is why this collection is so truly essential if we are to hang on to even a fraction of the extraordinary inheritance she left us. And it’s a great selection, The Essential June Jordan. All her beauties, thoughtfully and expertly selected by editors Jan Heller Levi and Christoph Heller. Her best. Her love poems ... There are over 80 poems in the book. Not all of them the most famous, but perhaps the most moving of those she published in life. And strangely, if you read cover to cover (a great way to feel these deep in your marrow) you get, at first, a sense that there were really two June Jordans (at least). One, the lover. The other, the one better known for her political works, for her activism. But keep reading. Start over and you will see both Junes live in each piece ... There is not much more to say. Read June Jordan. Read this book. Save it. Give it an important place on your bookshelf.
The Essential June Jordan, edited by Jan Heller Levi and Christoph Keller, has exquisitely and intentionally curated late poet June Jordan’s work. Boiling down the poems of such a prominent writer and activist is no easy task, but Levi and Keller have selected poems that will make readers think, explore, and admire Jordan’s legacy ... It’s evident in this collection that Jordan was a master of using language and form as vehicles to protest injustice in America ... The Essential June Jordan proves the power in June Jordan’s work. Her work called for us then and calls for us now, asking us to fight for each other and against what tears us apart, all while believing in the possibility of a better world.