ABC-CLIO

June Jordan

Her Life and Letters

by Valerie Kinloch

 

Profiles the life and works of June Jordan, one of the most prolific, important, and influential African-American writers and poets of the last half century.

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Cover image for June Jordan

June 2006

Praeger

Pages 224
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics The Arts/General
  • Hardcover

    978-0-275-98241-6

    $49.00

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    978-0-313-01439-0

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June Jordan was born on July 9, 1936, in Harlem, New York, to Mildred and Granville Jordan, Jamaican natives. During her life, she became one of the most prolific, important, and influential African American writers of her time. Before her death from breast cancer in 2002, Jordan published more than 27 books, including Some of Us Did Not Die, Solider: A Poet's Childhood, Poetry for the People: Finding a Voice through Verse, Haruko Love Poems, and Naming Our Destiny. Her work Civil Wars, a collection of letters and essays, addressed such topics as violence, homosexuality, race, and black feminism. Working in many genres and touching on many themes and issues, Jordan was a powerful force in American literature. This biography reveals the woman, the writer, the poet, the activist, the leader, and the educator in all her complexity.

Working in many genres and touching on many themes and issues, June Jordan was a powerful force in American literature. This biography reveals the woman, the writer, the speaker, the poet, the activist, the leader, and the educator in all her complexity.
June Jordan was born on July 9, 1936, in Harlem, New York, to Mildred and Granville Jordan, Jamaican natives. During her life, she became one of the most prolific, important, and influential African American writers of her time. Before her death from breast cancer in 2002, Jordan published more than 27 books, including Some of Us Did Not Die, Solider: A Poet's Childhood, Poetry for the People: Finding a Voice through Verse, Haruko Love Poems, and Naming Our Destiny. Her work Civil Wars, a collection of letters and essays, addressed such topics as violence, homosexuality, race, and black feminism.

Kinloch offers a life and letters of this prolific writer, delving into both her biography and her contributions as a writer and activist. This approach unveils the power of language in Jordan's poems, essays, speeches, books—and ultimately in her own life—as she challenged political systems of injustice, racism, and sexism. Kinloch examines questions surrounding the pain of writing, the anger of oppression, and the struggle of African American women to assert their voices. Attention is paid to the ways in which Jordan's life informed her writings her perspectives, and her contributions to the global landscape of class, race, and gender issues. The writer's major works are explored in detail, as Kinloch weaves discussions of her life into critical considerations of her writings. Ultimately, this portrait illustrates the ways in which Jordan's career represented her dedication to making words work; her ability to rally and revolutionize the spirit of people invested in decolonization, love, and freedom; and her responsiveness to the world in which she lived.

Reviews/Endorsements

Reviews

"She died far too soon, in her mid-sixties, but her career spanned one of the most significant eras in African American literature. Kinloch examines how Jordan's writing worked as enlightenment, education, reaction, activism, therapy and warning, and relates the very real pain that is writing to the very real pain that is living within the lines of racial discrimination. Kinloch examines the lesser-known works as well as those recognized as major contributions to studies of violence, homosexuality, race, and black feminism. Jordan's over two dozen books and reams of poetry are interspersed by her experiences as an activist, and Kinlock finds this complex soul was also a powerful wielder of language. Jordan caused a revolution amongst writers who have been traditionally underrepresented; this is the beginning of what will be significant scholarship on her influence."Reference & Research Book News

"[F]or high school, college/university students, and general readers....The author explores Jordan's personal life through letters, interviews with relatives, her poetry, and other writings. Kinloch reveals Jordan's depth and intent as a woman, a writer, a poet, an activist, an educator, and a leader."Multicultural Review

"Among other things, Jordan was an activist, poet, teacher, and author. Through her poetry, she sought to transcend limiting labels like black, bisexual, divorced, poor, and female, and she encouraged others to do the same. Using letters, interviews with Jordan's relatives, her poetry, and her other writings, Kinloch delves into the woman's personal life so that readers might better grasp the depth and intent of her work. This is an intimate introduction to a variety of historical events and noteworthy people....Kinloch's study will be of special importance to young women forging their place in the world as writers and activists."School Library Journal

"What differentiates the work from a traditional treatment, despite the clear black-and-white photographs, the index, bibliography and notes, and the informative introduction, is the biographer's voice that appears regularly in June Jordan: Her Life and Letters pointing up the urgency or timeliness of her subject's ideas. Clearly, this strategy lends immediacy to the narrative. . . . deserve[s] a place in the body of feminist inquiry that deepens our understanding of how women of purpose took their place in history."NWSA Journal

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