SOME OF US DID NOT DIE: New and Selected Essays of June Jordan
An inspiring poet, activist, Progressive columnist and UC Berkeley professor of African-American studies, Jordan died last month from breast cancer at the age of 65. Her Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint provided the ideological impetus behind myriad community-oriented poetry events—and poems—since its publication in the mid-1990s (a shorter essay version appears here). This book brings together 32 essays from four previous collections and eight previously uncollected recent pieces. Repeated engagements with sex and sexism, and race and racism, are matched with advocacy for legal reform ("Break the Law!") and agitation for collective responses to oppression and parsings of its language, including a seminal essay on Black English ("Nobody Mean More to Me than You"). Jordan also documents trips to Mississippi, Nicaragua and the Bahamas, and offers a still relevant assessment of the Israel-Lebanon war of 1982. New pieces include the title work, a response to September 11: "I hope we will bestir ourselves to rally around an emergency/ militant reconstruction of a secular democracy consecrated to the equality of each and every living one of us." With a steadfastness and resolute power, these essays show us a way toward that consecration. (Sept. 5)
Forecast:Jordan's Soldier, an autobiography published in 2000, is in print in paperback from Basic. Kissing God Goodbye: Poems 1991–1997 (Doubleday) and the 1989 release Naming Our Destiny: New and Selected Poems (Thunder's Mouth) are also available, along with Poetry for the People (Routledge). National tributes to Jordan from major writers should be appearing as this goes to press; they could be enlarged and displayed with Jordan's work.