Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems

June Jordan, Author, Jan Heller Levi, Editor, Sara Miles, Editor . Copper Canyon $40 (649p) ISBN 978-1-55659-228-7

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. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 06/27/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 640 pages - 978-1-55659-234-8
Open Ebook - 640 pages - 978-1-61932-080-2
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