The Essential June Jordan

June Jordan, Jan Heller Levi, Christoph Keller, eds.

The Essential June Jordan honors the enduring legacy of a poet fiercely dedicated to building a better world. In this definitive volume, featuring an afterword by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jericho Brown, June Jordan’s generous body of poetry is distilled and curated to represent the very best of her works. 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. In these poems of great immediacy and radical kindness, humor and embodied candor, readers will (re)discover a voice that has inspired generations of contemporary poets to write their truths. June Jordan is a powerful voice of the time-honored movement for justice, a poet for the ages.

ISBN: 9781556596209

Format: Paperback

About the Author

June Jordan was born in Harlem in 1936 and was the author of ten books of poetry, seven collections of essays, two plays, a libretto, a novel, a memoir, five children’s books, and June Jordan’s Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint. As a professor at UC Berkeley, Jordan established Poetry for the People, a program to train student teachers to teach the power of poetry from a multicultural worldview. She was a regular columnist for The Progressive and her …

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About the Editor

Jan Heller Levi, poet, was a student and a long-time friend of June Jordan. She is, with Sara Miles, co-executor of the June M. Jordan Literary Estate Trust. With Miles, she co-edited Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan, and, with Christoph Keller, co-edited We’re On: A June Jordan Reader.  Her most recent book of poems,  That’s the Way to Travel, was published in a bilingual edition (English/German) by Moloko Print in 2019.  She lives in Switzerland with her husband Christoph …

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About the Editor

Christoph Keller—novelist, playwright, memoirist—is the Executive Assistant of the June M. Jordan Literary Estate Trust. With Jan Heller Levi, he co-edited We’re On: A June Jordan Reader, and has worked with foreign publishers on translations of Jordan’s work and books into German, French, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, and Basque. Keller also edited a Bengali/English selection of poems entitled Only Our Hearts Will Argue Hard. Keller’s 2019 novel, The Ground Beneath Our Feet, won the Alemannic Literary Award; his memoir Jeder Krüppel ein Superheld (Every Cripple A …

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Reviews

“Featuring an afterword by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jericho Brown, this volume of verse displays the undeniable legacy June Jordan left on both our literature and culture. Collected here are blazing examples of poetry as activism, stanzas that speak truth to power and speak out against violence against women and police brutality. But Jordan also speaks on the significance of hope, mixing, as Brown puts it, ‘the doom and devastation made mundane through media with the hard decision to love anyway.'”—O, The Oprah Magazine

“Wide in scope and singular in their articulation of atrocities, Jordan’s poems shine in this thoughtfully curated volume… As she contemplates land, borders, race, and gender, the reader, too, is invited to look closely at the world around them. In these rich, generous poems, to hold and accept divisive truths is an act of love and solidarity.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The late Jordan’s vital body of work addressed police brutality, sexism, and solidarity with marginalized voices.” —Publishers Weekly

The Essential June Jordan provides everything you’ll need to appreciate the legendary author’s transformative activist poetry.”—Library Journal

“For Amanda Gorman enthusiasts who are new to and hungry for more poetry, The Essential June Jordan arrives right on time… With radical warmth and humor as well as unflinching awareness of brutality, Jordan saw the need for solidarity among marginalized people. A blueprint for a better world, this collected work is but one element of her collected oeuvre—essays, plays, a libretto, a novel, a memoir and children’s books round out her life’s work. Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown offers an afterword to this timeless poet’s exquisite collection.”—Observer

“The multiple award-winning June Jordan was an essential part of the poetic and activist dialogue of most of the twentieth century, and this long-awaited anthology of forty years of her work is of great import for casual readers as well as scholars. Her poetic voice is in turns incisive, celebratory, rallying, conversational, in the moment and ever musical, and this compilation offers a necessary spotlight on a canonical modern writer.”—Chicago Review of Books

“Wide in scope and singular in their articulation of atrocities, Jordan’s poems shine in this thoughtfully curated volume… As she contemplates land, borders, race, and gender, the reader, too, is invited to look closely at the world around them. In these rich, generous poems, to hold and accept divisive truths is an act of love and solidarity.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Spanning over three decades of a remarkable career, this volume of verse presents a full and definitive portrait of June Jordan’s radical work. A highly respected public figure during her lifetime and a vocal advocate for social justice, her words have never been more relevant and this collection makes them accessible to a whole new generation of readers.”—Chicago Review of Books

“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… 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.”—The Arkansas International

“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… I can imagine no more an essential read than this book, this poet, these words, as we try to learn to worship the strangers around us and within us.”—Chicago Review of Books

As featured in:

O, The Oprah Magazine‘s “32 LGBTQ Books That Will Change the Literary Landscape in 2021”

Publishers Weekly, Spring 2021 Announcements: Top 10 Poetry Titles 

Publishers Weekly, “The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2021”

Library Journal, “Books and Authors to Know: Poetry Titles to Watch 2021”

Book Riot, “2021 LGBTQ Books by Black Authors to Preorder”

Ms. Magazine, “2021 Poetry for the Rest of Us”

Chicago Review of Books, “12 Must-Read Books for May”

Lambda Literary, “May’s Most Anticipated LGBTQ Literature”