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June Jordan

  • She loved poetry / sometimes I thought that she would take the words / and eat them carefully as filaments of saffron.

    • June Jordan,
    • "Three for Kimako," Living Room ()
  • But everybody needs a home / so at least you have someplace to leave / which is where most other folks will say / you must be coming from.

    • June Jordan,
    • "Notes Towards Home," Living Room ()
  • A democratic state is not proven by the welfare of the strong but by the welfare of the weak.

    • June Jordan,
    • "For the Sake of a People's Poetry," Passion ()
  • We are the wrong people of / the wrong skin in the wrong continent and what / in the hell is everybody being reasonable about ...

    • June Jordan,
    • "Poem About My Rights," Passion ()
  • Describe me broken mast / adrift but strong / regardless what may / come along.

    • June Jordan,
    • "Who Look at Me," Things That I Do in the Dark ()
  • ... who can choose between the worst possibility / and the last ...

    • June Jordan,
    • "Roman Poem Number Thirteen," Things That I Do in the Dark ()
  • There is a man who exists as one of the most popular objects of leadership, legislation, and quasi-literature in the history of all men ... This man, that object of attention, attack, and vast activity, cannot make himself be heard, let alone to be understood. He has never been listened to ... That man is Black and alive in white America where the media of communication do not allow the delivery of his own voice, his own desires, his own rage.

  • 'Mos anytime you see whiteman spose to fight each other an' you not white, well you know you got trouble, because they blah-blah loud about Democrat or Republican an' they huffin' an' puff about democracy someplace else but relentless, see, the real deal come down evil on someday don' have no shirt an' tie, somebody don' live in no whiteman house no whiteman country.

  • Our children will not survive our habits of thinking, our failures of the spirit, our wreck of the universe into which we bring new life as blithely as we do. Mostly, our children will resemble our own misery and spite and anger, because we give them no choice about it. In the name of motherhood and fatherhood and education and good manners, we threaten and suffocate and bind and ensnare and bribe and trick children into wholesale emulation of our ways.

  • Revolution always unfolds inside an atmosphere of rising expectations.

    • June Jordan,
    • "America in Confrontation With Democracy," Technical Difficulties ()
  • The United States Supreme Court, once a reliable if ultimate recourse for progressive and even revolutionary grievances, has become a retrograde wellspring for enormous economic and social distress.

    • June Jordan,
    • "Where Is the Rage?" Technical Difficulties ()
  • The neglected legacy of the Sixties is just this: unabashed moral certitude, and the purity — the incredibly outgoing energy — of righteous rage.

    • June Jordan,
    • "Where Is the Rage?" Technical Difficulties ()
  • I do not believe that we can restore and expand the freedoms that our lives require unless and until we embrace the justice of our rage. And, if we do not change the language of current political discourse, if we do not reintroduce a Right and Wrong, a Good or Evil measurement of doers and deeds, then how shall we, finally, argue our cause?

    • June Jordan,
    • "Where Is the Rage?" Technical Difficulties ()
  • What tyranny could exceed a tyranny that dictates to the human heart?

    • June Jordan,
    • "A New Politics of Sexuality," in Progressive ()
  • Freedom is indivisible, and either we are working for freedom or you are working for the sake of your self-interests and I am working for mine.

    • June Jordan,
    • "A New Politics of Sexuality," in Progressive ()
  • ... suicide is absolute, and if you think you will survive by hiding who you really are, you are sadly misled: there is no such thing as partial or intermittent suicide. You can only survive if you — who you really are — do survive.

    • June Jordan,
    • "A New Politics of Sexuality," in Progressive ()
  • Bisexuality invalidates either/or formulation, either/or analysis ... If you are free, you are not predictable and you are not controllable. To my mind, that is the keenly positive, politicizing significance of bisexual affirmation: To insist upon complexity, to insist upon the equal validity of all of the components of social/sexual complexity.

    • June Jordan,
    • "A New Politics of Sexuality," in Progressive ()
  • Poetry is a political act because it involves telling the truth.

    • June Jordan,
    • in Julie Quiroz, "Poetry Is a Political Act," Colorlines ()
  • What's important about poetry in the context of leadership is that most of the time, power has to do with dominance. But poetry is never about dominance. Poetry is powerful but it cannot even aspire to dominate anyone. It means making a connection. That's what it means.

    • June Jordan,
    • in Julie Quiroz, "Poetry Is a Political Act," Colorlines ()
  • As I think about anyone or anything — whether history or literature or my father or political organizations or a poem or a film — as I seek to evaluate the potentiality, the life-supportive commitment and possibilities of anyone or any thing, the decisive question is always where is the love?

    • June Jordan,
    • in American Writer ()
  • The thing about genius is it will never yield to circumstances. Genius regards what's given as the beginning of its need to find or devise something else.

    • June Jordan
  • We are the ones we've been waiting for.

    • June Jordan,
    • "Poem to South African Women," Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan ()
  • These poems / they are things that I do / in the dark / reaching for you / whoever you are / and / are you ready?

    • June Jordan,
    • "These Poems," Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan ()

June Jordan, U.S. poet, journalist

(1936 - 2002)