June Jordan quotes

13   1

June Jordan

Birthdate: 9. July 1936
Date of death: 14. June 2002

June Millicent Jordan was a Caribbean-American poet, essayist, and activist.

„Our earth is round, and, among other things, that means that you and I can hold completely different points of view and both be right. The difference of our positions will show stars in your window I cannot even imagine.“

—  June Jordan

Introduction to the "Corners on the Curving Sky" section of the book Soulscript (1970) compiled by Jordan. These lines have been widely published in verse format as work misattributed to Gwendolyn Brooks, usually as a poem titled "Corners on the Curving Sky." One website http://web.archive.org/20090809112040/www.geocities.com/juscurious/anon.html indicated that Brooks had publicly repudiated the attribution of these lines to her, but the misattribution seems to have long remained largely unrecognized.
Context: Our earth is round, and, among other things, that means that you and I can hold completely different points of view and both be right. The difference of our positions will show stars in your window I cannot even imagine. Your sky may burn with light, while mine, at the same moment, spreads beautiful to darkness. Still we must choose how we separately corner the circling universe of our experience. Once chosen, our cornering will determine the message of any star and darkness we encounter. These poems speak to philosophy; they reveal the corners where we organize what we know.

„I wanted to be strong. I never wanted to be weak again as long as I lived.“

—  June Jordan

"Many Rivers To Cross" (1981); later published in Some of Us Did Not Die : New and Selected Essays of June Jordan (2002)
Context: I wanted to be strong. I never wanted to be weak again as long as I lived. I thought about my mother and her suicide and I thought about how my father could not tell whether she was dead or alive.
I wanted to get well and what I wanted to do as soon as I was strong, actually, what I wanted to do was I wanted to live my life so that people would know unmistakably that I am alive, so that when I finally die people will know the difference for sure between my living and my death.
And I thought about the idea of my mother as a good woman and I rejected that, because I don't see why it's a good thing when you give up, or when you cooperate with those who hate you or when you polish and iron and mend and endlessly mollify for the sake of the people who love the way that you kill yourself day by day silently.
And I think all of this is really about women and work. Certainly this is all about me as a woman and my life work. I mean I am not sure my mother’s suicide was something extraordinary. Perhaps most women must deal with a similar inheritance, the legacy of a woman whose death you cannot possibly pinpoint because she died so many, many times and because, even before she became my mother, the life of that woman was taken; I say it was taken away.

„If any of us hopes to survive, s/he must meet the extremity of the American female condition with immediate and political response.“

—  June Jordan

"The Case for the Real Majority" (1982), from Moving Towards Home: Political Essays (1989)
Context: If any of us hopes to survive, s/he must meet the extremity of the American female condition with immediate and political response. The thoroughly destructive and indefensible subjugation of the majority of Americans cannot continue except at the peril of the entire body politic.

„Poetry for the People rests upon a belief that the art of telling the truth is a necessary and a healthy way to create powerful, and positive, connections among people who, otherwise, remain (unknown and unaware) strangers. The goal is not to kill connections but, rather, to create and to deepen them among truly different men and women.“

—  June Jordan

General rules for the "Poetry for the People" program she founded at the University of Berkeley in 1991, as quoted in June Jordan : Her Life and Letters (2006) by Valerie Kinloch, Ch. 6 : Affirmative Acts: Political Essays, p. 123
Context: 1. “The People” shall not be defined as a group excluding or derogating anyone on the basis of race, ethnicity, language, sexual preference, class, or age.
2. “The People” shall consciously undertake to respect and to encourage each other to feel safe enough to attempt the building of a community of trust in which all may try to be truthful and deeply serious in the messages they craft for the world to contemplate.
3. Poetry for the People rests upon a belief that the art of telling the truth is a necessary and a healthy way to create powerful, and positive, connections among people who, otherwise, remain (unknown and unaware) strangers. The goal is not to kill connections but, rather, to create and to deepen them among truly different men and women.

„Once chosen, our cornering will determine the message of any star and darkness we encounter.“

—  June Jordan

Introduction to the "Corners on the Curving Sky" section of the book Soulscript (1970) compiled by Jordan. These lines have been widely published in verse format as work misattributed to Gwendolyn Brooks, usually as a poem titled "Corners on the Curving Sky." One website http://web.archive.org/20090809112040/www.geocities.com/juscurious/anon.html indicated that Brooks had publicly repudiated the attribution of these lines to her, but the misattribution seems to have long remained largely unrecognized.
Context: Our earth is round, and, among other things, that means that you and I can hold completely different points of view and both be right. The difference of our positions will show stars in your window I cannot even imagine. Your sky may burn with light, while mine, at the same moment, spreads beautiful to darkness. Still we must choose how we separately corner the circling universe of our experience. Once chosen, our cornering will determine the message of any star and darkness we encounter. These poems speak to philosophy; they reveal the corners where we organize what we know.

„I wanted to live my life so that people would know unmistakably that I am alive, so that when I finally die people will know the difference for sure between my living and my death.“

—  June Jordan

"Many Rivers To Cross" (1981); later published in Some of Us Did Not Die : New and Selected Essays of June Jordan (2002)
Context: I wanted to be strong. I never wanted to be weak again as long as I lived. I thought about my mother and her suicide and I thought about how my father could not tell whether she was dead or alive.
I wanted to get well and what I wanted to do as soon as I was strong, actually, what I wanted to do was I wanted to live my life so that people would know unmistakably that I am alive, so that when I finally die people will know the difference for sure between my living and my death.
And I thought about the idea of my mother as a good woman and I rejected that, because I don't see why it's a good thing when you give up, or when you cooperate with those who hate you or when you polish and iron and mend and endlessly mollify for the sake of the people who love the way that you kill yourself day by day silently.
And I think all of this is really about women and work. Certainly this is all about me as a woman and my life work. I mean I am not sure my mother’s suicide was something extraordinary. Perhaps most women must deal with a similar inheritance, the legacy of a woman whose death you cannot possibly pinpoint because she died so many, many times and because, even before she became my mother, the life of that woman was taken; I say it was taken away.

„We are the ones we have been waiting for.“

—  June Jordan

"Poem for South African Women", Passion (1980)

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