Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Honouring June Jordan

In honour of the re-release of HIS OWN WHERE, which I reviewed here, I'm going to put up quotes from the inimitable June Jordan. These are quotes that meant a great deal to me when I first read them. I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Jordan in the early 1990's, when she visited Toronto and did a reading for Sister Vision Press - a feminist press started and run by women of colour for "challenging and provocative" works written by women of colour. I was young and learning and seeing so many things for the first time. Jordan awed me and blew me away. Her passion, her sense of rhythm, and her absolute, radiating love was what drew me in. I'll never forget that reading. The call for action and change that rose through her depths and made it's impact in that room full of women and men, white and PoC, het and LGBTQ was critical for me during my formative years as a writer and activist. You are greatly missed, Ms. Jordan, but your legacy lives on.

"My life seems to be an increasing revelation of the intimate face of universal struggle. You begin with your family and the kids on the block, and next you open your eyes to what you call your people, and that leads you into land reform into Black English into Angola leads you back to your own bed where you lie by yourself, wondering if you deserve to be peaceful, or trusted or desired or left to the freedom of your own unfaltering heart. And the scale shrinks to the size of a skull: your own interior cage. And then if you’re lucky, and I have been lucky, everything comes back to you. And then you know why one of the freedom fighters in the sixties, a young Black woman interviewed shortly after she was beaten up for riding near the front of the interstate bus––you know why she said, ‘We are all so very happy’? It’s because it’s on. All of us and me by myself: we’re on."
-- from the foreword to Civil Wars, 1980, by June Jordan


"Our own shadows disappear as the feet of thousands
by the tens of thousands pound the fallow land
into new dust that
rising like a marvelous pollen will be
fertile
even as the first woman whispering
imagination to the trees around her made
for righteous fruit
from such deliberate defense of life
as no other still
will claim inferior to any other safety
in the world

[. . .]
And who will join this standing up
and the ones who stood without sweet company
will sing and sing
back into the mountains and
if necessary
even under the sea:


we are the ones we have been waiting for."

Go to JuneJordan.com for more info on Ms. Jordan and her work. Also, look for posts this week by Ari of Reading in Color and on The Rejectionist blog featuring quotes and reviews of HIS OWN WHERE.

1 comment:

MissAttitude said...

I read and finished His Own Where today. WOW. I'm still trying to process it. it seems like so little happened in so few pages, but a lot did happen. The writing took some time to get used to but the story was so sweet and heartwarming. (I'll stop now before I write out my whole review here, haha)

I'm so glad we are celebrating June in Junde :) Thank you for sharing these quotes, it must have been amazing to meet Ms. Jordan. she is so prolific.

Did June Jordan come up with the phrase "we are the ones we have been waiting for"? Just curious

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