June Jordan Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

June Jordan’s literary reputation is based almost equally on her poetry and her political and autobiographical essays, which she considered inextricably connected. Thus her poetry addresses many of the topics she discusses in her major essay collections. In addition, she published a novel, books for children and young adults, an illustrated history of the Reconstruction and Civil Rights eras, dramatic pieces, and the prose memoir Soldier: A Poet’s Childhood (2000).


(Poets and Poetry in America)

June Jordan won the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award (1995), the National Association of Black Journalists Award (1984), and the PEN Center USA West Freedom to Write Award (1991). She was the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Massachusetts Council on the Arts. She also won the Prix de Rome in Environmental Design (1970-1971). In 1971, her His Own Where (1971) was nominated for a National Book Award. Directed by Desire won a Lambda Literary Award in 2005. Her poetry is represented in many major anthologies of contemporary American poetry.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Brogan, Jacqueline V. “From Warrior to Womanist: The Development of June Jordan’s Poetry.” In Speaking the Other Self: American Women Writers, edited by Jeanne Campbell Reesman. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1997. Traces Jordan’s growth as a poet, concentrating on her life as a political and social activist.

Brown, Kimberly N. “June Jordan.” In Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. A useful reference entry in a book devoted to African American writers.

Erickson, Peter. “The Love Poetry of June Jordan.” Callaloo 9, no. 1 (Winter, 1986): 221-234. Discusses the poems in Passion, in particular those selected later for Things I Do in the Dark. Claims that attention to Jordan’s activist, political poetry has unjustly overshadowed her powerful love poetry.

Graves, Roy Neil, and Cynthia A. Bily. “The Poetry of June Jordan.” In Masterplots II: African American Literature, edited by Tyrone Williams. Rev. ed. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2009. Provides biographical information as well as analysis of her poetry.

Kinloch, Valerie. June Jordan: Her Life and Letters. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2006. A biography and critical analysis of the works of Jordan. Works examined include Soldier, Who Look at Me, New Days, Moving Towards Home, and Kissing God Goodbye. The poem “What would I do white?” is also analyzed.

Kinloch, Valerie, and Margret Grebowicz, eds. Still Seeking an Attitude: Critical Reflections on the Work of June Jordan. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2004. Essays on Jordan cover multiple aspects, including her life, her activism and political essays, her poetry, her children’s works, and her use of English.

MacPhail, Scott. “June Jordan and the New Black Intellectuals.” African American Review 33, no. 1 (1999): 57-71. Analysis of the political side of Jordan’s writing career.