(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Naming Our Destiny: New and Selected Poems, June Jordan’s most monumental volume of poetry, is a collection that covers a wide range of topics. The poems in the collection span more than thirty years; fifty pieces never published previously are also included in this volume. In Naming Our Destiny, Jordan demonstrates that it is her mission as an artist to change the world, and with the poems in this collection, Jordan takes a stance against oppression as she explores the black experience in America.

Jordan’s volume begins with “Poem from Taped Testimony in the Tradition of Bernard Goetz.” The poem, which starts, “This was not I repeat this was not a racial incident,” reflects Jordan’s willingness to include contemporary affairs that have political and historical significance in her poetry. With the verses of this poem, Jordan tries to show the reader, from a black woman’s perspective, just what might pass through a mind like that of Bernard Goetz—a white man who shot black youths in a New York City subway in the early 1980’s. Jordan looks unflinchingly at the reality of this event and states it in the simplest language. This poem also displays the power of idiomatic and colloquial language.

Another example of Jordan’s devotion to exploiting instances of human oppression can be found in “The Female and the Silence of a Man.” The poem, situated in the middle of the collection, is a response to Irish...

(The entire section is 450 words.)