June Jordan reader

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We're On: A June Jordan Reader
500 pages; Alice James Books
In sorting through June Jordan's vast oeuvre, the editors of We’re On: A June Jordan Reader (Alice James Books) lament facing "the challenge of too much brilliance." The dense volume includes selections of her poetry—free verse, tankas (a Japanese form featuring 31 syllables divided into five lines), odes to lovers—alongside speeches, letters, and reflections on urban planning, the politics of language, and racial inequality. Jordan was, as Toni Morrison said, "our premiere black woman essayist." The writer, who succumbed to breast cancer in 2002, delivered this rallying cry before she passed: "That new women's work will mean we will not die trying to stand up: we will live that way: standing up."