Gwen Ifill's Bookshelf
By June Jordan
My father was a minister, an immigrant who moved to this country from Panama. He was a civil-rights activist and marched in demonstrations. He was an overpowering presence in the family, and I take after him in a lot of emotional and physical ways. When I heard about this memoir of a black woman growing up in the shadow of a powerful black immigrant father, I thought, Okay, this is me. I was a little concerned when I learned that the author was a poet. I have never bonded with poetry—maybe I'm too practical, too nuts-and-bolts. But Jordan's book was so compelling to me, partly because of the subject matter but also because she's a very gentle writer, very evocative. She drew me in.