Directed by Desire

The Collected Poems of June Jordan

By June Jordan; Jan Heller Levi (Editor); Sara Miles (Editor)
Copper Canyon Press, Hardcover, 9781556592287, 649pp.

Publication Date: October 2005

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"Jordan . . . is among the bravest of us, the most outraged. She feels for all. She is the universal poet."--Alice Walker

"Always urgent, inspiring, and demanding, Jordan's work has left its indelible mark everywhere from "Essence" to "The Norton Anthology of Poetry," and from theater stages to the floors of the United Nations and the United States Congress."--"BOMB"

"Directed by Desire" is "the" definitive overview of the poetry of June Jordan, considered one of the most lyrically gifted poets of the late twentieth century. "Directed by Desire" gathers the finest work from Jordan's 10 volumes, as well as 70 new, never-before-published poems that she wrote while dying of breast cancer. Throughout over 600 pages readers will find intimate lyricism, elegance, fury, meditative solos, and dazzling vernacular riffs.

As Adrienne Rich writes in her introduction, June Jordan "wanted her readers, listeners, students, to feel their own latent power--of the word, the deed, of their own beauty and intrinsic value. . . . She believed, and nourished the belief, that genuine, up-from-the-bottom revolution must include art, laughter, sensual pleasure, and the widest possible human referentiality."

From "These Poems"

"These poems
they are things that I do
in the dark
reaching for you
whoever you are
are you ready?"

June Jordan taught at the University of California Berkeley for many years and founded Poetry for the People. Her 28 books include poetry, essays, fiction, and children's books. She was a regular columnist for "The Progressive" and a prolific writer whose articles appeared in "The Village Voice," "The New York Times," "Ms. Magazine," and "The Nation." Her numerous awards include a PEN West Freedom to Write Award and a lifetime achievement award from the National Black Writers Conference. After her death from breast cancer in 2002, a school in the San Francisco School District was renamed in her honor.

About the Author
June Jordan (1936-2002) was a poet, essayist, journalist, dramatist, activist, and educator known for challenging oppression through her inspirational words and actions. She was the founder of Poetry for the People at the University of California, Berkeley, where she taught for many years. The author of over twenty books, including the young adult novel HIS OWN WHERE, her poetry is collected in DIRECTED BY DESIRE; her selected essays in Some of Us Did Not Die.

Jan Heller Levi s third collection of poems, Orphan, will be published in January 2014 by Alice James Books. She is the editor of A Muriel Rukeyser Reader and is currently writing a biography of Rukeyser, forthcoming from Alfred A. Knopf, with Christoph Keller. She teaches at Hunter College in New York City.

Sara Miles is a reporter and editor who lives in San Francisco. She is a contributing writer for Outmagazine, and a freelance contributing editor to magazines including "The Nation", "The New Yorker", and "Wired".
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