This June Jordan poem is from Directed by Desire. The Collected Poems of June Jordan. Reprinted with the permission of the June M. Jordan Literary Estate Trust, and Copper Canyon Press. www. Junejordan.com
Every year, Everyday Citizen blogger Melissa Tuckey has been helping to organize the Split This Rock Poetry Festival. The Split This Rock Poetry Festival’s purpose is to call poets to a greater role in public life and to bring today’s challenging American poetry of witness to a larger and more diverse audience. The name “Split This Rock” is taken from the Langston Hughes’ poem “Big Buddy.
Don’t you hear this hammer ring?
I’m gonna split this rock
And split it wide!
When I split this rock,
Stand by my side.
When I first started blogging for Everyday Citizen, I didn’t know anything about activist poets (except for maybe Langston Hughes). But then I discovered poet activists like Grace Paley, Muriel Rukeyser, W.S. Merwin, Daniel Berrigan, Amiri Baraka and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Everyday Citizen has two wonderful poets, Melissa Tuckey and Diane Wahto who publish their poems on this site.
The next Split the Rock festival will be dedicated to the poetry of June Jordan. According to her website, June Jordan was an poet, activist, journalist, essayist and teacher. June Jordan was born in Harlem in 1936, the child of West Indian immigrant parents. She graduated from Barnard College, where she would earn her B.A. June Jordan was the author of twenty-five books of poetry, fiction and essays, as well as numerous children’s books. She wrote librettos for the operas, plays and musicals. Jordan was a regular columnist for The Progressive.
Jordan also was a teacher at the City College of New York, Yale University, Sarah Lawrence College, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and the University of California, Berkeley. During her time teaching Berkeley, Jordan founded the influential poetry program Poetry For the People. Poetry for the People is a program that teaches empowerment through the artistic expression of writing and reading poetry.
As well as write, Jordan was active in the civil rights, feminist, antiwar and gay and lesbian rights movements.
Here are four youtube videos of an interview with June Jordan and recitations of June Jordan poetry.
If you enjoy this cartoon, take a look at these links for more of my political cartoons at Everyday Citizen:
Jasper Meets Howard Zinn
Jasper and the Nature Poem
Government and the Market Economy
Jasper Joins Two Protests
Bob the Nerd Vampire
Jasper Debates War
Jasper Finds His Way Home
Jasper Escapes the Detention Center
Jasper At A Detention Center
Jasper Meets a Poet
Jasper Tackles Health Care
Jasper Protests the War
Jasper and the Economy
Jasper Sings a Protest Song
The Road To Health Care Reform Cartoon
A Cartoon about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
A Cartoon about My Experience in an Evangelical Church
A Cartoon about Political Debate
A Cartoon On Gay Marriage