Friday, February 10, 2023

The Power of Words -- from June Jordan

      One of the very special privileges that I had while taking classes  at Hunter College (1999-2001) was to attend a poetry reading by June Jordan (1936-2002) -- a reading that introduced me to the power of her fearless voice and the importance of her words.

     Jordan often uses repetition and the precision of numbers to  build  strength in her poems; here is a sample -- the opening lines of "The Bombing of Baghdad":


     began and did not terminate for 42 days
     and 42 nights relentless minute after minute
     more than 110,000 times
     ae bombed Iraq we bombed Baghdad
     we bombed Basra/we bombed military
     installations we bombed the National Museum
     we bombed schools we bombed air raid
     shelters we bombed water we bombed
     electricity we bombed hospitals we
     bombed streets we bombed highways
     we bombed everything that moved/we
     bombed everything that did no move we
     bombed Baghdad
     a city of 5.5 million human beings .  . .

The complete poem may be found here at

At this link are numerous recordings of Jordan reading her poems.   Here is a link to an article by Hunter College professor Donna Masini, "Writing and Teaching in a Time of Crisis:  Lessons from June Jordan" -- and here is a link to previous mentions of Jordan and her work in this blog.

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