( 1936- )
Poet, essayist, political activist, teacher and playwright, Jordan was born in Harlem to Jamaican parents and grew up in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Her father, who believed strongly in a good education, read Shakespeare to her and required her to memorize poetry as a child and sent her to the Northfield School for Girls. She attended Barnard College but left early to marry, have a child, and participate in civil rights work. After her divorce, Jordan wrote and taught at the City University of New York, Sarah Lawrence, Yale, and, for many years, State University of New York-Stony Brook. Known as an impassioned and rigorous teacher of writing and literature, as a mesmerizing speaker and reader of her own poetry, and as a tireless campaigner for peoples' rights, Jordan frequently speaks and reads at colleges and universities across the United States.
Jordan is a regular columnist for the Progressive, and her essays, poems, and articles appear in a wide range of publications from the New York Times to Essence. In 1995 Routledge published June Jordan's Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint, which describes her extremely successful method of teaching poetry as well as the Poetry for the People Collective she founded in the Bay Area of California. Jordan has published over twenty-one books, primarily poetry and essays, and is published in more than thirty collections, including the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry ( 1990). June Jordan is a professor of African-American studies at the University of California-Berkeley, where she lives.
Jordan's plays contain much of what works so well in her poetry: a complicated moral and ethical stance; pared down dialogue that operates, like a poem,