NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire V. 16.1 - Page 54

Jordan’s love reach is personal but extends into the political. As a single mother, her love for her son, Christopher — whom she had with Michael Meyer — would be a motivating factor in her career decisions. In her collection of poems, Living Room, we see her dedicating the book to the children of Atlanta and to the children of Lebanon. In the essay, “Love is Not the Problem,” published in On Call, Jordan writes about her interracial marriage to Meyer, a marriage that ended in divorce in 1965 after 10 years. Considering that in many states interracial marriages were illegal during the 1950s, this marriage was radical, and Jordan understood this, writing: And I know that in America, one out of two marriages fails nowadays: the institution itself is not well, evidently. And I know that I do not regret my marriage. Nor do I regret my divorce. In the forward to Jordan’s Haruko/Love Poems, published in 1994, Adrienne Rich asks, What is this thing called love, in the poems of June Jordan, artist, teacher, social critic, visionary of human solidarity? Rich provides the answer to her own question: First of all, it’s a motive; the power Che Guevara was trying to invoke in his much-quoted assertion: “At the risk of appearing ridiculous… the true revolutionary is moved by great feelings of love. But the motive is “directed by desire” in Jordan’s poetry, and desire is personal, concrete, particular and sensual… Yet, in her own words, June Jordan says: I am a stranger learning to worship the strangers around me Whoever you are Whoever I may become The idea of viewing oneself as a “stranger” can be linked to being an outsider. It also compels us to be aware of the worldwide movement of people, as a result of wars, natural disasters, and economic inequality. Oppression can push an entire people to the outer margins. In a 1981 interview with Karla Hammond, published in Kalliope, 4, No. 1, June Jordan made the following statement: I believe in love and the holiness of life. I have a purpose to serve, which is greater than my own being. Jordan’s comment reminds me of the one made on the Love Supreme album by John Coltrane: During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening, which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. I feel this has been granted through His grace. all praise to god In 1982, the Arab American Cultural Foundation released And Not Surrender: American Poets on Lebanon, edited by Kamal Boullata. This anthology of 19 poets (including me) was compiled in response to the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, during the months of June and September 1982. Jordan contributed four poems to the book. One was “Moving Towards Home,” a long poem that ended with the lines: I need to talk about living room where I can sit without grief without wailing aloud for my loved ones where I must not ask where is Abu Fadi because he will be there beside me I need to talk about living room because I need to talk about home I was born a Black woman and now I am become a Palestinian 52 against the relentless laughter of evil there is less and less living room and where are my loved ones? It is time to make our way home PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF © CHESTER HIGGINS JR/CHESTERHJIGGINS.COM In the poem “Ah, Momma,” Jordan described an intimate relationship with her mother, Mildred Jordan. She is a witness to her mother’s secrets. There is also a desire to fulfill her mother’s dreams and to make her proud.