This was the second book I got while I was in Birmingham a few weeks back. I grabbed this first within my first few steps in the store because I saw June Jordan’s name. It was finally something familiar in a foreign, Southern city. I’d read her poetry collection Things I Do in the Dark and her novel His Own Where and knew her well enough to know to get anything with her name on it lol.
Civil Wars actually mentions both of those books too in the narrative of things. The whole book is a collection of essays, plus her explaining how and why these certain pieces came to be. Reasons like: no one black was reviewing her book, she started teaching at a university, she ran a writing group for kids. Sometimes I wished her narratives before the essays explaining what was going on could have been longer. That voice was helpful and informed. It was her now, writing the book, looking at her writing.
I really liked what Jordan wrote about the validity of black English, her teaching philosophy and experiences, and her poetry. I also just like her. She is fighting forward feministly, on the front lines of activism and academia. She critiques bad books and wonders how to be friends with someone who is conscious of race and class but not sexuality. Like what do we do in the world of imperfection? It feels like her answer is to write through it, be there for the kids, and keep up with the community.
Best line: At this point in time, I refuse nothing. I am concerned to keep myself open and aware of all that I can. (June Jordan p 129)