Walt Whitman Birthplace Association 1988 Poet in Residence

June Jordan

 

June Jordan (1936 - 2002) was born in Harlem in 1936, Jordan was the child of West Indian immigrant parents, who raised her in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, where she began writing poetry at the age of seven. In her teens, she attended the Northfield School for Girls in Massachusetts, and in 1953 enrolled at Barnard College, where she would earn her B.A.

Jordan was active in the civil rights, feminist, antiwar and gay and lesbian rights movements, even as she became known as a writer. In 1967, after running poetry workshops for children in Harlem, Jordan began her teaching career at the City College of New York. She taught at Yale University and Sarah Lawrence College, and became a professor of English at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where she directed The Poetry Center. In 1988, she was appointed professor of African-American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she founded the influential poetry program Poetry For the People.

Jordan earned numerous honors and awards, including a 1969-1970 Rockefeller grant for creative writing, the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Writers Award (1995-1998), the Ground Breakers-Dream Makers Award from The Woman's Foundation (1994), the Chancellor's Distinguished Lectureship from the University of California at Berkeley, the PEN Center USA West Freedom to Write Award (1991) and a congressional citation for her outstanding contributions to literature, the progressive movement and the civil rights movement.

Jordan was also the author of more than twenty-five major works of poetry, fiction and essays, as well as numerous children's books, amongst other works. Her journalism was published widely in magazines and newspapers around the world, and she was a regular columnist for The Progressive.

Information taken from the poet’s website.

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