Adrienne Rich, June Jordan: bracketing war

March 27,  2013

Adrienne Rich wrote the intro to the collected poems, June Jordan’s, talking mostly about meter, sound patterns, vernacular riffs.

Of “March Song,” she writes: “Here she breaks what is actually a dactylic metrical line so that the beat is undermined and countered by the line-breaks: a subtle disorienting of form and expectation.”   Jordan’s poetic voice is both murmur and manifesto: “compelling, blandishing, outraged and outrageous, tender and relentless with the trust that her words matter, that someone is listening and ready for them.”

The poem is about Beirut, where “the game is to tear/ up the whole Hemisphere/ into pieces of children/and patches of sand.”  Rich herself has written passionately about this part of the world, but it seems right that, for this occasion, there should be no mention of it.

And Rich?  Who would write that last and first intro for her?  Too many candidates here, but here are some lines by Jordan, written for someone else, that Rich might have liked: “Supposing we could just go on and on as two/ voracious in the days apart as well as when/ we side by side (the many ways we do/ that) well! I would consider then/ perfection possible, or else worthwhile/ to think about.”

Something on the other side of war — yes, the two have that in common.

About wcd2

Professor of English and American Studies
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