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June Jordan's Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint [Paperback]

by Lauren Muller, The Blueprint Collective, June Jordan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 17, 1995 0415911680 978-0415911689
Her vision and politics have set her at the forefront of contemporary poetry and her work has a far-reaching impact on all poets and readers of poetry today. A dedicated and inspired teacher, her innovative and highly successful poetry program, Poetry for the People, has recently emerged as a national phenomenon.

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This lively "blueprint" (guidebook) represents collaborative efforts of the Poetry for the People?60 or more multicultural students under the leadership of June Jordan at the University of California, Berkeley. Describing how-tos of grassroots poetry programs and staunchly pledged to current politically correct tenets of diversity, in addition to printing student poems, this anthology reviews how to take readings and workshops into the community and cultivate "empowerment by affirming that everybody has something to offer." Chapters discuss these "cultural literacies": African American; Asian American; Caribbean; Chicana/o, Latina/o American; children's; deaf; gay and lesbian; Irish and Irish American; Native American; and women's. This celebration of "explorative" poetry as a communal, oral art form is an easy-to-use, timely reference for community college, public libraries, and writers' centers.?Frank Allen, Northampton Community Coll., Tannersville, Pa.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.


This celebration of explorative poetry as a communal, oral art form is an easy-to-use, timely reference for community college, public libraries and writers' centers. -- Library Journal
June Jordan's Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint does for would-be writers what The Anarchist's Cookbook did for the neophyte bomb-makers. This step-by-step guide . . . explains how to teach, write, critique, perform, advertise, and publish poetry. The book essentially dusts poetry off and puts it in hip, new '90s threads--and shows what a tremendous difference a good teacher can make. -- Washington City Paper
. . . a handbook that serves the interests of poetry and community. . . . may this good and useful book find its way into the hands of anyone who cares about poetry and its future. -- Oregonian
. . . documents the history of this unique workshop and reading collective of the University of California at Berkeley. . . . this freewheeling guidebook looks at poetry as a populist, highly diverse activity. -- Publishers Weekly
Poetry does matter and does have relevence where it matters, in our homes and in our hearts. Jordan's manual is a step in the right direction towards restoring poetry to the altars of our personal lives. It matters more than ever, especially here and now. -- Joy Harjo
This is a book of life: of energy, passion and hard, hands-on work in the name of poetry and of community. 'Without fear of being happy,' June Jordan, master poet-teacher, and her students offer this practical guide, inspiration and invitation to people and poets everywhere. -- Adrienne Rich
How can students find a voice and the vulnerability and courage to proclaim it to the world we live in? Poetry for the People looks beyond canonized poets to find specific languages that speak to young Americans. Poetry for the People gives us guidelines for intelligent criticism and shows us how to rouse activist enthusiasm beyond the classroom. -- Allen Ginsberg
This celebration of explorative poetry as a communal, oral art form is an easy-to-use, timely reference for community college, public libraries, and writers' centers. -- Library Journal

Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (October 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415911680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415911689
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Lauren Muller, editor, gently persuades a talented crew from June Jordan's Poetry for the People classes at UC Berkely, to tell the rest of us how they do it--run poetry workshops and readings that literally transform their participants and audiences. The book provides college and communityteachers with an accessible plan for poetry workshops, including syllabii, bibliographies, thoughtful meditations on the teaching and writingof poetry, and a rich sampling of poems. It's a tribute not only to the power of the word but also to the solid principle that teaching, like popular theater, is one of the democratic art forms that can revolutionize the way we think and how we live in community.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fitting Memorial to a Truly Great Woman April 26, 2005
I stumbled on this book when I was looking for new resources for good poems to read for Black History Month. Flipping through it, I found it instantly engaging, so I had no problem buying it on the spot.

It went on the stack of 'next time you're looking for something interesting to read' and had to wait for me to finish a few books of poetry, as well as Ted Kooser's Poetry Home Repair Manual. I felt some sort of irrational loyalty to the new Poet Laureate. But Kooser is good; very good. He made me think through everything that I write -- carefully, critically -- and my spirit was quickly wilting. I needed an antidote; or, more precisely, a complement, a little yin to counterbalance the substantial yang of Kooser's superb book. June Jordan was the very thing.

Reading it is a joy. Thinking through how to teach people to write poetry that speaks to the truth of their world, their experience, and how to bring it to the public -- all the grub with the glory, so to speak -- with June Jordan and her students was pure pleasure. And I couldn't argue with the results -- which are generously sprinkled throughout the book, with an extra dollop at the end. Poetry, the craft and how to sell it.

I have to mention that one thing that initially attracted me to Poetry for the People was the memory that Jordan had recently died (in 2002, I believe). I'm in the habit of reading a book by an author when they die as a sort of memorial, an extended meditation on their contribution and general mutability, if you will. We lost a great one when we lost June Jordan; but she was responsible enough to leave a substantial legacy, so the net loss is negligible. It's ours because she wanted it to be.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read October 10, 2001
Even if you don't teach poetry writing, you will love this book if you're a writer of politically conscious poetry or if you care about how good poetry gets written. With the popularity of Slam poetry these days, this is a very useful primer. It includes poems from different cultural backgrounds about a range of racial, social, and gender issues. It also provides lists of suggested readings that go beyond the narrow range of poetry books found in mainstream bookstores.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Puts "the people" back into poetry August 6, 1999
By A Customer
This book, based on the experience of students and poets involved with June Jordan's popular UCal/Berkeley poetry courses, is a handbook for people who want to put poetry in the mouths and pens of "The People," everybody -- whether in the university or in a community setting such as a coffeehouse or church. The "white male" poetry of the "canon" is here put in its rightful place as but one of the several American poetry traditions, which also include African American, Caribbean, Native American, Asian American, Chicano/a, gay and lesbian, women's, and Irish American poetry, for which beginning bibliographies are supplied, as is a sample syllabus and an anthology of student poetry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry for the People March 18, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an outline for how to recreate the late June Jordan's revolutionary poetry class at UC Berkeley. From how to organize, to how to pick a curriculum and run a workshop, to how to kick off a reading and publish a class chapbook, this volume recreates the process that will allow you to teach poetry to a broad cross-section of the population. And not just at a university, either: the book describes how this same process, with minor amendments, was used in public schools and in an area church. I can imagine this same blueprint being used to teach poetry in a community center, a long-term care home, or a prison with similar good effect.

And even if you're not inclined to teach, there is a great deal of information in this book that will help you learn how to write. Jordan inserts her guidelines for revision, self-critique, self-publicity, and other skills a working poet will need. Whether you want to work with others or alone, this book will open your eyes to the ways poets improve their art.

There is even a healthy selection of poetry that poets and teachers of poetry should take a look at. Categorized according to racial, social, sexual, and other lines, it will allow you to build a library that represents a cross-section of verse as it is written in America today. The list is a little out of date, having been written in 1995, but if you have access to a good library, or even time to look around, you should be able to bring the selection up to date for your own writing.

The book isn't without problems. In the reading selection, the "White Male" section seems to stop with the death of Robert Frost, as though no white men have written poetry, or none worth mentioning, for the last 45 years.
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