June Jordan on writing

“Poetry is about telling the truth. So the hardest thing you can try to do is to take the currency of language that is made available to us and to try to individuate it so that it really conveys what you mean, or feel, or see, or know…

I don’t really have an audience in mind when I write poetry. I just write what it is and hope to the extent that I succeed that I will be able to make a profound connection with a lot of different kinds of people. I hope anyway. So that in some way, people who feel connected to what I write are spoken for… I don’t want to speak for other people, I would not presume to do that, but in trying to say what I think, and assuming that I am a pretty ordinary person when it gets down to rock bottom, I hope I will be able to make a connection through language that other people will be able to use for themselves, ordinary or otherwise.

I think as long as you try to be clear, and I always try to be clear, people will get it. I may have a word in my writing that somebody may not know, but that’s just a word, and that’s it. I think mostly my language is extremely straightforward, and I have worked on it quite a bit. It is not academic… I’m not writing for the academy. I don’t give a shit about the academy. I’m writing for people who read… I try to use words, whether in prose or poetry, that people can understand, that make them feel in an intense way. I’m a writer, that’s what I do.”

— June Jordan (via I Know What the Red Clay Looks Like)