In this essay, the author examines June Jordan's poetic invocations of violence in order to consider their implications for future abolitionist thought. Jordan uses violence in her poetry to envision ways of feeling and being that make the present impossible and unimaginable and thus make possible new ways of knowing. If antiblack, heteropatriarchial violence makes certain forms of thought impossible, then Jordan smashes “a hammer to his head” to open up other ways of knowing the present, past, and future. As she struggles to name the unspeakable violence of patriarchy, white supremacy, imperialism, war, antiblackness, apartheid, and racial capitalism—to reckon with their crushing and pervasive presence throughout the banality of her life and all life—she also imagines a new, unknowable world made possible by black feminist vengeance. The author argues that this turn to violence in Jordan's thinking indexes a black feminist methodology for breaking open alternative forms of thought that exceed the present in all its repetitious, circuitous, and novel forms of capture.

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