things lovely and dangerous still is inspired by and for the great American poet June Jordan (1936 – 2002). In both her writings and her work as an educator and humanitarian, Jordan battled injustice and intolerance in the most intimate layers of the heart and at the outermost edges of the earth. The film things lovely and dangerous still incorporates the text of Jordan’s poems with images of exterior street life and interior moments of the people in the filmmaker’s life, as well as images of the civil rights movement and things done in the dark. It was constructed as a silent film for trumpet and drum.
I had studied with June in her Poetry for the People workshop at UC Berkeley. Upon her death, I returned to much of her poetry and was once again struck by the conviction and beauty of her text. Her unflinching and graceful demands for a better world were intimately intertwined with her personal accounts and celebration of love. A world in which love can live and flourish is a world worth fighting for, and it is this love that inspires the battle for and expectations of a better existence and justice for all.
The film incorporates the text from a number of her poems, mostly culled from Things That I Do In The Dark, Selected Poems 1954-1977, (Beacon Press, 1981), Haruko Love Poems, (Virago Press, March, 1994), and Passion, New Poems 1977-1980, (Beacon Press, 1980). The film is loosely broken up into four sections incorporating the different themes of her poetry. Most of the images originated in Los Angeles, where I was living at the time, although there are a few images from the Bay Area as well. Although originally created for live accompaniment by trumpet and drums, the film has been performed with a number of live instrumental and recorded soundtracks by musicians such as Wadada Leo Smith, Steve Smith, Kris Tiner, and Silian Rail.
“things lovely and dangerous still” (silent film for trumpet and drums, 2003, 15 min.) is available for purchase on DVD and is also available for screenings (16mm or dvd, preferably with live musical accompaniment).