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About this poet

A. Van Jordan was born on March 5, 1965, in Akron, Ohio. He received his BA in English literature from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, and his MA in communications from Howard University in Washington, D.C. While in Washington, D.C., Jordan began to attend poetry readings and became interested in writing poetry. In 1998, he earned his MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina.

Jordan has published four books of poetry: The Cineaste: Poems (W. W. Norton & Company, 2013); Quantum Lyrics (W. W. Norton & Company, 2007); M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A (W. W. Norton & Company, 2005), winner of an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award; and Rise (Tia Chucha Press, 2001), winner of the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award.

Jordan’s poetry is influenced by music, film, race, history, and pop culture. His most recent book, The Cineaste, marries his love of film with poetry in pieces that re-examine a wide range of seminal films such as Nosferatu (1922), The Homesteader (1919), Run Lola Run (1998), and Oldboy (2003) through the perspectives of both the voyeur and the character onscreen. In his review of The Cineaste, poet Terrance Hayes said, “With an imagination illuminated by empathy, Jordan inhabits the eye of the camera, the eye of the actor, and the ‘I’ of a viewer tethered to image and history. These terrific poems give shape to lives made of light.”

Jordan has been awarded the Whiting Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and a United States Artists Williams Fellowship. He is a professor of English at the University of Michigan and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Bibliography

The Cineaste: Poems (W. W. Norton & Company, 2013)
Quantum Lyrics (W. W. Norton & Company, 2007)
M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A (W. W. Norton & Company, 2005)
Rise (Tia Chucha Press, 2001)

Einstein Defining Special Relativity

A. Van Jordan, 1965

INSERT SHOT: Einstein’s notebook 1905—DAY 1: a theory that is based on two postulates (a) that the speed of light in all inertial frames is constant, independent of the source or observer. As in, the speed of light emitted from the truth is the same as that of a lie coming from the lamp of a face aglow with trust, and (b) the laws of physics are not changed in all inertial systems, which leads to the equivalence of mass and energy and of change in mass, dimension, and time; with increased velocity, space is compressed in the direction of the motion and time slows down. As when I look at Mileva, it’s as if I’ve been in a space ship traveling as close to the speed of light as possible, and when I return, years later, I’m younger than when I began the journey, but she’s grown older, less patient. Even a small amount of mass can be converted into enormous amounts of energy: I’ll whisper her name in her ear, and the blood flows like a mallet running across vibes. But another woman shoots me a flirting glance, and what was inseparable is now cleaved in two.

"Einstein Defining Special Relativity", from Quantum Lyrics by A. Van Jordan. Copyright © 2007 by A. Van Jordan. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

"Einstein Defining Special Relativity", from Quantum Lyrics by A. Van Jordan. Copyright © 2007 by A. Van Jordan. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

A. Van Jordan

A. Van Jordan

A. Van Jordan was born on March 5, 1965, in Akron, Ohio. He received his BA in English literature from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, and his MA in communications from Howard University in Washington, D.C. While in Washington, D.C., Jordan began to attend poetry readings and became interested in writing poetry. In 1998, he earned his MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina.

by this poet

poem
Because a razor cuts across a frame of film, 
I wince, squinting my eye, 
and because my day needs assembly 
to make sense of the scenes anyway, 
making a story from some pieces of truth, I go 
outside to gather those pieces.
Thousands of moments spooling out 
frames of mistakes in my day. 
As if anyone's to
poem

from (→) prep. 1. Starting at (a particular place or time): As in, John was from Chicago, but he played guitar straight from the Delta; he wore a blue suit from Robert Hall's; his hair smelled like coconut; his breath, like mint and bourbon; his hands felt like they were

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