poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

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)

Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog)

A. Van Jordan, 1965
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 blame, 
as if anyone could interpret the colliding
images, again and again, dragging
my imagination behind me,
I begin assembling. 
I don't know anything, so I seek
directions, following the path 
of ants from your palm, out 
the apartment door to 
a beach. Is this where I'm 
supposed to ask if my hands on you
bend some light around shade? Maybe
I'm not ready for the answer. They say
art imitates what we can sculpt or write 
or just see when we turn ourselves 
inside out. I can't turn my eye away
from the sight of failure. The rain pelts rooftops.
I listen to the song, thinking 
when the sun comes back,
beating down the door
in my head, I'll salvage whatever sits
still long enough for me to render,
before anyone knows what really happened.

Copyright © 2010 by A. Van Jordan. Used by permission of the author.

Copyright © 2010 by A. Van Jordan. Used by permission of the author.

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
(Park Chan-Wook, 2003)
If one rainy night you find yourself
leaving a phone booth, and you meet a man
with a lavender umbrella, resist
your desire to follow him, to seek
shelter from the night in his solace.
Later, don't fall victim to the Hypnotist's
narcotic of clarity, which proves
a
poem
R&B

 

Click the icon above to listen to this audio poem.

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