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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 is the author of five books of poetry: When I Waked I Cried to Dream Again, forthcoming in 2023 from W. W. Norton and Company; 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 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 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Lannan Literary Award, and the Whiting Writers' Award, as well as fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and United States Artists, among others. He is a professor at Stanford University.
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)