Author's Forum Presents: The Cineaste: Poems: A Conversation with A. Van Jordan and Peter Ho Davies
A. Van Jordan (associate professor of English) will read a short excerpt from his new collection of poetry, The Cineaste, followed by a conversation with Peter Ho Davies (professor of English), and ending with audience Q & A.
About the book: A. Van Jordan, an acclaimed American poet and the author of three previous volumes, “demonstrates poetry’s power to be at once intimate and wide-ranging” (Robert Pinsky, Washington Post Book World). In this penetrating new work he takes us with him to the movies, where history reverberates and characters are larger than life. The Cineaste is an entrancing montage of poems, wherein film serves as the setting for contemplative trances, memoir, and pure fantasy. At its center is a sonnet sequence that imagines the struggle of pioneer filmmaker Oscar Micheaux against D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, which Micheaux saw not only as racist but also as the start of a powerful new art form. “Sharpen the focus in your lens, and you / Sharpen your view of the world; you can see / How people inhabit space in their lives, / How the skin of Negroes and whites both play / With light.” Scenes and characters from films such as Metropolis, Stranger than Paradise, Last Year at Marienbad, The Red Shoes, and The Great Train Robbery also come to luminous life in this vibrant new collection. The Cineaste is an extended riff on Jordan’s life as a moviegoer and a brilliant exploration of film, poetry, race, and the elusiveness of reverie.
A. Van Jordan, professor of English at U-M, is the author of four collections: Rise, which won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award (Tia Chucha Press, 2001); M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, (2005), which was listed as one the Best Books of 2005 by The London Times; Quantum Lyrics, (2007); and The Cineaste, (2013), W.W. Norton & Co. Jordan has been awarded a Whiting Writers Award, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and a Pushcart Prize. He is a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and a United States Artists Williams Fellowship.
Peter Ho Davies, professor of English language and literature at U-M, is the author of the novel The Welsh Girl (2007) and the story collections The Ugliest House in the World (1997) and Equal Love (2000). His work has appeared in Harpers, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The Washington Post and Chicago Tribune, among others, and his short fiction has been widely anthologized.
The Author's Forum is a collaboration between the U-M Institute for the Humanities, University Library, Great Lakes Literary Arts Center, & Ann Arbor Book Festival.