This award was generously supported by Caroline and Tiger Williams. _
A. Van Jordan is a poet whose formally inventive work focuses on African American culture. Jordan borrows from the language of film as well as music and science in his poems. He has published four books of poetry. His collection M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A imagines the life of MacNolia Cox, who became the first black finalist in a national spelling bee competition in 1936, within the context of the Depression and racism in the United States.
M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, 2004; photo courtesy Julia Smith/Getty Images and W. W. Norton