on July 2, 2004
M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A is the story of MacNolia Cox, the first African-American to compete in a national spelling competition. Due to the racial injustice of her time, the judges used a word not on the official list and as a result she lost the competition. Although M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A is a collection of poetry, it is difficult to categorize it strictly as such because it is so much more. This poetic presentation is a history lesson, a documentary, a love story and a tragedy, all in one.
M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A is a very uniquely written book of poetry. It is the first story that I have read in the form of poetry and A. Van Jordan has captured her compelling story with great lyricism. Words alone can not describe the reading experience. This story and the poet's words moved me in unspeakable ways.
Reviewed by Aiesha Flowers
of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
on June 8, 2004
This is a wildly ambitious and moving collection, remarkable for its daring impurities: for the way Jordan trespasses the divide between the lyric and the narrative, the personal and the historical, always mixing and cutting the voice of the poet with so many other voices. M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A is a worthy succesor to Rita Dove's Thomas and Beulah and Ellen Bryant Voigt's Kyrie. If, like me, you are exhausted with young poets whose vision extends no further than their own navels, MACNOLIA is an antidote. These are powerful and necessary poems.
on June 9, 2004
yeats' advice to beware of poetry of "passive suffering" rings true with the (feigned) sentiments of this sophomoric effort. whereas Rita Dove's Thomas & Beulah derived from familial grounds, Van Jordan's hodgepodge hangs on its purported subject by a thin thread--unsure of it's direction and executed with a lackluster hand.
on June 11, 2004
I really liked this book of poems for its imagination, its lyrical intensity, and its daring strategy of mixing so many different forms, levels of intensity, into one major book. This book takes a lot of risks in its writing and tells a tremendously interesting and sad story, but there is hope in the end that this story is told.