I had the pleasure of interviewing poet A. Van Jordan for The American Prospect, in a conversation that was as wide-ranging and fascinating as the headline, "Where Physics, Poetry, and Politics Collide" indicates.
From the introduction to the interview:
"A. Van Jordan is the author of Rise and M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, the last of which imagined the life of MacNolia Cox, the first black finalist in the National Spelling Bee. In that highly praised volume, Jordan played with the written forms of film, jazz and blues to tell the story of how Cox's life was shaped by racism and poverty in 1936 Ohio.
"That same fearless hybridization comes into Jordan's newest poetry collection, Quantum Lyrics. Rather than follow one character's story, this book explores cultural identity by moving among historical, fictional, and autobiographical figures. The likes of Albert Einstein and Richard Feynmen rub shoulders with comic book superheroes, which in turn are juxtaposed with narrators that tell tales resembling the author's own life. Jordan revisits the pain of racism, recounting Einstein's letter to Harry Truman in support of the Anti-Lynching Law because 'trees need only to drop leaves to prove gravity.' He also discusses his own experiences with racism, describing how he was pulled over while driving the slow roads of the South by a police officer who was surprised to find out that this black man was a poetry instructor. Scenes from the films The Battleship Potemkin and Triumph of the Will are spliced in, ultimately building a documentary atmosphere as Jordan creates spaces where physics and poetry, comic books and jazz, memory and loss, come together."
Which is why you'll find the extended interview--which moves from genre hybrids to artistic genius --after the jump.