Pub. Date:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A: Poems

M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A: Poems

by A. Van Jordan
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"Jordan is a wizard at capturing vernacular in both conventional forms and his own invention." —Black Issues Book Review

In 1936, teenager MacNolia Cox became the first African American finalist in the National Spelling Bee Competition. Supposedly prevented from winning, the precocious child who dreamed of becoming a doctor was changed irrevocably. Her story, told in a poignant nonlinear narrative, illustrates the power of a pivotal moment in a life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393327649
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 12/17/2005
Pages: 144
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

A. Van Jordan is the author of Rise, M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, and Quantum Lyrics. Among other awards, he has received the Whiting Award, the Annisfield-Wolf Book Award, the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award, and the Pushcart Prize. A professor of English at the University of Michigan, he lives in Ann Arbor.

Table of Contents

Fade In
"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy"15
John Montiere answer to question one22
The Moment Before He Asks MacNolia Out on a Date23
Meeting John Montiere25
Wedding Night29
Looking for Work32
Red Ball Express34
In Service36
John Montiere answer to question two38
Jesse Owens, 196339
When MacNolia Greases My Hair43
John Montiere answer to question three45
"One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer"48
Elegy to My Son50
I'm Trying52
Scenes from My Scrapbook56
This Life58
The Night Richard Pryor Met Mudbone60
Death Letter Blues Ghazal66
Time Reviews The Ziegfeld Follies Featuring Josephine Baker, 193683
Asa Philip Randolph89
Green Pastures92
Akron Spelling Bee, April 22, 193696
On Stage100
MacNolia Backstage with Fats Waller And Bill Robinson at the RKO Palace Theater104
My Dream of Charon108
Details Torn from MacNolia's Diary109
National Spelling Bee Championship Montage112
N-e-m-e-s-i-s Blues118
In Allan Rohan Crite's School's Out119
My One White Friend120
Covering the Spelling Bee121
MacNolia's Dream of Shirley Temple
Fade Out133

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M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A: Poems 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, about an African American spelling bee whiz-kid, is a compelling, heart-grabbing use of actual history origami-ed with the music of poetry. This collection takes the factual accounting of MacNolia Cox Montiere and orchestrates it with original imaginings and charged reveries that challenge the reader to stand and hear, to witness, the intimacies of a young bright girl on the jagged-sharp wrong-end of racial attitudes during the Depression. Van Jordan is everything a great historical fiction writer should be¿he just does it wearing the hat of a poet. Van Jordan has crafted a phenomenal work utilizing historically significant issues¿and, unfortunately, issues still front-and-center in our current times. Some will read this stunning creation and comment on How Far We've Come. Others of us will sigh with regret, mournfully acknowledging how closely¿too closely¿this story mirrors those of our nightly news, our communities, even now. Get M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A today. Kick back, maybe put on some Earl Hines, some Billie Holiday. Slip yourself in the freshly-shined shoes, the new hand-made fancy dress of MacNolia¿listen to the tip-tapping of her soles across the stage. Feel that silver-tinged hum of adrenaline? Listen to her confidence as she calls out the letters to words that (mostly) live in other people's lives. Drink in her elation, swallow her heartache. Marvel at how her disillusions with life, with the concept of fairness and equality¿mirror water-colored shades of your own, of all our own. Bear witness. She deserves that much at least. Don't we all? Van Jordan is a poet that has the power to stretch minds, to turn hearts, with his haunting portrayals. This is why I read contemporary poetry.