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Award-winning Poet A. Van Jordan to Speak at Hendrix

A. Van JordanCONWAY, Ark. (December 13, 2010) – Acclaimed poet A. Van Jordan will speak Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. in Reves Recital Hall.

His appearance is sponsored by the Robert and Lillian Drake Endowed Lectureship and the Hendrix English Department. For more information on the event, contact Dr. Alex Vernon, chair of the English Department, at (501) 450-1258.

Van Jordan is the author of Rise, published in 2001 by Tia Chucha Press, which won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award.

His second book, M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, published in 2004 by W.W. Norton & Co., was awarded an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was listed as one the Best Books of 2005 by The London Times. A collection of poems in a wide variety of forms, it tells the true story of MacNolia Cox, a thirteen-year-old African-American girl from Akron, Ohio, who made it to the National Spelling Bee in 1936 and lost by misspelling a word, not on the official list, which judges slipped into the contest. Jordan uses shifts in time and perspective and a montage of verse techniques to explore Macnolia’s life and family, the nature of societal erasure, and the workings of words.

Jordan was also awarded a Whiting Writers Award in 2005 and a Pushcart Prize in 2006. His third book of poems, Quantum Lyrics, was published in 2007, also by W.W. Norton & Co.

He is a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and a United States Artists Williams Fellowship and is a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Michigan.

The Robert and Lillian Drake Endowed Lectureship series at Hendrix College was established by Robert Y. Drake Jr. in memory of his parents. Drake taught Southern literature and creative writing at the University of Tennessee from 1965 until his retirement in 1999. While on sabbatical during the fall of 1982, Drake was a visiting professor at Hendrix. During his stay at Hendrix, which was funded by the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation, he also gave a public reading and lecture for the Bertie Wilson Murphy Symposium in Literature and Language. The affinity he developed for Hendrix as a visiting professor inspired him to establish the lectureship in the English Department. Past Drake Lecturers include poets Miller Williams, Donald Hall, and Aaron McCollough, and novelist Richard Ford.

Hendrix, founded in 1876, is a selective, residential, undergraduate liberal arts college emphasizing experiential learning in a demanding yet supportive environment. The college is featured in the 2010 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country’s best 371 colleges, was identified as the nation’s top “Up and Coming” liberal arts college for 2011 by U.S. News and World Report, and is ranked among 45 “Best Buy” colleges by the 2011 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit