Author A. Van Jordan always had a passion for writing, but it wasn’t until college he realized he could become a published author.
“I tamped that passion down,” the poet said.
Jordan was the 123 speaker in the American Book Review Reading Series. He presented in the Alcorn Auditorium at the University of Houston-Victoria Thursday afternoon to about 80 students and faculty.
“American Book Review is a national treasure, and I’m honored to be here,” Jordan noted.
In college, Jordan knew he wanted to be an English major, but a professor inspired him to become a writer. She was a tough professor, he said. As the only black student in the department, Jordan said she saw him for who he was and encouraged his art.
“She loved my work and my writing,” he said.
Now, Jordan teaches at the University of Michigan and published four collections of poetry since 2001 when his first collection “Rise” was released.
Jordan read several poems from his most recent collection, “The Cineaste.” In it, his poetry draws inspiration from films. He also explores alternate endings or integrating himself as the protagonist in the film, he said.
“The Red Balloon” is one of the films Jordan drew inspiration.
He had those in the crowd who had seen the 1956 short film raise their hands. About 10 people raised their hands, he said that wasn’t enough and urged the others to watch the film.
A. Van Jordan reads a poem inspired by the film Red Balloon. He is the 123 speaker in the American Book Review series. He presented Thursday afternoon. pic.twitter.com/JTmyUwzMDO— Samantha Douty (@SamanthaDouty) October 24, 2019
Jordan uses his poetry to understand other art forms like film and art. He said he can go to an art museum and see a static piece of work and create a conversation between it and his poetry.
“It’s a good way to engage other art forms,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to engage an art form in a different way.”
During the Q&A portion, Jordan discussed his writing process. As a graduate student, he was required to complete a writing piece in two weeks – which he requires of his graduate students. Now, that seems impossible, he said.
“I’m a pretty slow writer,” he said. “I never feel it’s done.”
He said even while he was reading his poetry Thursday afternoon, he was editing them in his head.
UHV communications junior Lorin Walker, 20, said Jordan’s perspective on film and art was interesting. She said she will do more of that moving forward.
“It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who thinks in a certain way,” Walker said.
UHV creative writing sophomore Dominique Cavazos, 19, agreed with Walker. She said she enjoys films and seeing the conversation between art forms was interesting.
Cavazos said Jordan’s writing process resonated with her as well. As a writer, she understands the feeling of constant editing.
“There’s no certain way you have to write something,” she said. “Nothing may seem done, and that’s OK.”