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The Cineaste: Poems Hardcover – April 1, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0393239157 ISBN-10: 0393239152 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

From the French for “film enthusiast,” The Cineasteblends the musicality of Jordan’s debut, Rise (2001), with the cinematic passages of his Quantum Lyrics (2009). Here Jordan continues his look at race in the U.S., this time through the lens of 35mm filmmaking. Poems titled “The Great Train Robbery (Edwin S. Porter, 1903),” “Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989),” and “Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks, 1975)” give new meaning to “moving pictures” as they explore a liminal space between silver screen and rapt audience, both worlds alight with racial tension. And not every poem is homage. In a sequence of linked sonnets, Jordan juxtaposes the plights of early black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux and Jewish lynching victim Leo Frank. Jordan treats this history with characteristic dexterity and the narcotic clarity of a camera that “repeats / the eye’s questions of what is acting and what is life.” Jordan’s shimmering lyrics reflect our fascination with starlets and Technicolor, the ruinous heat of Hollywood ever encroaching into the frame. --Diego Báez


The Cineaste is the announcement of the birth of an entirely new poetics. A. Van Jordan brings the art of film and the art of poetry together in a virtuoso act of passion. This work goes beyond memorable speech into an articulation of the spirit, the hunger, the enchantment and terror of a nation and a time. In unforgettably resonant pieces this poetry creates a whole. This is one of our most important poets doing perhaps his own most important work of a lifetime.” (Laura Kasischke)

“For several books now, A. Van Jordan has been proving himself master of the dramatic monologue. His skill is especially dazzling in The Cineaste as he turns to cinema, that other realm of persona and projection. With an imagination illuminated by empathy, Jordan inhabits the eye of the camera, the eye of the actor, and the ‘I’ of a viewer tethered to image and history. These terrific poems give shape to lives made of light.” (Terrance Hayes)

“[O]ffers sharp ruminations on films both familiar (Blazing Saddles) and relatively obscure (Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali).” (Thom Geier - Entertainment Weekly)

“Brilliant… Every piece denotes feeling—and this is what moves us forward.” (Grace Cavalieri - Washington Independent Review of Books)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393239152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393239157
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #804,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
A. Van Jordan’s The Cineaste is part John A. Williams, and part Roger Ebert in verse. It is poet as critic and narrator; Jordan is in the story and out, but as always, is lyrically solid, and passionate, precise in words and story, using film, as an entrance into an ever shifting journey into life and lives that illuminate but are lost to most of us. Jordan’s poetry in The Cineaste mixes history and memoir and creative impulse into a steady concoction of imaginary talk on the page reading like script but singing like song. No kind of film it seems escapes Jordan’s canvas, all of them are of use, and Oscar Micheaux, the celebrated African-American filmmaker of a bygone era gets extra special treatment by Jordan, proving again Jordan’s appreciation for the small details and his steady love of the nation’s lost heroes in his always captivating art.
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By McChelisa on February 2, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Van Jordan never ceases to amaze me with his casually beautiful and accessible poems.
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