By Sean Olson, University Relations


A. Van Jordan, poet and faculty member at UNCG, continues to rack up accolades for his latest book of poetry, “M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A.”

The Cleveland Foundation has awarded the assistant professor in the MFA Writing Program the 2005 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction.

“M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A” (W.W. Norton & Co.), Jordan’s second book, charts the life of MacNolia Cox, an African-American girl who went to the national spelling bee in 1936 and was set to win the competition when she was given a word that was not on the pre-determined list of words – “nemesis.” The book charts MacNolia’s incredible talent, her great intellect and her tragic life.


The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards are awarded to “outstanding works that contribute to society’s understanding of racism or appreciation for the rich diversity of human cultures,” according to the Cleveland Foundation.
Other winners of the award are:
• Nonfiction: Geoffrey C. Ward for “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson” (Knopf)

• Fiction: Edwidge Danticat for “The Dew Breaker” (Knopf), held with A. Van Jordan.

• Lifetime Achievement Award: August Wilson, playwright.
“These works reinforce the many layers and complex nature of race and diversity in our history,” said jury chairman Henry Louis Gates Jr., the WEB DuBois Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. “They make important contributions in helping us gain a greater understanding of the need to respect both the humanity and individuality of others.”

Jordan’s first book, “Rise,” is a book of poetry about the transcendental nature of music that won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award.