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Monica Hand's me and Nina is a beautiful book by a soul survivor In these poems she sings deep songs of violated intimacy and the hard work of repair The poems are unsentimental blood red and positively true note for note like the singing of Nina Simone herself Hand has written a moving deeply satisfying and unforgettable book—Elizabeth AlexanderIn an intimate conversation with the High Priestess of Soul Monica A Hand surveys the places and moods of alienation through poems that are as musical and stylistically diverse as Nina Simone's work Hand readily embraces a mass hypnosis style putting a spell on us with her intensely passionate cries and commitment to embracing both tragedy and exuberance in these insightful poemsFrom Dear Nina I am not recessiondepressionoppressioncompressioncrooked linebroken linepolka dotparking lotor spot I am a Gift from God I know that I am an un keptsolo songMonica A Hand is a poet and book artist currently living in Harlem New York Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Aunt Chloe Black Renaissance Noire The Sow's Ear Drunken Boat Beyond the Frontier African American Poetry for the 21st Century Gathering Ground A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade and elsewhere She holds an MFA in poetry and poetry in translation from Drew University and is a founding member of Poets for Ayiti


10 thoughts on “me and Nina

  1. says:

    Poems that sing Poems about strength


  2. says:

    This is definitely the best book of contemporary poetry I've read in a long time Monica Hand's poems evoke the voices and rhythms of some of my favorite African American women poets Lucille Clifton whom she eulogizes in a poem here Sonia Sanchez and Gwendolyn Brooks but her aesthetic is extremely fresh and energetic One of my favorite things about this book is Hand's facility with formal experimentation Since this is a book about Nina we expect something that merges jazz and blues and classical music but Hand surpasses those expectations She incorporates fixed forms including an absolutely breathtaking villanelle The Curtis Institute Speaks and experiments with free verse syntax sometimes allowing one sentence to flow into the next without punctuation or capitalization The result is flow seriously incredible flow of music and voice These poems at first seem straightforward and simple the way a good performer makes musicianship seem effortless but they are layered with history unreuited love and pride not to mention thoughtful and deliberate craft


  3. says:

    The world continues to remember Nina Simone formerly Eunice Kathleen Waymon as a storyteller through songs whose body of work created a legacy of compassion empowerment and liberation At the time of Simone’s death on April 21 2003 she was already among the 20th century’s most extraordinary artistsBut to poet Monica Hand this song griot was something else Reading Hand’s poems it’s clear that Nina Simone is the center around which a carousel of memories revolves in Hand’s new collection of poems me and Nina Alice James Books 2012 And I have to agree with poet Terrance Hayes calling this book “a debut fiercely illuminated by declaration and song” Read the full review at


  4. says:

    Monica is a wonderful poet working on her doctorate in poetry


  5. says:

    I liked a lot of the poems in the second half of this book Resistance Black is Beautiful Things That Stink Patches of Black Snow Worry Beads Jim Crow and dear Nina


  6. says:

    reviewed on Ron Slate's The Sea Wall