2019 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Nominee
“DiVida stands as a timeless presence burdened by the injustices of systemic racism. Her power is rooted in black women’s ability, born of necessity, to inhabit their bodies in multiple ways.”
Monica Hand is the author of DiVida (Alice James Books, 2018) and me and Nina (Alice James Books, 2012), winner of the 2010 Kinereth Gensler Award. After a thirty-two-year career with the U.S. Postal Service, she received an MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation from Drew University in 2011. In 2012 she moved to Columbia, Missouri, to pursue a PhD at the University of Missouri. Hand received a fellowship from Cave Canem and served as a founding member of the poetry collective Poets for Ayiti. She passed away in December 2016.
“DiVida: divided? DiVida: of life? The imaginary character who carries the name and sings her life is both DiVida and Sapphire, who sometimes replies to her musings, as one voice speaking for a universe of black women. Like syncopated masks, the voices of Hand’s book offer a new sense of double-consciousness. Her untimely death at the zenith of her career lends the last few poems, which anticipate death, a special fullness and poignancy.”
“Monica Hand was brave. She headed into language with an arsenal of knowledge, curiosity, rage, desire and came out with the spoils. DiVida is a collection showcasing her deep knowledge of American culture and contemporary poetics with her authoritative use of the Black vernacular, as she crosses boundaries of race, gender, class in search of a liberated self. That she riffs John Berryman’s Dream Songs is but one of her many transgressions. Orgasmic, self-lacerating, wicked-ass funny (oh Sapphire), these poems add to the powerful, blues driven truths of me and Nina. With this posthumous collection, Alice James has done her legacy well.”
—Patricia Spears Jones
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