Monica A. Hand. Alice James, $15.95 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-1-938584-74-9
In her second collection, published posthumously, Hand (Me and Nina) explores the conflicting roles that black women must play in order to live in a white-dominated society. Introducing readers to the collection’s eponymous central figure, DiVida, Hand writes of her as “a terrestrial body float/ ocean the tsunami broke.” 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. Hand’s crackling language emphasizes this survival tactic of double consciousness and shape-shifting through DiVida’s alternate persona, Sapphire. While DiVida feels like “fractured pieces of mythology” in her desire to fit in with white society, Sapphire expresses herself in ways that DiVida feels unable to: “I was never going to take it lying down/ Sapphire is not the name of a slave.” That internal tug-of-war plays out over the course of the collection in such situations as a work picnic with the boss and colleagues, where “DiVida’s hair starts to turn like Medusa/ Sapphire on the sidelines—a dry crack in wet concrete/ You’d never catch me at a picnic this time of year.” Hand depicts black womanhood as a constant juggling act between invisibility and hypervisibility, with remarkable aplomb. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/19/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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