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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Nina Simone Looming Large


Monica A. Hand
me and Nina by Monica A. Hand

Hi.  I’m reposting a post by my mom.  It concerns a great poet by the name of Monica Hand, who I got to see and hear at the AWP conference in Chicago.  Do support her campaign.  Here it is.

Nina Always Looming Large

By Octavia McBride-Ahebee

Jazz reigns supremely in my family home.   I had many momentous occasions to see, with my father and brothers, live performances of our best jazz artists.  One such occasion was when my dad and I saw Nina Simone at the now defunct Chestnut Street Cabaret, in Philadelphia.  A fantastically long line of her fans wrapped around 38th Street onto Filbert and while they waited for doors to open, they shared their Nina Simone stories.  These were tales not only of Nina’s concerts and her wonderfully singular editorials which ranged from indictments on the music business to charges that racism and sexism were still running amok in our country, but they were tales of a more intimate dimension.  Most of those side-walk shared vignettes were about where people were in their personal development when Nina so wonderfully, so unabashedly, so melodically blasted the world with her take on things.  It was as if Nina’s songs served to document their lives and they were there for that concert not only to hear her, but to continue on their journey with her serving as a pivotal backdrop in illuminating the truth of their lives.
This brings us to poet Monica Hand and her new poetry collection, me and Nina, which perfectly exemplifies all of the above.   Poet Tyehimba Jess said of this collection and of Hand:  “Monica A. Hand sings us a crushed velvet requiem of Nina Simone. She plumbs Nina’s mysterious bluesline while recounting the scars of her own overcoming. Hand joins the chorus of shouters like Patricia Smith and Wanda Coleman in this searchlight of a book, bearing her voice like a torch for all we’ve gained and lost in the heat of good song.”

Not only do I encourage you to purchase this book, but I invite you-TODAY- to support Hand in her immediate project, which is raising funds to get her to England, so she can participate in the Keats Festival in June.  With the advent of fundraising platforms like Kickstarter and Indigogo, we can become patrons of the arts for a minimal contribution; but it’s a contribution combined with others that has a resounding impact.

Here is the link to a video of Hand reciting one of my favorites poems from me and Nina as well information about her fundraising efforts and how you can contribute: http://www.indiegogo.com/meandNina

You can order the me and Nina from here as well: http://alicejamesbooks.org/pages/book_page.php?bookID=164


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