Poet at hand
Story by Nancy Moen | Photo by Shane Epping
Monica Hand had a perfectly good career and loved living in New York City. So what possessed her to leave an impressive position at the U.S. Postal Service to start over with a writing career at an age when most people are planning for retirement?
Hand had always wanted the freedom to write, even during her 32-year career. Now, two years after retirement and at age 59, she’s on an intellectual journey as an MU doctoral student. The course of study will take five years.
It’s all worth it to Hand because her future is in poetry, the long-standing love of her life.
“I’ve been writing poetry since I was 10, whenever I could. I nurtured it. Now I’m feeding it full time,” she says.
Hand already has a published book of poetry to her credit, a prize winner named by Coldfront as one of the top 40 poetry books of 2012. Reviewers praise me and Nina as an expression of “contemporary blues that speaks to a woman’s creative challenges.”
The Boston Review has called Hand “a mature Langston Hughes in a hat,” a designation that may make her laugh, but, in reality, she can still recite from memory the poems of Langston Hughes she learned as a child. (And she often does wear a hat.)
Hand is in a good place, literally and figuratively, as she paces herself to balance her overwhelming desire to write with doctoral responsibilities. Taking one semester at a time, she wants to feed her intellectual appetite, study and teach.
Mostly she wants the time to be a poet.