Our Hemisphere, Poem by Q.R. Hand Jr., painted by Aaron Noble, Clarion Alley, 1993
Q.R. Hand Jr., an inventive, beloved Bay Area poet who chronicled the Black experience in the Americas, embraced radical politics and worked for years as a mental health counselor in the Mission, died of cancer on Thursday. He was 83.
Hand was best known locally for his frequent performances at cafes and bookstores, where he read his poems with a crackling intensity, sometimes performing alongside jazz musicians. In the national community of poets, Hand was widely respected for his published work, particularly “whose really blues,” a 2006 collection of poems published by Taurean Horn Press in Petaluma.
“It’s a Sistine Chapel of a book,” said Tongo Eisen-Martin, an acclaimed San Francisco poet who knew Hand for years and admired him for his craft and his decency. “He had almost a six-dimensional relationship to language,” Eisen-Martin said, calling Hand “a biographer of humanity, a really selfless genius.”