Hands for Language


In this versatile collection, a fifteen-year-old American girl of color takes us on a surprising journey as she explores the currently urgent issues of transnationalism, migration, language, family, and culture. Beautiful and inspiring, these remarkably mature and thoughtful poems trace the author’s own path to self-realization and discovery; in the process of reading them inevitably we come to our own surprising discoveries.

“Uniquely written in a distinct voice, Menon is a bright new voice for our time. … She’s one to watch.”
Ms. Magazine

“Sixteen-year-old Menon is particularly strong when she is narrating specific moments, such as buying vegetables for the first time in English, and when she is writing about her anger and dislocation…the book is a solid debut…”
–Kirkus Reviews

“For Menon, her “tongue is a battleground”, but the book itself is about much more. Language becomes a focal point for her larger narrative. Hands for Language tells a story of a child born/raised in America whose family immigrated from South India and dis/connection she feels to these places.”

“Menon’s poems are as well crafted as those written by one twice her age with an equally-impressive and diverse backlog of publication. An exploration of what it means to be a young woman of color in America, Hands for Language is a deep dive into the joys, sorrows, and challenges met by straddling the white world and the land of her birth.”
India Currents

Hands for Language layers mythology atop personal experience to create an impasto effect, a canvas toward which the reader must step closer and closer in order to fully appreciate its artistry. … In plumbing these allusions, we meet Menon on her own terms: a second-language poet who has personal experience with the communal griefs of belonging to more than one place, and who will gather up the fragments into a collage to show us what it is like.”
Ruminate Magazine


Ages 15+

Publication Date: May 2020

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-77415-008-5
Page size: 5.5″ x 8.25″
96 pages

eBook ISBN: 978-1-77415-009-2

Photo of Uma Menon

Uma Menon was born in Winter Park, Florida, where she attended Winter Park High school. She is the 2019–2020 Youth Fellow of the International Human Rights Art Festival. Hands for Language is her first published book and was shortlisted for the 2019 International Erbacce Prize. In the fall of 2020, she will begin attending Princeton University.