Andria Nacina Cole read The Color Purple in 9th grade. There was no one to tell. She read Beloved in 11th. Shared the glamour and devastation of it with a chemistry professor. He nodded when her eyes got wide, but also when she cried. She did not read Sonia Sanchez until college, and Gayl Jones? She was 35 before she knew her. Also, along the way were: June Jordan, Lucille Clifton, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Edwidge Danticat, Ntozake Shange, Zadie Smith, Warsan Shire, Dorothy West, Paule Marshall, Zora Neale Hurston, Nikki Finney, Jamaica Kincaid, Toi Derricotte—the list is getting long and not nearly enough (it's missing Nayyirah Waheed, for example). Each writer tilted her some. Put her in her body a bit. Valerie Boyd, a biographer, made her pay better attention to her own chopped up, glorious, on time (right on time) speech. Every one gifted her a thing. And she used them, the things—the command of metaphor, the stripped down structure, the burdened structure, the tone achieved little word by little word—to write her own stories, which have been published in places like Ploughshares, The Feminist Wire and Fiction Circus.
What she has learned by practice and careful study has been supplemented, a wee bit, by degrees in writing from Morgan State and Johns Hopkins Universities. She has also earned a few awards, including five grants from the Maryland State Arts Council, one of which was the organization's top prize. She is the 2010 recipient of the Cohen Award, a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grantee, a Rubys Literary Awards artist, and a Baker Artist Award finalist. In 2017, Baltimore City Paper named her Best Storyteller.
In addition to her writing experience, she is a certified special education teacher. She taught middle and high school for 13 wonderful, difficult years, and still maintains relationships with many of her students. She has also taught a variety of English classes at the college level. Currently, she helps school communities resolve conflict and repair harm in her role as a restorative practices specialist.