Head Off & Split: Poems
Nikky Finney Northwestern University Press, 2011 Library of Congress PS3556.I53H43 2010 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Winner, 2011 National Book Award for Poetry
Winner, 2012 GCLS Award for Poetry
Winner, 2012 SIBA Book Award for Poetry
Nominee, 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry
The poems in Nikky Finney's breathtaking new collection Head Off & Split sustain a sensitive and intense dialogue with emblematic figures and events in African American life: from civil rights matriarch Rosa Parks to former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, from a brazen girl strung out on lightning to a terrified woman abandoned on a rooftop during Hurricane Katrina. Finney's poetic voice is defined by an intimacy that holds a soft yet exacting eye on the erotic, on uncanny political and family events, like her mother's wedding waltz with South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond, and then again on the heartbreaking hilarity of an American president's final State of the Union address.
Artful and intense, Finney's poems ask us to be mindful of what we fraction, fragment, cut off, dice, dishonor, or throw away, powerfully evoking both the lawless and the sublime.
Nikky Finney Northwestern University Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3556.I53R53 2013 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
In Rice, her second volume of poetry, Nikky Finney explores the complexity of rice as central to the culture, economy, and mystique of the coastal South Carolina region where she was born and raised. The prized Carolina Gold rice paradoxically made South Carolina one of the most oppressive states for slaves and also created the remarkable Gullah culture on the coastal islands. The poems in Rice compose a profound and unflinching journey connecting family and the paradoxes of American history, from the tragic times when African slaves disembarked on the South Carolina coast to the triumphant day when Judge Ernest A. Finney Jr., Nikky’s father, was sworn in as South Carolina’s first African American chief justice. Images from the Finney family archive illustrate and punctuate this collection. Rice showcases Finney’s hungry intellect, her regional awareness and pride, and her sensitivity to how cultures are built and threatened.
The World Is Round: Poems
Nikky Finney Northwestern University Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3556.I53W67 2013 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
The World Is Round, Nikky Finney’s third volume of poetry, collects the wisps of memory we carry with us throughout our earthly lives and weaves them into deft and nuanced poems that emphasize understanding the cycles of life. The settings offer a view into the kaleidoscope of human experience: the sweetness and shock of family life, the omnipresent wash of memory, and the ebullience of warm Southern air. The World Is Round carries with it an implicit challenge—to the author as a poet, and to the reader as a fellow human—to see the characters and details and events of our lives with clarity, fearlessness, and love. The result is poems that range the gamut of human reach and resilience, fury and frailty. The poet’s vision of community requires understanding and tolerance from every breathing soul. Finney illuminates the cruelties of the sometimes gawking, narrow-minded world and makes a plea for compassion inspired by our common humanity.