Poems by Nikky Finney

Making Foots

Sign Language



Born to a civil rights attorney and a teacher in the small fishing and farming community of Conway, South Carolina, Nikky Finney has been writing for as long as she has memory. Her poems are powerful and warm, like her southern roots, and provide glimpses into the human adventures of birth, death, family, violence, sexuality, and relationship, exploring the soul of human community. They both highlight the constants we share and appeal for more compassion, reaching from the personal into the collective with equal measures of love and rage. Writes Walter Mosely, “She has flung me into an afterbirth of stars and made my stiff bones as loose as jelly.”

Exploring characters as diverse as Jacques Cousteau and Saartjie Baartman (the so-called Hottentot Venus), young women defined by violence and old women killing time in a thrift store, Finney “takes a leapfrog hop of the extraordinary over the commonplace,” writes Black Issues Book Review, as in the poem “Coda,” which examines the often violent encroachment on her close-knit family. As Caribbean poet Lorna Goodison noted, Finney “calls us to consider and value again the blessings found in community, the strong bonds of family and the transcendent and inexplicable ways of the spirit.”

Recipient of the Kentucky Foundation for Women Artists Fellowship Award , Finney is the author of Heartwood, a collection of stories, and three books of poems, On Wings Made of Gauze, Rice (winner of a PEN America Open Book Award), and The World is Round (winner of the 2004 Benjamin Franklin Award for Poetry). Most recently, she editied The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, due from the University of Georgia Press this year.

Educated at Talladega College and Atlanta University, Finney is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Kentucky and makes her home in Lexington. She’s also on the faculty at Cave Canem, the writer’s center for African-American poets, and a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, “the coal black African voices of Appalacia,” as she says. During the academic year 2007-2008 Finney was Grace Hazard Conkling Writer-in-Residence at Smith.





    Poetry Center Readings:
    Spring 2006
    Fall 2007