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February 15, 2006

Award-winning "Affrilachian" Poet Nikky Finney to Visit Smith

Editor’s note: For a high-res digital photo of Nikky Finney, e-mail Marti Hobbes at

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Smith College’s Poetry Center, Afro-American studies department and the feminist interdisciplinary journal Meridians collaborated to bring poet Nikky Finney to campus Feb. 27-28.

On Monday, Feb. 27, Finney will present “Inquisitor and Insurgent: Black Woman with Pencil, Sharpened,” which features Finney's tribute to the women of color who have inspired her work. Afro-American studies professors Kevin Quashie and Paula Giddings will respond to the presentation, which will take place at 7 p.m. in the Neilson Library Browsing Room.

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, Finney will read her poetry at 7:30 p.m. in Stoddard Hall Auditorium.

Both events are free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.

Finney’s poems 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.

Exploring characters as diverse as Jacques Cousteau and Saartjie Baartman (the so-called Hottentot Venus), Finney “takes a leapfrog hop of the extraordinary over the commonplace,” writes Black Issues Book Review. 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.”

A native of Conway, S.C., Finney, whose poems are powerful and warm like her Southern roots, is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of Kentucky and makes her home nearby in Lexington. She’s also on the faculty at Cave Canem, the writer’s center for African-American poets, and is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets described as “the coal black African voices of Appalachia.”

Recipient of the Kentucky Foundation for Women Artists Fellowship Award , Finney is the author “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, most recently, “The World is Round.”

Finney’s Feb. 28 reading will be followed by a booksale and signing in Stoddard Hall. For further information, contact Cindy Furtek in the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen Doré Watson, Poetry Center director, at (413) 585-3368.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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