Head Off & Split
By Nikky Finney
(Triquarterly Books, Paperback, 9780810152168, 116pp.)
Publication Date: January 2011
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Winner, 2011 National Book Award for Poetry
Winner, 2012 GLCS 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.
Ever since she was 19 years old, Nikky Finney dreamed of being a poet. She published her first book in 1985, and has taught writing for years at the university level. Her collection Head Off & Split received the National Book Award for poetry in November. More at NPR.org
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