Nikky Finney

Head Off and Split

Poems

TriQuarterly/Northwestern University Press 2011

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in LiteratureNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoetryNew Books Network July 6, 2011 Vershawn Young

UPDATE: Nikky Finney’s Head Off and Split has been named a finalist for a National Book Award. Congratulations, Nikky, from the folks at New...

UPDATE: Nikky Finney’s Head Off and Split has been named a finalist for a National Book Award. Congratulations, Nikky, from the folks at New Books in African American Studies and the New Books Network!)

Poet Nikky Finney’s new book Head Off & Split (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2011) has made an immediate splash, receiving well-deserved critical acclaim from the literary world and wide attention from the reading public. Although her book has only been out a few months, it has already been widely reviewed, with Finney featured on the cover of the prestigious literary journal Poets and Writers.

Finney is among the who’s who of writers, a poet about whom Nikki Giovanni says, “We all, especially now, need.” And yet Finney is unpretentious, caring, and inspirational. All this is illustrated in her interview for New Books in African American Studies, where she discusses the autobiographical impulse behind the book’s title, pays homage to black womanhood, worries about black boys, and she speaks on her love of love, of life, of words, of laughter. Finney is deep. And while that description might seem trite, think metaphorically, think still waters. There is much to mine in both Head Off and Split and in this interview.

Finney has a generous spirit, giving much of herself to the world. But don’t be fooled. She doesn’t give all away. She reserves a little for herself, hones her spirit, cultivates it, as any good writer would. Then she lays some aesthetics on it, on what she has kept for herself, and blesses us, the world, when we’re ready. That’s what she has done in her latest volume. Enjoy it.

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