Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney
Poems

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This fourth collection from Finney...should prove hard to forget. Against other black poets' interest in congregations, Finney is drawn to defiant individualists, to black women who let no one tell them what to do.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

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.

 

About Nikky Finney

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Nikky Finney was born at the rim of the Atlantic Ocean, in South Carolina, in 1957. The daughter of activists and educators, she began writing in the midst of the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movements. With these instrumental eras circling her, Finney's work provides first-person literary accounts to some of the most important events in American history. In 1985, and at the age of 26, Finney's debut collection of poetry, On Wings Made of Gauze, was published by William Morrow (a division of HaperCollins). Finney's next full-length collection of poetry and portraits, RICE (Sister Vision Press, 1995), was awarded the PEN America-Open Book Award, which was followed by a collection of short stories entitled Heartwood (University Press of Kentucky, 1998). Her next full-length poetry collection, The World Is Round (Inner Light Books, 2003) was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Award sponsored by the Independent Booksellers Association. In 2007, Finney edited the anthology, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (University of Georgia Press/Cave Canem), which has become an essential compilation of contemporary African American writers. Her fourth full-length collection of poetry, Head Off & Split, is Ntional Book Award Winner.  Finney and her work have been featured on Russell Simmons DEF Poetry (HBO series), renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson's feature The Meaning of Food (a PBS production) and National Public Radio. Her work has been praised by Walter Mosley, Nikki Giovanni, Gloria Naylor and the late CBS/60 Minutes news anchor Ed Bradley. Finney has held distinguished posts at Berea College as the Goode Chair in the Humanities and Smith College as the Grace Hazard Conklin Writer-in-Residence. Finney is currently a Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University Kentucky. She is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets
 
Published January 27, 2011 by Triquarterly. 116 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Head Off & Split
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Mar 21 2011

This fourth collection from Finney...should prove hard to forget. Against other black poets' interest in congregations, Finney is drawn to defiant individualists, to black women who let no one tell them what to do.

Read Full Review of Head Off & Split: Poems | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by John Freeman on Dec 31 2011

The poems in "Head Off & Split" are unabashedly political, but also erotic, personal and narrative-driven. The book's middle section, titled "The Head Over Heels," sings sweetly and passionately about the powers (and primacy) of love...

Read Full Review of Head Off & Split: Poems | See more reviews from Star Tribune

Dallas News

Good
Reviewed by John Freeman on Nov 25 2011

Head Off & Split, like Keats’ great line, takes the torsion in this contradiction, and strums the blade of poetic talent against its sinew. In doing so, Nikky Finney has made music out of madness, and created a masterpiece of astonishing beauty.

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