Nikky Finney: Sipping Kerosene at the Refectory
Famed poet Nikky Finney kicked off our Health Humanities & Social Justice Breath, Body, Voice Conference with a reading from work at the Hayti Heritage Center. Local Durham-based poet and Duke alumna Alexis Pauline Gumbs hosted.
Nikky Finney was born by the sea in South Carolina and raised during the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Arts Movements. She began reading and writing poetry as a teenager growing up in the spectacle and human theatre of the deep South. At Talladega College she began to autodidactically explore the great intersections between art, history, politics, and culture. These same arenas of exploration are ongoing today in her writing, teaching and spirited belief in one-on-one activism. She is the author of four books of poetry, On Wings Made of Gauze, RICE, The World Is Round, and Head Off & Split, which won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2011. She has written extensively for journals, magazines, and other publications. For twenty-one years she taught creative writing at the University of Kentucky and now holds the John H. Bennett, Jr., Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. She travels extensively, never lecturing, always inviting and hoping for conversations that just might improve the human condition.