Nikky Finney life and biography

Nikky Finney picture, image, poster

Nikky Finney biography

Date of birth : 1957-08-26
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Conway, South Carolina,U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2011-11-18
Credited as : Poet, Professor of English, Head Off & Split

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Nikky Finney is an award-winning American poet, and the Provost’s Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Kentucky.

Finney’s targeted result of her independent years was achieved: On Wings Made of Gauze, her first book of poems, was completed in Atlanta. The book was read and ushered to the late Eunice Riedel by poet & mentor, Nikki Giovanni. Riedel acquired and edited On Wings Made of Gauze, which was published by William Morrow, in 1985.

After publication of her first book of poems, Finney relocated to the Bay Area, where she involved herself with progressive causes, and continued independent work as a poet. Finney was recruited to a position as Visiting Writer in the English department at the University of Kentucky (1989-90), by South Carolina-born novelist and poet, Percival Everett. In 1993, Finney was offered a post on the permanent faculty. Finney’s second book of poetry, Rice, was completed in Lexington, Kentucky, and was published in 1995 by SisterVisions, a Canadian press. In 1997, Rice received a PEN American Open Book Award. Rice stands as the book that brought Finney her many grass-roots followers. Finney’s story cycle, Heartwood, designed for literacy students, was published in 1998, by the University Press of Kentucky.

Finney took a leave from the University of Kentucky, in 1999 to hold the Goode Chair in the Humanities at Berea College (founded in 1855), the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. After returning to the English Department at University of Kentucky, Finney’s third book of poetry, The World is Round, was published by Inner Light Publishing in 2003. In 2005, Finney became Full Professor in the English Department at the University of Kentucky.

In 2006, Finney was appointed Interim Director of the African American Studies and Research Program at the University of Kentucky. After the publication of The World is Round, Finney was invited to Smith College, in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she served for two years as the Grace Hazard Conkling Writer-in-Residence, from 2007-2009.

Finney edited and wrote the introduction to The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, which was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2007, under the auspices of Cave Canem, an organization that works to increase opportunities for African-American poets. The Ringing Ear, with entries selected & edited by Finney, showcased the work of one hundred African American poets who are southern or who wrote on southern subjects.

Finney’s fourth book of poems, Head Off & Split, was published by Northwestern University Press in 2011. On October 12, 2011, Head Off & Split was announced as a finalist for the 2011 National Book Awards, with Finney honored as the 2011 winner of the National Book Award for Poetry on November 16, 2011.

Awards and honors:
-2011 National Book Award for Poetry, Head Off & Split
-2004 Benjamin Franklin Award (Independent Booksellers Association), First Place for Poetry, The World Is Round
-2002 Honorary Doctorate of Humanities, Claflin University
-2002 Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, Chicago, Illinois
-1999 PEN Beyond Margins Award, Rice, New York City
-1999 Kentucky Foundation for Women, Artist Fellowship Award
-1999 Kentucky Arts Council, Al Smith Fellowship
-1995 Kentucky Foundation for Women, Artist Fellowship Award
-1994 Kentucky Arts Council, Artist’s Fellowship Award

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