Sunday, February 2, 2020

On first meeting Nikky Finney

I first met Nikky Finney in March 1998. I was still a student at Tougaloo College, and that semester I was on exchange at New York University. I visited my sister in Lexington, Kentucky, and she said that someone she knew there was organizing a poetry reading.

My sister, Phillis, was attending graduate school at the University of Kentucky. She had graduated from Spelman, and one of her professors, Gloria Wade-Gayles had instructed her to make it a priority to meet Finney as soon as she got to Lexington. So she did.

When I visited my sister, she told me about the poetry reading. A range of poets read, and Finney hosted. She may have read one of her poems, but maybe not. It's hard to remember all the details.

At the end of the reading, I do recall that my sister gave me one of Finney's books, Rice (1995), and Finney signed it for me. It was the first autographed volume of poetry I ever had. If I was blogging back then, there's no doubt I would written about the experience and the book. 

Whatever the case, my first encounter with Finney was about her as an artist-organizer. I'd hear about her doing things for people -- editing writings and organizing events. I was witnessing her as a host for a reading for emergent writers. It was later, after that when I began thinking of her as a poet as well.

A notebook on Nikky Finney for Spring 2020

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