REVIEWS & PRIASE FOR HEAD OFF & SPLIT
"Finney’s wondrous acceptance speech is an acknowledgement to being alive while being inextricably bound to the past. It is now appropriately included in the new edition of Head Off & Split. Like the speech, the book is a manifold act of acknowledgement. 'If my name is ever called out, I promised my girl-poet self, so too would I call out theirs.' The history we begin with is rooted in acknowledgement, in witness, and, as Finney shows us, in collaboration. Her poems are duets and choruses. We hear the italicized voices of Rosa Parks, Mayree Monroe, Robert F. Williams—even the titles are peopled acknowledgements: 'Shaker: Wilma Rudolph Appears While Riding the Althea Gibson Highway Home,' 'Dancing with Strom,' 'Alice Butler,' 'The Condoleezza Suite.' The poems braid the immediacy of the weather channel, the NBC Nightly News, Discover Magazine, politics, and catastrophes to the enduring struggle against forces “devoted to quelling freedom and insurgency, imagination, all hope.” In short, all that is breathtaking in this poet’s acceptance speech is breathtaking in her poems."
– Terrance Hayes, author of Lighthead, winner of the 2010 National Book Award
"With Head Off & Split, Nikky Finney establishes herself as one of the most eloquent, urgent, fearless and necessary poets writing in America today. What makes this book as important as anything published in the last decade is the irresistible music, the formal dexterity and the imaginative leaps she makes with metaphor and language in these simply stunning poems. This is a very, very important achievement."
– Kwame Dawes, author of Hope's Hospice
"In Nikky Finney's Head Off & Split the beauty of language soars and saves us even as we skirt the raw edge of terror. And something rare and precious is restored, a light, circling movement of the spirit. This is poetry to give thanks for."
– Meena Alexander, author of Quickly Changing River
"Beginning with the sweepingly inclusive and powerful 'Red Velvet,' a Middle Passage poem for our times, Nikky Finney takes the reader to a wonderfully alive world where the musical possibilities of language overflow with surprise and innovation. Finney has an ear to go along with the wildness of her imagination, which sweeps through history like a pair of wings. Her carefully modulated free verse is always purposeful in its desire to move the reader in a way that allows us to imitate access to necessary observations about ourselves. These poems, in other words, have the power to save us."
– Bruce Weigl, author of What Saves Us
"No one opens a vein on a page with a sharper and more nuanced gathered set of senses than Nikky Finney. In Head Off & Split, she takes aim at the heart of American wrong-headedness with a sense of purpose and integrity not only respectful of, but fueled by, her own brand of multiple kinships and rememberance, a grand struggle-swagger of powerful literary inheritance."
– Thomas Sayers Ellis, author of Skin, Inc.
"Again, Nikky Finney manipulates into music the words readers use to see, hear, and understand a soul's history. Head Off & Split is as Southern as it is American, as feminist as it is human, as black as it is a tide of colors knowing no bounds. These poems collapse time into one great knowing where Modjeska Monteith Simkins can look Condoleezza Rice in the eye and forgive her. Yes, "lightning can come though any open door," and this book is proof of it."
– Jericho Brown, author of PLEASE.
"Nikky Finney has been a fine poet much too long to say that this latest treasure is her promise coming into being. She exploded with so much talent with On Wings Made of Gauze and beautifully matured with Rice, yet Head Off & Split takes the promise of youth with the control of adulthood to bring her greatest exploration. Honest, searing, searching. We all, especially now, need this book of poems; we all, especially now, need this poet."
– Nikki Giovanni, author of Bicycles
"Finney has a knack for narrative and is a natural story teller for whom lyric seems compulsion, if not instinct. At her strongest, Finney weaves through lines like the seamstress with fresh, unusual, and imaginative metaphors. Her language is so rich you are compelled to read her poems aloud if only to feel the texture of her words on your literary pallet."
– Natalie N. Caro [read full review here]
"There is no disappointing, no unnecessary poem in this deep, dense collection. Weaving personal and historical material together, fiction and autobiography, different kinds of narrators—often in the same poem, the prose poem and the lined, dialogue and devices from theater with observation, ethnography and public record with the imagined, human and non-human, Finney’s poetic voice and vision is that of the steady, watchful eye, the camera."
- Wendy Vardaman [read the full review here]
Praise for Finney's other works
"I recently had the good fortune to be the judge of the poetry competition for the Publishers Marketing Association which honors the finest title within the independent publishing world. The book that won the poetry prize was not only the best of the competition, but it is easily among the best poetry books in recent years. Nikky Finney's THE WORLD IS ROUND is an astonishing meditation on the severity and occasional epiphanies that mark the human experience. Although projected through the autobiographical lens of Finney's African American heritage, the lyricism of her language makes THE WORLD worthy of a global audience."
– Phil Hall, Book Nook. New York Resident, 2004