Nikky Finney has won the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry. In a ceremony last night in New York City, Nikky Finney beat out a stellar group of finalists to claim the National Book Award for her fourth volume of poetry - Head Off & Split.
The creative writing professor at the University of Kentucky brings together African-American figures and events in Head Off & Split. From the Civil Rights era through to the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, Nicky Finney touches poetically on the events that continue to shape a race and culture.
In its nomination write up for Nikky Finney, the National Book Foundation states that the poems in Head Off & Split are, "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."
This is the first National Book Award for Ms. Finney. Two of her previous collections of poems The World Is Round and Rice have been honored with a Benjamin Franklin Award and the Pen American Open Book Award respectively.