Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry is a twenty-first-century paean to the sterling love songs humming throughout four hundred years of black American life. National Book Award winner Nikky Finney’s fifth collection contains lighthouse poems, narrative hotbeds, and treasured artifacts—copper coins struck from a new matrix for poetry, one that testifies from the witness stand and punctuates the occasional lyric within a new language of “docu-poetry.” The ancestors arise and fly, and the black female body is the “insurgent sensualist,” hunted but fighting to live and love in the ways it wants and knows best: “I loved being / a black girl but had not yet learned / to play dead . . .” The tenderness of a father’s handwritten notes shadows the collection like a ghost, while the treasured, not-for-sale interiority of a black girl’s fountainhead takes over every page. “One yellaw gal with an all-black tongue has gone missing.” Finney has composed a new black spiritual, and one of the great voices of our time again stamps her singular sound into the new day.
NIKKY FINNEY is the author of five books of poetry, including Head Off & Split (Northwestern University Press, 2011), winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. She is the John H. Bennett, Jr., Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina. Finney has received the Art for Change Fellowship from the Ford Foundation and currently serves as an ambassador for the University of Arizona Poetry Center’s Art for Justice Project.