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Head Off & Split: Poems

Northwestern University Press Poet named 2011 finalist for National Book Award

October 17, 2011 | by Wendy Leopold
Nikky Finney
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University Press author Nikky Finney last week was named a 2011 National Book Award finalist for poetry. The book award is among the country’s most prestigious literary prizes. Finney’s fourth book of poetry, “Head Off & Split: Poems,” was published this year by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern.

Northwestern University Press director Jane Bunker praised Finney’s poems for their “seemingly effortless ability to address within a single collection timeless meditations on the interior life and love, the persistent paradoxes of race in American history, and reflections on current events that probe deeper than the news.”

“We were honored when Nikky Finney chose to publish her collection with the Press, and everyone here is thrilled to be part of her well-deserved nomination as a finalist,” Bunker added.

This is not the first time Northwestern University Press has been associated with the National Book Awards. In 1997, Press author Meredith won the National Book Award for Poetry for “Effort at Speech.” Seven years later, Press author Christine Schutt was a finalist for her debut novel “Florida.”

Finney, the daughter of a civil rights attorney and a teacher in South Carolina, is a founder of Affrilachian Poets, a group of African-American poets who challenge simple notions of an all-white Appalachia. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of Kentucky.

National Book Award winners will be announced in New York on Nov. 16. Finney is one of five finalists for the prize for poetry.

Topics: University News