“You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it.” ~ Adrienne Rich
I’ve had a writer’s crush on Nikky Finney since I was her student nearly 20 years ago; first in short stories, then poetry, where she was mighty gracious to a long-winded hillbilly like me. Her classes were not simply an exercise in writing. No. They were more like summer revivals, when the air is so hot, still and humid you can cut it with a knife, or forked tongue, as it were. She conjured the spirit like a fired-up preacher to move our minds and hands and mouths, making us cry out in shame and ecstasy until we laid our soulless words at the alter and begged to be better poets. Night after night she demanded truth; our voices, our truths, spread eagle on the page buck naked and raw or not at all, Amen.
Nikky is the real deal. She deserves the National Book Award. I fail her as a student but, she has never failed as America’s best. Just listen to her acceptance speech if you don’t believe me.