Poet Nikky Finney is leaving UK


By Morgan Eads


Finney released a statement on her website, nikkyfinney.net, on Monday saying she was accepting a position in the English department at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Finney received the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry for her book “Head Off & Split.”

The offer from USC includes the John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Literature.

“This is a joint appointment in the English Language and Literature department and the African American Studies program,” Finney said in the statement. “I will also be teaching in USC’s wonderful MFA Creative Writing program.”

Finney is the author of four poetry books: “Head Off & Split,” “The World Is Round,” “Rice” and “On Wings Made of Gauze.” She also wrote “Heartwood” and edited “The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South.”

Finney has taught at UK for 20 years, she said in her statement. In the statement, Finney discussed the opportunity to teach and write that UK gave her.

“That initial invitation, gave me, a 30-year-old poet, with one book of poetry, a chance to do something that I had never had the chance to do before — focus solely on teaching and writing,” Finney said in her statement. “I finished my next book. It all worked out beautifully.”

In the statement, Finney, a South Carolina native, said her decision to leave UK was, “a daughter’s decision.”

She said her parents are in increasing need of her presence.

“My mother and father are 79 and 82, respectively, and in need of more and more of me as time flies,” she said. “After 38 years of being away from South Carolina it is time to go home. I feel there are projects waiting on me there, books to write on that home soil, and students to nurture and guide.”