KU News Release


August 29, 2012
Contact: Victor Bailey, Hall Center for the Humanities, 785-864-7822

National award-winning poet to lecture on poetry, climate change, art at Hall Center

Nikky Finney


LAWRENCE—Nikky Finney, author of “Head Off & Split,” a National Book Award-winning collection of poetry, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, in the Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union. Her lecture, "Making Poetry in Our Anthropocene Age," is the first installment of the Hall Center for the Humanities' 2012-2013 Humanities Lecture Series. The event is free and open to the public.

The Anthropocene is a term coined to suggest that humans now act as a geophysical force, changing the climate of the planet and ushering in a new geological period. What is the damage done to the Earth's ecosystems that might concern a contemporary poet? How does the Anthropocene ultimately matter to our human intersections with each other, the natural world, art and culture?

Finney was born in South Carolina within listening distance of the sea. A child of activists, she came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Arts movements. At Talladega College, nurtured by Hale Woodruff's “Amistad” murals, Finney began to understand the powerful connection between art and history.

The professor of English and creative writing at the University of Kentucky is known for her powerful and moving speaking style. Her acceptance speech for the National Book Award received great acclaim as a profound combination of poetry, performance and lecture.

She has authored four books of poetry: “Head Off & Split” (2011); “The World is Round”(2003); “Rice” (1995); and “On Wings Made of Gauze” (1985). Finney also authored “Heartwood” (1997), edited “The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South” (2007),and co- founded the Affrilachian Poets.

The Hall Center will host a more informal public question-and-answer session, " A Conversation with Nikky Finney," at 10 a.m. Sept. 7 in the Hall Center Conference Hall.

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Salman Rushdie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included Henry Louis Gates Jr., Mary Oliver and T.R. Reid. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule. For information on other lectures in the 2012-2013 series, visit the Hall Center website.



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