On many occasions, faculty, staff and clinicians around the University of Kentucky share their pride for the UK family and the expertise and notoriety their colleagues hold in respective fields. This reality – the presence of world-class artisans, scholars and researchers in the heart of the Bluegrass – was fully understood when University of Kentucky Professor Nikky Finney received the National Book Award for her captivating work, “Head Off & Split,” on Wednesday evening in New York City.
The author Walter Mosely wrote that “Poetry contains the magic of language, the ache of truth, and the possibility of entering a world where the rules play hide and seek with your sense of being. A poem, when it works, is a rolling realization of ideas and emotions that bring you somewhere you've never been with a sense of familiarity that opens up a whole new world right there in your mind.” That so aptly describes Nikky Finney both as a poet and as a teacher. Her poems, carefully and finely honed words and passages strung together like beautiful pearls, combine common experiences, searing emotions and sometimes uncomfortable history to speak truth in uncommonly beautiful and resonant ways.
Today, what students and her colleagues at UK have known for years, a nation now understands – the treasure that is Nikky Finney and her poetry, which reaches and touches us all. I want to congratulate her on this incredible achievement, and I am honored to count her as part of UK’s special family.