Nikky Finney

A woman with grayish brown locs stands before a microphone.

Nikky Finney reading at Split This Rock, 2016. SLOWKING. CC BY-NC. Wikimedia Commons.

(1957- )  Nikky Finney was born in Horry, SC to Ernest A. Finney, Jr. and Frances Davenport Finney. Finney graduated from Central Sumter High School and enrolled in Talladega College in Alabama.  Finney was active in the Civil Rights movement and her childhood was shaped by the turmoil and unrest of the South in the 1960s and ‘70s.

Finney’s political activism has influenced her career as a poet. Combining the personal and political, Finney’s poetry is known for its graceful, heartfelt combination of the two.  She was a member of the monthly Pamoja Writers Collective in Atlanta that in Finney’s words “was where she learned to close read, make a plan for my work and pay attention to the rich voices of people who were never considered writers by the world at large.”  

She taught poetry and fiction at the University of Kentucky where she became Professor Emeritus.  She has a joint appointment in the department of English Language and Literature and the African American Studies program at the University of South Carolina.  African American history, the history of America, as well as topics in Popular Culture, Gender and Sexuality, Art, Race and Social Justice are at the core of her work.