Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry is a twenty-first-century paean to the sterling love songs humming throughout four hundred years of black American life. National Book Award winner Nikky Finney’s fifth collection contains lighthouse poems, narrative hotbeds, and treasured artifacts—copper coins struck from a new matrix for poetry, one that testifies from the witness stand and punctuates the occasional lyric within a new language of “docu-poetry.”
The ancestors arise and fly, and the black female body is the “insurgent sensualist,” hunted but fighting to live and love in the ways it wants and knows best: “I loved being / a black girl but had not yet learned / to play dead . . .”
The tenderness of a father’s handwritten notes shadows the collection like a ghost, while the treasured, not-for-sale interiority of a black girl’s fountainhead takes over every page. “One yellaw gal with an all-black tongue has gone missing.” Finney has composed a new black spiritual, and one of the great voices of our time again stamps her singular sound into the new day.
NIKKY FINNEY is the author of five books of poetry, including Head Off & Split (Northwestern University Press, 2011), winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. She is the John H. Bennett, Jr., Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina. Finney has received the Art for Change Fellowship from the Ford Foundation and currently serves as an ambassador for the University of Arizona Poetry Center’s Art for Justice Project.
"Finney’s skillful, sweeping epic ambitiously connects personal and public history." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A paean to the culture of African Americans and their history and culture of survival through creativity—in your face, loud, emotional, outrageous truth.” —Ed Roberson, author of To See the Earth Before the End of the World
"Finney’s latest book is a blessing for a continuously undone but never destroyed people, reaching into the past to grasp hope and self-worth to sustain their future." —Da'shawn Mosley, Sojourners
"This is a gorgeous, multi-valenced, illuminated exploration into Finney's thickly, rapturously rooted life. A family history that skeins into South Carolina's lore. A queer Black woman poet's purposeful wandering into becoming." —Tyehimba Jess, author of Olio
"Finney’s work is grounded in memory, and she traffics in the trauma and joy implicit in our lives and days. Her poems elide the generational and the personal with ample music. They are, therefore, more than taut with vital details; they are alive with nuance and contrast, where doom is rightfully proximate to creation and grace." —Sewanee Review
"This book. I’ve never read anything like it. That’s a good, good thing." —Kelly Norman Ellis, Blood Orange Review
"Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry, the poet’s first new collection in nearly 10 years, demonstrates how Finney continues to push herself and expand our idea of poetry’s scope . . . As in much of Finney’s previous work, she invites us into her vision of race, gender, family, relationship to the land, and love with many long poems worthy of the space. But this collection is different. Part lyrical insurgency, part memoir, part fantasy, it tells us how Finney came to be a poet and shows us the land, people, and artifacts that helped her get there." —Ciona Rouse, Chapter16.org
"Given her career, it is saying a lot that her latest book is, I think, her most remarkable." —David Naimon, Between the Covers
"This book is an astonishment . . . It is an archive of love, the likes of which the 'official archives' have often ignored or denied or, I would say, suppressed. This book reminds us that our eyes, our hearts, our love, our poems, make another archive—awayward archive, to quote Saidiya Hartman—that holds us. That beholds us. An archive in which we are being held and seen by who loves us." —Ross Gay, Sewanee Review
Nikky Finney reading “Hotbed #224” with Alondra Uribe. Video by David Flores.
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