In Rice, her second volume of poetry, Nikky Finney explores the complexity of rice as central to the culture, economy, and mystique of the coastal South Carolina region where she was born and raised. The prized Carolina Gold rice paradoxically made South Carolina one of the most oppressive states for slaves and also created the remarkable Gullah culture on the coastal islands. The poems in Rice compose a profound and unflinching journey connecting family and the paradoxes of American history, from the tragic times when African slaves disembarked on the South Carolina coast to the triumphant day when Judge Ernest A. Finney Jr., Nikky’s father, was sworn in as South Carolina’s first African American chief justice. Images from the Finney family archive illustrate and punctuate this collection. Rice showcases Finney’s hungry intellect, her regional awareness and pride, and her sensitivity to how cultures are built and threatened.
“Rice feeds readers who are hungry for the deep love and lyricism that imbues Black life. Nikky Finney is a writer who carries the traditions of her ancestors with the exquisite care they deserve.” —Evelyn C. White
“Her voice is stronger, clearer, and yet more gentle than ever. I essentially think a meal should consist of meat and potatoes. After reading Finney I find myself longing for the smell, the taste, the comfort of rice.” —Nikki Giovanni
“Be Warned: This collection is not simply a bowl of steamed Carolina Gold rice. This pot is well seasoned, rice boiled in pot liquor from greens, tomatoes, and okra—with a lovely edge of sweetness.” —Bernice Johnston Reagon
"It is my conviction that Nikky Finney brings a distinctive voice to American letters that needs to be heard." —Kwame Dawes, African American Review
"While Rice is a deeply personal book, as the family photographs accompanying the poems make clear, it also situates the personal within a larger history, reminding us that personal history is already social, and that history is personal." —Jonathan Butler, The Jasper Project