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Virtual Reading & Conversation: Nikky Finney and Nandi Comer

September 15, 2020 @ 7:00 pm8:30 pm

About this Event:

Join Northwestern University Press on September 15 for a virtual reading and conversation with Nikky Finney and Nandi Comer! Both poets will read from their new collections and discuss their inspirations and writing processes, followed by a Q&A at the end. Finney and Comer will be joined by poet and Northwestern UP editor Parneshia Jones for the discussion.

Please register to receive a link to the Zoom event via email.

  • If you have any questions or need assistance, please email Olivia Aguilar at olivia.aguilar@northwestern.edu
  • This conversation will be recorded and will premiere live on Northwestern UP’s Facebook (@northwesternup)
  • Attendees will receive a discount code during the event


Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry: Poems and Artifacts

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.

Tapping Out

The relentless motions and blinding colors of lucha libre, the high-flying wrestling sport, are the arresting backdrop to Nandi Comer’s collection Tapping Out. Mexican freestyle wrestling becomes the poet’s lyrical motif, uncovering what is behind the intricate masks we wear in society and our search for place within our personal histories. Comer’s poetic narratives include explorations of violence, trauma, and identity. The exquisite complications of the Black experience in settled and unsettled spaces propel her linear explorations, which challenge the idea of metaphor and cadence.

The harsh realities of being migrant and immigrant, being birthright and oppressed, are as hard-pressed as the plancha move to the body. Each poem in Tapping Out is a “freestyle movement” of language and complexity put on full display, under the bright lights and roars of survival. Comer’s splendid and barbed, Detroit style of language melts the masks with searing words.

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