Sunday, November 20, 2011

what are you pretending not to know?
my real-life homage to Nikky Finney

NOTE: rarely will i write on the same topics for Torch posts (forthcoming) and my person blog (here) but there's neverenough praise for Nikky Finney... *sigh* ... this telling is more a personal account. besides, as you can see, i haven't written in this space in nearly two years, so, whatever gets it going again, right? anyway... here we go...

during my first year at Cave Canem, one of my most memorable moments of that unforgettable experience was the morning i sat with Nikky Finney in the main room on the campus of cranbrook in bloomfield hills, michigan. my life, on the whole, was secretly in turmoil. but, for Nikky's sagacious eye, the chaos was evident in everything my poems weren't saying. "what are you pretending not to know," she'd asked me in that way that requires you to pay attention... real attention. the abridged version: that moment was the beginning of the beginning for me. it was the first time in my life that i realized i wasn't fooling anyone, not even myself.

her walk with me that first year was so generous and care-full and loving and supportive and intentional... she is a REAL student's mentor, the every-person's poet AND a poet's poet. she is never simply art for art's sake; writing to hear her own voice. she is dedicated to the articulation of life itself through art, through a lens that is neither colored nor distorted by the truth; rather, enhanced by it.

Nikky Finney... I salute you. asking myself that question every now and again requires me to do the real work my life deserves when things aren't quite working out. and let it be said that if i could put my husband and our little prince in our car (with the assurance that it could actually make it outside of california), take the time off of work without pay, pick whatever flowers led us to you and lay them at your sandled-foot so that you'd know what gratitude looks like, i would. i walked for three summers under your tutelege, then with Rice and The World Is Round. From "The Errand Girl...", Head Off and Split has been the collection I've lauded from the moment the Books Inc., clerk handed me the receipt and i pulled away the front cover. you are what brilliance looks like. 2011 National Book Award... ahhhh... it's about damn time. (the world can no longer pretend not to know!)

OCCUPY EVERYWHERE! by divesting from "routine" and supporting indie book shops, businesses and local artists!