When poet and University of Kentucky professor Nikky Finney won the National Book Award last year for her collection Head Off & Split, she accepted by delivering a rousing performance that was part sermon, part history survey and all poetry. Awards show host John Lithgow called it the "best acceptance speech for anything I've ever heard in my life," and no one could have accused him of exaggerating. Finney's poems jump off the page, and her readings make language sing, swerve and burn.
Nikky Finney reads tonight at 7 p.m., at Vanderbilt's Sarratt Cinema. I wouldn't recommend you miss it.