“It’s true that they called my name specifically, and that in itself is a wonderful thing, but 10,000 other people rushed through the door with me.” – Nikky Finney on winning the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry
I am so grateful for this Lambda Literary interview with Nikky Finney. Truth be told, I haven’t even finished reading it but I couldn’t wait to share it with all of you. Given the thematic focus of this blog, I figured this excerpt was worthy of a taste, but you really need to read the entire interview.
Did you stay in South Carolina?
I could not have stayed in South Carolina and become the writer that I have become; a writer who relishes exploring themes that are as beautiful as they are taboo. I was always my mother’s most curious child, the one also with the hardest head. I wanted to see the rest of the country and the rest of the globe. I loved to be on the move. I had to see what was down the road and over the hill. South Carolina is a state steeped in conservative values and traditions. There’s a lot about the state that does not like change. As a teenager I knew I would break away from some of those traditions. As much as I loved my family, I knew I would step away from home and make my own way in the world. I had to. I had to leave home, the church, and all the people who loved and protected me. I had to explore all the things that I needed to explore. I knew that I had to leave the southern landscape that I had been born into in order to find out exactly who I was in the world.
Where did you go next?
I went further South (laughs).