Arts Calendar

Grand Valley State University

Fall Arts Celebration: Poetry Night - An Evening of Poetry and Conversation with Nikky Finney and B.H. Fairchild Nikky Finney and B.H. Fairchild

Fall Arts Celebration: Poetry Night - An Evening of Poetry and Conversation with Nikky Finney and B.H. Fairchild

Friday, October 19, 2012
7:00 PM

Grand Valley State University L.V. Eberhard Center, Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus

Fall Arts Celebration, Humanities, Literary Arts

Both poets selected for this years Poetry Night are noted as witnesses to regional history and cultural issues in their work, though they each bring a separate geography and a distinctive voice.

When Nikky Finney gave her acceptance speech as the winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry, she made good on her girlhood promise to call out those who helped her succeed as a poet. She also reached back in history to acknowledge a time when slaves were forbidden by law to read or write. Many of the poems in "Head Off & Split," her award-winning book, also pay homage to historic events and persons with language praised as "eloquent, urgent and fearless."

Born in South Carolina to activist parents, Finney came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Arts movements. She is currently a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Kentucky. Her previous volumes of poetry include "The World is Round," "Rice," and "On Wings Made of Gauze."

B.H. Fairchild's work shares a similar interest in history. The Los Angeles Times review of his sixth book of poetry, "Usher," says, "he stakes out an American mythos in which the personal and collective blur . . . he adopts a variety of voices . . . to evoke a territory between perseverance and despair."

Fairchild was awarded the Arthur Rense Poetry Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001 for consistent excellence over a long career. That career includes work not only as a poet and educator, but also as a machinist in the mid-1960s, after growing up in blue-collar towns in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.

Previous collections of Fairchild's poems include "Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest," winner of the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award and the Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress. He has been the recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Lannan Foundation, and is the author of "Such Holy Song," a scholarly study of William Blake.

Reading will be followed by a reception and book signing. All Fall Arts Celebration events are free and open to the public. Seats fill quickly; arrive early. For more information, visit, call (616) 331-2180.

Grand Valley State University thanks the following sponsors for their commitment to the arts and their generous support of Fall Arts Celebration 2012: Ginny Gearhart and the Gearhart Family, Liesel and Hank Meijer, Elaine and Larry Shay, Judy and Peter Theune, John R. Hunting, Allendale Greatest Needs Fund of the Allendale Community Foundation, and Media Sponsor WOOD 106.9 FM & 1300 AM.