Nikky Finney is an American poet. She was the Guy Davenport Endowed Professor of English at the University of Kentucky for twenty years.
One of three children, Finney is the only daughter of Ernest A. Finney, Jr., Civil Rights Attorney and retired Chief Justice of the state of South Carolina, and Frances Davenport Finney, elementary school teacher. Finney’s father began his career as a civil rights attorney, and in 1961, served as Head Legal Counsel for the Friendship 9, black junior college students arrested and charged when trying to desegregate McCrory’s lunch counter in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
After studying with Dr. Howard Zehr and graduating from Talladega College in 1979, Finney began her artistic career as a photographer. Finney committed to documenting the trajectory of African-American contributions to American creativity and culture. In Alabama, Finney continued to advance as an autodidactic poet and creative artist.
Finney’s targeted result of her independent years was achieved: On Wings Made of Gauze, her first book of poems, was completed in Atlanta. The book was read and ushered to the late Eunice Riedel by Nikki Giovanni.
Finney is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, a writing collective based in Lexington, Kentucky. Finney has served on the faculty and Board of the Cave Canem Foundation where she shepherds younger poets in the spirit of her mentorship experience.