Publication Year: 2013
In Rice, her second volume of poetry, Nikky Finney explores the complexity of rice as central to the culture, economy, and mystique of the coastal South Carolina region where she was born and raised. The prized Carolina Gold rice paradoxically made South Carolina one of the most oppressive states for slaves and also created the remarkable Gullah culture on the coastal islands. The poems in Rice compose a profound and unflinching journey connecting family and the paradoxes of American history, from the tragic times when African slaves disembarked on the South Carolina coast to the triumphant day when Judge Ernest A. Finney Jr., Nikky’s father, was sworn in as South Carolina’s first African American chief justice. Images from the Finney family archive illustrate and punctuate this collection. Rice showcases Finney’s hungry intellect, her regional awareness and pride, and her sensitivity to how cultures are built and threatened.
Published by: Northwestern University Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Foreword by Kwame Dawes
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There is little else I can do but respond to your collection, which, I confess, was clandestinely acquired and which I read with the furtive excitement of a child who is reading taboo—actually in print. The collection produces a feeling—a sense of confidence that allows the complex to become distilled into simple wisdom. Very often, your poems assume that quality of clarity and directness that one associates ...
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My first breaths were drawn, my first words coaxed on a triangular patch of sandy land called South Carolina. This was land that Indians first inhabited and that Black folks, Africans, had made.1 I was born to a land thick with Spanish moss and swamp, cypress and live oak, and, in its day, slavery and many a rice field.I call South Carolina land that Black folks made because it was on the backs ...
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There have always been those on various shores pointing and blowing this raft of grainy words, as well as its navigator, out in search of a good warm sea wind. Those who have said in all kinds of ways and deeds: Keep writing and the rest of it will come. I have been buoyed here by Percival Everett, Gurney Norman, Peter J. Harris, Kwame Dawes, Linda J. Thomas, Opal Palmer Adisa, PJ Hamilton, Michael Brock, ...
The Goodfellows Club
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They sell insurance and mean it flew air squadrons and remember it*Persian roll is a sweet, sticky pastry particular to a bakery in Danville, Kentucky....
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In 1840, a French writer, Bouchelle, reported that the root bark was ...
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There at least I’ll be around things that ain’t so beholdin’...
“God Ain’t Makin ’ No More Land”
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...(quote from Mr. Abraham Jenkins, Johns Island, S.C., found in Ain’t You The islands from Charleston, south, the abandoned rice fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea and the county bordering the St. Johns River and Florida are reserved and set apart for the settlement of the Negroes.it’ll take time but it’ll sho’ nuff be time they’ll take...
Mary Mary Quite Contrary
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July 1799. Judge Samuel McDowell in Lexington, Kentucky, set free a slave named Mary, who sued her owner claiming she was entitled to her freedom. McDowell’s order contained verbatim a letter from Mary’s owner relinquishing ownership of the slave, saying she wasn’t worth the *Social historian Barbara Fields, quoted in the Ken Burns documentary The Civil War...
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...1. to summon up one’s courage; rouse one’s spirits. n. the heart, liver, and lungs, esp. of an animal used for food. 2. courage or resolution in the face of dif_f_iculties. syn. bravery, fortitude, boldness, determination...
He Never Had It Made
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These words were read upon the investiture of Ernest A. Finney Jr. as the first Black chief justice of the state of South Carolina, December 1, 1994, Columbia, S.C. ...
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...“When you wear your hair like that they say you are able to speak directly with your ancestors,” said a stranger to a poet in a copy shop where she worked for “Jemison . . . she’s at the window again . . . I couldn’t make it all out . . . the language . . . and hair just like hers . . .”...
The Savoy, 1926
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This was indeed one of the first places where women couples danced ...
List of Photographs
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Page Count: 210
Publication Year: 2013
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth