Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry is a twenty-first-century paean to the sterling love songs humming throughout four hundred years of black American life. National Book Award winner Nikky Finney’s fifth collection contains lighthouse poems, narrative hotbeds, and treasured artifacts—copper coins struck from a new matrix for poetry, one that testifies from the witness stand and punctuates the occasional lyric within a new language of “docu-poetry.”
The ancestors arise and fly, and the black female body is the “insurgent sensualist,” hunted but fighting to live and love in the ways it wants and knows best: “I loved being / a black girl but had not yet learned / to play dead . . .”
The tenderness of a father’s handwritten notes shadows the collection like a ghost, while the treasured, not-for-sale interiority of a black girl’s fountainhead takes over every page. “One yellaw gal with an all-black tongue has gone missing.” Finney has composed a new black spiritual, and one of the great voices of our time again stamps her singular sound into the new day.