Nikky Finney was born by the sea in South Carolina and raised during the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Arts Movements. She began reading and writing poetry as a teenager growing up in the spectacle and human theater of the deep South. She is the author of four books of poetry: On Wings Made of Gauze, Rice, The World Is Round, and Head Off & Split, which won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2011. She has written extensively for journals, magazines, and other publications. For 21 years she taught creative writing at the University of Kentucky, and now holds the John H. Bennett, Jr., Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.