Just one day before Election Day, the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series explores the role of politics in the literary landscape today with readings by two acclaimed poets. Reception and book signing to follow.

Co-sponsored with Poetry Society of America

Nikky Finney’s work soars and savors the personal and historical. Her most recent book of poetry, Head Off & Split, was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for poetry. Finney has also published a collection of short stories, Heartwood, and edited the anthology The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. She is the co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets, a collective of writers of African and Native American descent from Appalachia, and a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Kentucky.

Brian Turner’s work is quiet, elegant and honest. Turner is a poet, essayist, professor, and veteran of the U.S. Army where he served for seven years. In November 2003 he was an infantry team leader for a year in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. His first book, Here, Bullet, chronicles his experiences as a soldier Iraq and was awarded the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award. His second collection, Phantom Noise, shortlisted for the 2010 T.S. Eliot Prize.

“What makes this book as important as anything published in the last decade is the irresistible music, the formal dexterity and the imaginative leaps she makes with metaphor and language in these simply stunning poems.” —poet Kwame Dawes on Finney’s Head Off & Split

from Here, Bullet

If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta's opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you've started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air . . .

From Here, Bullet © 2005 by Brian Turner, published by Alice James Press. Used with permission.