"I Nikky Finney-ed that shit"

I am both proud of and hard on myself as a teacher, but I like to believe this makes for a good balance. And, while there are already many amazing stories and heartwarming moments, today was maybe my proudest of the semester?

After the class handed in their second major essay of the semester, I overheard one of my students telling her classmate, "I Nikky Finney-ed that shit."

See, if you don't know, Nikky Finney is a beautiful, fierce poet who gave an astounding acceptance speech when she won the National Book Award. In the literary community, it was epic, but it also reached far beyond the bounds of a typical award in poetry speech. Ha--including into a college English 101 course at the Community College of Philadelphia.

At the beginning of the semester I had my students read, and then watch, Finney's speech. We talked about the power of writing, the meaning of the word incendiary, and the complications of how history brings us to opportunities that so many of our ancestors never had.

Later, I explained how, though she did not know if she would win, if she would even get to read the speech, Nikky Finney wrote 39 drafts. I repeated. 39 drafts.

Yes. Yes. You Nikky Finney-ed that shit.

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