Finna: Poems (Paperback)
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Sharp, lyrical poems celebrating the Black vernacular—its influence on pop culture, its necessity for familial survival, its rite in storytelling and in creating the safety found only within its intimacy
“Terrific . . . illuminates life in this country in a strikingly original way.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • The New York Public Library • Tordotcom
Definition of finna, created by the author: fin·na /ˈfinə/ contraction: (1) going to; intending to [rooted in African American Vernacular English] (2) eye dialect spelling of “fixing to” (3) Black possibility; Black futurity; Blackness as tomorrow
These poems consider the brevity and disposability of Black lives and other oppressed people in our current era of emboldened white supremacy, and the use of the Black vernacular in America’s vast reserve of racial and gendered epithets. Finna explores the erasure of peoples in the American narrative; asks how gendered language can provoke violence; and finally, how the Black vernacular, expands our notions of possibility, giving us a new language of hope:
nothing about our people is romantic
& it shouldn’t be. our people deserve
poetry without meter. we deserve our
own jagged rhythm & our own uneven
walk towards sun. you make happening happen.
we happen to love. this is our greatest
About the Author
Nate Marshall is an award-winning writer, rapper, educator, and editor. He is the author and editor of numerous works including Wild Hundreds and The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. Nate is a member of The Dark Noise Collective and co-directs Crescendo Literary. He is an assistant professor of English at Colorado College. He is from the South Side of Chicago.
“Simply outstanding poetry.”—Roxane Gay, author of Hunger and Bad Feminist
“I am thankful for the honesty and self-examination in this work, yes. But even beyond that, I am thankful for a speaker who speaks as my people might, yelling across a parking lot or during a card game. I am thankful that this, too, is a part of the honesty this marvelous collection is in pursuit of.”—Hanif Abdurraqib, author of Go Ahead in the Rain and A Fortune for Your Disaster
“Nate Marshall’s terrific new book, Finna, contains poems that jump from tough to witty to tender. Written in a streetwise vernacular, these pieces about what it means to be a Black man in America feel the beat of rap and the burden of history. His search for the ‘Nate Marshall origin story’ illuminates life in this country in a strikingly original way.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“My original blurb was ‘this book decent,’ but I was told that the editor wouldn’t go for that so I am going to tell you instead that this book catalyzes a necessary conversation about Black language practices, culture, ownership, and belonging, and the commodification of Black people’s tongues. . . . So, like I said, this book decent.”—Eve L. Ewing, author of Electric Arches and 1919
“These poems here, these backhand slaps of what-you-didn’t-know-you-needed, finna be that swift fissure in the landscape of lyric. This werk is relentlessly rhythmed, deja-Chi all over again, and it’s finna hit harder than necessary or known. These snippets of precisely bladed black boy gospel, penned by the nonpareil son of the wild hundreds, finna resound and reach an impossible reach—in fact, if karma knows its stuff, this craved-for and combustible collection finna find itself peeking from the back pocket of that other Nate Marshall’s stiff and sturdy MAGA-issued denims.”—Patricia Smith, author of Incendiary Art
“In Finna, I hear Etheridge Knight, I hear Terrance Hayes, but most vividly, I hear Nate Marshall naming his many selves as some flee, others linger, and one in particular threatens to hunt him down. And yes: ‘I feel you Nate Marshall. / i’ve left places & loves / when they told me they loved / a Nate Marshall / I didn’t recognize.’ Don’t be fooled by the calm and assured clarity of this poet’s voice; there is a trip wire hidden in damn near every line break.”—Saeed Jones, author of How We Fight for Our Lives and Prelude to Bruise
“Finna is a hip millennium blues song shot through with bolts of joy and humor, an innovative homage to home, and a trenchant critique of so-called race in these so-called United States. Please believe, there ain’t no sophomore slumping for this super talented poet.”—Mitchell S. Jackson, author of Survival Math