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10/22/2012 09:53 am ET Updated Oct 22, 2012

Nikky Finney Interview: Poet Talks Favorite Book, Where She Likes To Read

"Where I Like To Read" is a series of short author interviews and blog posts in which writers share their literary tastes and their favorite places to curl up with a good book. Nikky Finney won the National Book Award in 2011 in the Poetry category for her collection Head Off & Split.

Where do you like to read?
I love to read outside, preferably with my spine up against a tree, 200 years old or older. I've always found myself outside with a book, trying to find a comfortable place, and usually trees are the spot where that happens. I've done that since I was a girl, I did that in college. I happened to go to a college, Talladega College, that had 200-year-old oak trees speckled around the campus. It's so funny because when my college classmates see me today, the first thing they say is, "We remember you used to sit outside... whenever we were looking for you, we'd say 'Go look under that oak tree.'" And there they would find me, reading and writing and spending a lot of time outside.

I love trees, and I fight for their right to be here. I love to read anywhere where you can hear the writer's voice and the human heart at the same time, so that requires a little bit of deep silence.

What is the last book that you read?
A biography of Langston Hughes. It was done about 10 or 15 years ago - I loved it.

If you could recommend one book (other than your own) that everyone should read, what would that be?
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. That's a book everyone should have inside of their soul. That book - we need it, now more than ever. I think about it almost every day, and I read it 20 years ago. For me, Carson started the environmental movement, and it's still going strong. In this day in an age where we ask "Is there global warming or not?", and the ice caps are melting and the polar bears are moving, I don't think there's any doubt that what she talked about back then is relevant, powerful and true.

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