Curlee R HoltonNikky Finney

The Battle of and for the Black Face Boy

Curlee R Holton, Nikky Finney

The Battle of and for the Black Face Boy



Edition Size



Inkjet, Letterpress




Artist Book


12 × 9 × 1 in

$ 1,600.00


View Collectors

Boston Athenaeum

Bucknell University

Cornell University

Emory University

Lafayette College

Library of Congress (LoC)

Swarthmore College

The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)

University of California, Irvine (UCI)

University of Delaware Library

University of Michigan, Labadie Collection

University of Vermont

University of Washington Libraries

“I wanted to write a poem that traveled from the horror of one day to the lifting of our chins the next—that paid homage to how we keep moving; keep stepping forward; inventing whatever is next to invent; constructing, fashioning iron chains into wings; how we continue to fold and shape into a future what has been kept from us, regardless of the brutality that still chases us.” — from the Introduction by Nikky

Commissioned in 2013 by the Clarice Smith Center at the University of Maryland, “The Battle Of And For The Black Face Boy” began as an occasional poem written to commemorate this year’s sesquicentennial of the Civil War’s end. As Finney drafted the work, George Zimmerman was found not guilty of Trayvon Martin’s murder, Michael Brown was shot, and the civil rights movement now known as Black Lives Matter began to rise.

The Battle Of And For The Black Face Boy” — fifteen pages in length—represents an original vision, what Finney calls “a radical libretto.” Drawing from modernism, the poem moves between centuries and travels across the ocean highway of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and throughout the United States.

Artist, Driscoll Center curator, and master printmaker Curlee R. Holton brings the full force of Finney’s epic poem to life in a large accordion-fold book of exhibition quality.

The poem is also available in the Fall 2015 issue of Oxford American.