Hotel Worthy by Valerie Nieman
"Check into Hotel Worthy and you’ll never want to leave. There abides in its pages an uncanny past wrought into poems that spring from a memory that unites the dead with the living, restores the abandoned, returns the missing. This is a startling book. The language—its lyric nuance, its plaintive harmonies, its ceremonial beauty—is unforgettable. In the words of the poet, 'Each blow of wood on wood / sets ripples on the water: / deo gratias, deo gratias.' Deo gratias indeed—for Hotel Worthy."
—Joseph Bathanti, former Poet Laureate of North Carolina and author of Concertina: Poems
"At last, a book that states clearly the purpose of life. According to Val Nieman's Hotel Worthy, it's to know things, especially the names for things—Candor peaches, Marvel-of-Peru, pipsissewa. It's a pleasure to hear the quiet, sure voices of these poems, to be caught off guard when some swoop wide at the end like the trumpets of lemon lilies, to be reminded that "the personal . . . holds hands with the larger all the way up.'"
—Sarah Lindsay, Lannan Literary Fellow and author of Debt to the Bone-Eating Snotflower
"What are we to do with the lost, broken, failed things of our lives? How do we piece together the shards of relationships that didn't last, salvage the ghosts of our younger selves? Like a daring archeologist, the poems of Hotel Worthy dig [deeply] into the intimate layers of years, excavating the fossils of memory, love, loss, and family history. These poems compel us to have the courage to emerge from our past shipwrecks and embark anew. This collection is a road map for beginning again."
—Ansel Elkins, author of Blue Yodel, winner of the 2014 Yale Series of Younger Poets
These are poems of love, loss, and survival, ranging across a landscape from the North Carolina coast to the painted caves of the Perigord.
Valerie Nieman's poems have appeared widely and been collected in two chapbooks and her debut collection, Wake Wake Wake (Press 53). She has held writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council. Her books of prose include three novels, with the most recent, Blood Clay, being honored with the Eric Hoffer Award. She is a graduate of West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte. A professor of creative writing at North Carolina A&T State University, she teaches at John Campbell Folk School and other venues, and serves as poetry editor for Prime Number Magazine. You may encounter her on a train, or solo hiking, or over a cup of lemon-ginger tea at a local bookstore.