Excerpt from Old Story
At the edge of Appalachian forests,
dogwood testifies: rusty print of nails
on white cruciform petals,
a crown of thorns.
Expert at finding patterns,
we spot sacredness
in passionflower and lotus,
golden apples and golden bough.
Even the bleached bodies
of sand dollars offer a dole of grace:
number the wounds, count the stars,
and angels spilling from the broken whole.
Valerie Nieman’s second poetry collection, Hotel Worthy, was published in spring 2015 by Press 53. She was a 2013-2014 North Carolina Arts Council poetry fellow, and has received an NEA creative writing fellowship in poetry. Her awards include the Greg Grummer, Nazim Hikmet, and Byron Herbert Reece poetry prizes, and her work has been published in Poetry, New Letters, Virginia Quarterly Review, Chautauqua, West Branch, Connotation Press, The Missouri Review, and several anthologies. Nieman is the author of three novels: Blood Clay, a novel of the New South, and Neena Gathering, set in a near future Appalachia. A fourth book, Backwater, is now in submission.
Nieman graduated from West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte. A former newspaper reporter and editor, she now teaches creative writing at North Carolina A&T State University. She was a founding editor of Kestrel literary journal and currently the poetry editor of Prime Number magazine.
Mari Hailu is a recent graduate of Southern Methodist University where she simultaneously received a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Winner of the faculty-nominated 2014 Margaret Terry Crooks Award for Outstanding Creative Writing, and the David R. Russell Poetry Prize, Mari is grateful to be able to share her words with her community. She is a Managing Editor of The Wardrobe, a blog series affiliated with Sundress Publications, and in her spare time she enjoys playing music at local venues.