News and Reviews

A new review of "Hotel Worthy"

June 10, 2015

It's a nice surprise when a new review rolls in - especially one as detailed and thoughtful as Anthony Harrison's look at "Hotel Worthy" for Triad City Beat.

"Hotels host guests from all strata of society, from eccentric residents to families of four dropping in for the weekend. Like a true hotel, former News & Record reporter Valerie Nieman’s newest compilation, Hotel Worthy, contains poems of differing themes, forms and levels of sophistication. They all intermingle like guests coming down from their rooms for a complimentary continental breakfast.
Level of sophistication, of course, has nothing to do with the quality of the poems. which vary markedly in content and form from the clipped, seven-line free verse of “Release,” which kicks off the collection, and the rambling, unpunctuated prose of “Hotel Worthy” to the rigorous sestina of “Notorious” and the experiment in rhyme of “The Bride Comes Home to a House Planted in a Field.”
Forms and themes shift wildly even within some of the multi-part works. “A Blessing on the Tongue” — one of the highlights of the collection — starts off with a scene at the farmer’s market. Its focus on the sensory world heightens to the point of appreciating a King Lust apple nearly to the point of sensual love: “Sweet and rich,/​ the juice coats my hand, an apple in full,/​ an apple in spate.”
Then, seemingly overwhelmed by the apple itself, the poem breaks from reality in the next four sections, ranging from TS Eliot-esque allusion about royal eroticism to a versified breakdown of a Merriam-Webster entry on LUSH, a programming language. The speaker seems so obsessed by this apple that her brain overloads in free associations. “A Blessing on the Tongue” is a blessing to the reader — an intriguing exploration of both poetic form and the concepts of imagination and memory...."
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