Mother's Day: Thoughts on a Generation

T.S. Eliot wrote in “Little Gidding” that
We shall not cease from exploration
               And the end of all our exploring
              Will be to arrive where we started
               And know the place for the first time. Sometimes, the person we’re closest with can be the most difficult to comprehend. Lately I’ve been writing poems that reach back toward my mother, who died in 2012. Many of the poems arrived while I was hiking alone in Scotland. Like Cheryl Strayed in her Pacific Coast trek, it took solitude, as well as encounters with women across the Highland landscape who were mentors, guides, occasionally saviors, for me to begin to consider my mother’s life and my own as both a reaction to, and completion of, hers. My mother came out of that generation born in the Depression, their lives upended by the Second World War. Their thirst for experience, for travel, was whetted by the global upheaval – pins in world maps for the missing brothers, letters from distant ports – then qu…

People of the Word

I've been touring around with Hotel Worthysince it was released in March. I've read at Piccolo Spoleto and gotten to know beautiful Charleston, SC. It was a hot July Sunday when I read in the Joaquin Miller Poetry Series in Rock Creek Park - a real pleasure to join Grace Cavalieri for the first time.
Always, whether the event is large or small, local or distant, a
poetry reading draws the "People of the Word," those who treasure language and make the effort to seek it out in a noisy world. New friends and old - always the chance to make that connection.
I am looking forward to reading Oct. 9 for the Center for Women Writers at Salem College, then Oct. 10 in Fairmont, WV, for the 34th Kestrel Festival. It's hard to believe that it has been 34 years, 34 festivals, since I met Marty Lammon and John King to discuss starting a magazine. Sadly, John is no longer with us.
There will be old friends at both places - and new ones. I am excited about the Cervantes festival

Homeward Bound

I read the other day that Paul Simon wrote "Homeward Bound" while on a train trip in or around Manchester, England. That song was a favorite when I was a teenager, though I'd traveled no farther than Maine, and still calls up strong emotion when I hear it.
So it's not surprising that when I connected with the folks at Kestrel literary journal to appear again this year at the Kestrel Festival in October, that music began playing in my thoughts. Kestrel was a special part of my years in West Virginia, where I began my work as a writer, gained my first publications, and then was "brought into the fold" as a literary magazine editor with the nascent Kestrel.
Martin Lammon and the late John King and I would gather over coffee at the Poky Dot restaurant in Fairmont, WV, a classic "breakfast all day" diner that's been upscaled in recent years, to exchange our stacks of manuscripts and discuss what we liked, and what we weren't certain about. I…

Books by Valerie Nieman’s Bed

I enjoyed taking part in the "Books by the Bed" feature at We Wanted to Be Writers. It's a bit of a fiction, however, as I just chose a handful of volumes from the stacks by the bed, ignoring the musch larger deposits in the den, the living room, bathroom, etc. etc. They are everywhere. Hallelujah.

Books by Valerie Nieman’s Bed

Going Back to Brasstown

I was trying to explain the Folk School experience to a friend the other day. How nourishing it is, how you learn within the classroom and over meals and on rambles across the mountain landscape. How it is a place apart that returns you to the world restored. I am anticipating my return in July as both a teacher and then a student. In this interview for the John C. Campbell website, I talk about teaching and learning in a noncompetitive environment.

A visit with "Geosi Reads"

Technology can be a marvelous thing, especially when it links you with readers and writers all around the world.
That was the case with a blogger from Ghana, West-Africa, who posts at "Geosi Reads." He says, "I am a book addict and I just can’t stop reading. I am particularly interested in literary fiction, be it contemporary or classic and poetry."
It was a pleasure to correspond with Geoffrey and be interviewed by him about my work, from my first novel to my newest poetry collection. If you'd like to read the interview, click here.

Stunning Time-Lapse Reveals Auroras and Earth From Space

However you celebrate the turning of the year - wishing you light and happiness on our fragile blue planet.

Stunning Time-Lapse Reveals Auroras and Earth From Space