Featured Writer: Nadia Wolnisty

artwork by Marco Zavala

artwork by Marco Zavala

edited by Misti Morrison

Spiderweb Salon would like to introduce Nadia Wolnisty as our next featured writer. We’re excited about the recent publication of her new chapbook, A Zoo, which was released by Finishing Line Press. A Zoo includes her featured poem below, and Nadia had this to say about creating the collection that it calls home: I wrote the poems for A Zoo over the years, from 2012-2017. I created the cover poem "Fear the Animals" after a friend suddenly passed. He was so indestructible that he reminded me of the extremophile, the tardigrade. When I wrote the poem in 2015, the loss was still new, and taking it head-on seemed too much for me. I wrote instead of the tardigrade, and the strange loss that comes with their disappearance.

Nadia also had this stunning gem of advice to share for other artists seeking to make their voice heard: People always tell me I write fearlessly, and I say thank you. But I am not. I shake, inside and out. Honor your fear. You should be afraid. Do it anyways.

When we asked Nadia how she became involved with Spiderweb Salon, she replied “Courtney Marie made me be her friend.” Well, we’re glad that it worked and that now we get to count Nadia as a good friend and a talented member of our community.

Fear the Animals

for A.E.


We feared the animals leaving,
but always we knew what to say
with each passing.

When the honeybees fell mid-flight,
we said The scientists, the activists,
they were right. Something to do
with the pollutants, the pesticides mostly.

And we knew what we would tell our children
if they ever saw pictures in history books.
The helicopter-flies. They danced back and forth
and made a golden syrup of spun flower
to make our food palatable.

Same with the last polar bear.
Oh, we tried, we tried.
The ice caps outraced evolution, and
we couldn't teach anything how to win.
The last one, a male, we think, died in a Coca-Cola zoo,
thin, patchy, like a thrift-store sweater.

We said to the children: We'll take you
to the tomb some day, if it's still open.
The stone says the bear's dates and name: Majestic.


But when the waterbears went,
the tardigrades, the moss-pigs,
we didn't know what we would say.

All over the globe,
even the ones we shot into space,
they just curled up like fists one morning,
as if they all vomited tiny universes.

The scientists were calm, at first,
hoping that the waterbears were hibernating,
because that is what survivors do,
and that they would come back,
with eight spiny limbs bursting,
shouting Surprise, surprise.

But the bodies began to decay,
flakes floating in grotesque arabesques.
We saw grainy videos of the bodies dissolving
and thought music ought to play.

Because if they can't, then we can't.
We aren't built for whatever is coming.
We need cars and can-openers and
and a series of descending shelters:
atmosphere, home, clothes.
Pills to sleep, and when we dream,
it gives off radiation.

And when one of our own dies,
we spend all night in a shitty apartment
full of vodka and grown men crying
because he was dead,
and there was nothing else we could do.

Tardigrades need none of those things,
not even air, and lead simple lives,
barely noticeable, gathering fuel.
What to tell the children of their passing?

Because it felt like if they can't do it, then we can't.
Our armor isn't made for pesticide and zoos
or outer space or oceans or desert, and our armor is
more flimsy than flowers or water.
                                              ….And yet, reader, here we are.

About Nadia: I am a poet, artist, and performer in Dallas, Texas. My work has appeared in MadSwirl.Com, Apogee, Philosophical Idiot, Spry, McNeese Review, Essay Daily, Paper & Ink, and the Art Uprising anthology “Desolate Country,” among others. I have two chapbooks: Manual from Cringe-Worthy Poetry and A Zoo from Finishing Line Press. A chapbook and a full-length are forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press and Spartan.

If you’d like your work to be featured by Spiderweb Salon, send us your work through our submissions page. We’d love to have you as a friend.

Nadia Wolnisty | photo by courtney marie

Nadia Wolnisty | photo by courtney marie

P.S. Don't miss out on the release party for A Zoo on February 10 in Dallas!