Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Lisel Mueller says of Nieman’s work:
"Ultimately it's a writer's excellence as a writer, her strength of language, apart from all good intentions, that convinces us she is telling the truth. (Nieman) has an extraordinary sense of metaphor and a talent for expressive language that seems, at the same time, plain and straightforward, probably because it is so apt as to seem inevitable."
National Book Award Finalist Sarah Lindsay Praises Wake Wake Wake:
"Valerie Nieman writes poems with long tap roots, and poems with sharp beaks that strike swiftly. They cast off from the known, or fix the familiar with a clear gaze, and unmoor the reader either way. For a nameless hunger and restlessness, here are guide and supplies and hills to climb, all in one fine book."
Former NC Poet Laureate Fred Chappell Praises Wake Wake Wake
"Like the millwright in her poem, Valerie Nieman seems 'with bare hands (to) embrace live steam.' Wake Wake Wake is sinew and tendon, hard muscle and bruised bone; the volume sings with every inch of the body and every breath of the spirit. If she speaks of "hearing that we have all fallen short," she yet believes—she knows—'the way a path is best walked/not by looking down/but by looking out.' Would you be stout of heart, steadfast of purpose? Read Valerie Nieman."
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.
a novel by Valerie Nieman
9 X 6 Paperback, 200 pages
Wake Wake Wake
poems by Valerie Nieman
8 x5 paperback, 90 pages
“Blood Clay is a profoundly moving and beautifully written novel about a community torn apart by tragedy. Valerie Nieman is a writer of remarkable talent, and she has given us a book that, once read, will be hard for any reader to forget.”
— Ron Rash, author of Serena
“Blood Clay is both a tense, plot-driven story about complicated issues of race and guilt, and a meditation on solitude, history, and ways of living. The writing is wonderfully fluid, visual, and vivid, but above all these felicities of style, I’m most impressed by Valerie Nieman's candid treatment of difficult subject matter and the broadness of her canvas. It is thoughtful, brave, intelligent.”
— Jane Alison, author of The Sisters Antipodes: A Memoir
"There's violence here, and steamy sex, and strangeness aplenty, but Valerie Nieman's Blood Clay is no rural geekshow. This is a mature novel, full of living, breathing beings from whose passionate lives it is impossible to turn away. Books this fine are very rare indeed."
— Pinckney Benedict, author of Miracle Boy and Other Stories
“Blood Clay has it all. The novel’s audacious and gripping plot begins with a shotgun-blast of a scene in which a horrible dog attack sends reverberations through a small North Carolina town and the rest of the book. Val Nieman has written what is destined to become a classic novel of Southern life. I love this book.”
— Elizabeth Stuckey-French, author of The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady
Cover Artist Dorothy O'Connor
Press 53 . PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130-0314
Winner of the 2012 Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction
2012 Montaigne Award Finalist
(from Hotel Worthy)
Arms stretched wide,
right hand to the dawn,
left toward eventual night,
I face north.
As latitude rises,
forest to taiga,
to tundra, to permanent ice.
Everything will have
a name of cold:
polar bear, arctic fox,
glacier flea, snowy owl.
* * *
A compass is known to stray
from true north, lured
by the earth’s magnetic heart.
Now the needle swings
at the approach
of a frost spirit
from those barrens
I’ll have to cross
without a companion,
or a harness of wolf-dogs,
or good boots.
poems by Valerie Nieman
9 x 6 paperback
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
From the moment I read the title poem’s breathless rush of poignant reflections, I knew I was in the presence of a poet keen to explore life with searing honesty. She regularly dazzles with unexpected juxtapositions of experience. Framing a middling spousal argument in one poem is a riveting vision of an eagle. And although the narrator’s partner notices nothing, we notice, our hearts crushed by the thwarted longing for beauty and reconciliation. Prepare your heart—these are poems that matter.
—Marc Harshman, Poet Laureate of West Virginia, and author of Green-Silver and Silent: Poems
Valerie Nieman writes so intimately that I wondered if I had written her poems, and I wish I had. At the beginning of Hotel Worthy she releases her poems to the universe. In the prose poems her language grows so precise it is haunting. My favorite poem is "Choice of Words" in which she and her father become single in the same year. He is bereft whereas she is divorced, an act which is a "civilized/Coming apart/separated like an egg." Read this book for the surprising images folded into a remarkable journey.
—Glenna Luschei, poet, publisher, editor, philanthropist
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 roadmap for beginning again.
—Ansel Elkins, author of Blue Yodel, winner of the 2014 Yale Series of Younger Poets
Cover Artist Marko Nadj lives in Sombor, a city in the northern part of Serbia, where he goes to medical school. He discovered his passion for photography in 2011 at the age of 13. He says, “At the beginning, photography was only for fun, but as time passed I started to think about the meaning of my photographs as well as the message they sent to viewers.” Marko says he enjoys creating dark photographs, although they don’t have much in common with his personal life. He describes his work as poetic and mystical, and he likes heavily edited photos with a lot of textures. He also enjoys self portraits because they enable him to connect deeper with the characters he creates. He hopes that his story will prove to the world that art is available to people of all ages. You can find more of Marko’s photography on Facebook and Flickr.