Valerie Nieman

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Valerie Nieman's latest book, Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse, joins two earlier collections from Press 53: Wake Wake Wake and Hotel Worthy. Her poems have appeared widely in journals and anthologies. She has held creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council. A novel published by Press 53, Blood Clay, received the Eric Hoffer Award, and her fourth novel, To the Bones, will be published in spring 2019 by West Virginia University Press. A graduate of West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte, she teaches writing at North Carolina A&T State University and at other venues including John C. Campbell Folk School. Visit Valerie’s website at for news, book tour information, and samples of her work.

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Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse by Valerie Nieman

ISBN 978-1-941209-89-9

9 x 6 paperback, 98 pages

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Hotel Worthy by Valerie Nieman

ISBN 978-1-941209-18-9

9 x 6 paperback

98 pages

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Wake Wake Wake by Valerie Nieman

ISBN 09772283-5-5

8 x5 paperback, 90 pages

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How We Live

from Wake Wake Wake


Bay leaf and pepper, mushrooms,
garlic, sometimes juniper berries,
vinegar and onion: I have my own
familiarity with the doe
you shot in our third field;
my hands trim
the yellow rinds of fat, wake
the spark lying quiet
in this dense red grove.
despite your scrupulousness,
I find a fine brown hair,
zoned with the colors
of concealment like fur from the cat’s back
or the way my hair turns white.

Some people cannot abide wild
meat, the resinous aroma,
the color
like knife-openings
in the palms of their hands,
blood loamy as old
wine and thick, unmingled with water.
To eat and live:
like breathing in and out,
and acknowledged or not
there is always
some spiral toward coldness.

Still, those of us who eat
have a duty to know—to hunker down
and smell fresh droppings gleaming
like berries on the path,
hear the snort of the lead doe
warning into flight
a band of yearlings,
in uncut fields
to walk our way into the beds of deer,
rounded as the stopping-place
of boulders, where a moraine
knuckles under inexorable glacier.