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Praise from the experts for Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse

"Steeped in sideshow tradition, and addressing issues of race, gender, self-concept, and creative expression, your book is beautifully written." Many thanks to the Coney Island Museum for these comments, and for an invitation to appear in the "Ask the Expert" lecture series on Oct. 6.

A tale told by two voices, Dinah, the Leopard Lady, whose journey from a Dickensian childhood as a biracial orphan in Appalachia ends her with the carnival in a series of roles, and The Professor, also a runaway, who seeks to escape his failures of the spirit.


"Unique, deeply moving, funny, and withal composed on the edge of danger and enlightenment, Leopard Lady is masterful. Nieman's syntax, rhymes, meter and scenes make music while the reader is charged with an energy that takes us closer and closer to the singular truth we must bear." Kelly Cherry

To the Bones release set

My latest novel, To the Bones, is now in the Spring Catalog from West Virginia University Press.
I'm honored to have my work appearing with this fine press, which also published my short story collection Fidelities some years back.
This is a literary genre mashup, with elements of the Appalachian tall tale, zombie lit, romance, Celtic legends, and eco-justice story.

"Some folks say his appearance portends the Rapture, but in an Appalachian town ravaged by ecological catastrophe, one waylaid stranger discovers new and strange powers that may end a lethal coal mining empire."

A bit frazzled after a morning of trout fishing in County Cavan, Ireland.

Valerie Nieman is the author of four novels: To the Bones, coming in 2019; Blood Clay, a novel of the New South, which was honored with the Eric Hoffer Prize in General Fiction; a novel about the Rust Belt of the 1970s, Survivors; and her first book, Neena Gathering, reissuedin 2012 as a classic in the post-apocalyptic genre. A fourth book, Backwater, is now in submission, and research for a new novel included a month hiking solo in Scotland.

Her third poetry collection, Leopeard Lady: A Life in Verse, debuted in October with a reading at the Coney Island Museum. Her second poetry collection, Hotel Worthy, appeared in 2015 from Press 53, and poems from that book were nominated for The Pushcart Prize and Best Short Fictions of 2016, where the title poem was a finalist. She is also the author of Wake Wake Wake, and a collection of short stories, Fidelities.

She was a 2013-2014 North Carolina Arts Council poetry fellow, and has received an NEA creative writing fellowship as well as major grants in West Virginia and Kentucky. Her awards include the Greg Grummer, Nazim Hikmet, and Byron Herbert Reece poetry prizes.

Nieman graduated from West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte. A former newspaper reporter and editor, she now teaches creative writing at North Carolina A&T State University and at venues ranging from the John C. Campbell Folk School to WriterHouse.