Valerie Nieman is a novelist, poet, short story writer, travel writer, literary magazine editor, and teacher.
Blood Clay is her third novel - two earlier works also delved into the nature of family and community. Her 2000 novel Survivors took readers into the hard lives and hard times of a West Virginia factory town in the early 1970s. Fred Chappell said, “Survivors is a jolt to the system…. Valerie Nieman pulls no punches. What she calls ‘unleashed reality’ roars through every sentence. Unforgettable.” Her first novel, Neena Gathering, was a science fiction tale set in the Appalachians.
Fidelities, her collection of short fiction, features stories set in rural areas from the Alleghenies to the Carolina Piedmont, most of them published in journals such as The Kenyon Review and Arts & Letters, and in anthologies such as Degrees of Elevation and Racing Home: New Stories by Award-Winning North Carolina Authors.
Her poetry collection, Wake Wake Wake, was published in 2006. Her work has been selected in two national chapbook competitions and appeared in such journals as Poetry, North Carolina Literary Review, Blackbird, New Letters, REDiViDER, andtheSouthern Poetry Review, as well as numerous anthologies, most recently After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events and Southern Appalachian Poetry: An Anthology of Works by 37 Poets.
Her awards have included an NEA fellowship, the 1998 and 2002 Elizabeth Simpson Smith prizes for the best short story by a writer in the Carolinas, fellowships from the West Virginia Humanities Commission and Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the 1999 Greg Grummer Prize in poetry from Phoebe.
She teaches writing workshops at venues including North Carolina Writers Network and the John C. Campbell Folk School. Currently the poetry editor of Prime Number, she was a founding editor of Kestrel: A Journal of Literature and Art in the New World and for many years a director of the associated literary conference.
Nieman graduated from West Virginia University and worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for more than a quarter-century. She completed her MFA in creative writing at Queens University of Charlotte in 2004 and has been on the faculty at North Carolina A&T State University since 2000, where she is now an associate professor teaching in the undergraduate creative writing concentration.