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Works

Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse

Set in a mid-century carnival, this collection has a cover image painted by the author during studies at Coney Island Museum. The curator of that museum, Lisa Schaefer, said of the book, "Steeped in sideshow tradition, and addressing issues of race, gender, self-concept, and creative expression, your book is beautifully written."

To the Bones

To the Bones cover

Darrick MacBrehon, a government auditor, wakes among the dead. Bloodied and disoriented from a gaping head wound, the man who staggers out of the mine crack in Redbird, West Virginia, is much more powerful—and dangerous—than the one thrown in. An orphan with an unknown past, he must now figure out how to have a future.

Hard-as-nails Lourana Taylor works as a sweepstakes operator and spends her time searching for any clues that might lead to Dreama, her missing daughter. Could this stranger's tale of a pit of bones be connected? With help from disgraced deputy Marco DeLucca and Zadie Person, a local journalist  investigating an acid mine spill, Darrick and Lourana push against everyone who tries to block the truth. Along the way, the bonds of love and friendship are tested, and bodies pile up on both sides.

In a town where the river flows orange and the founding—and controlling—family is rumored to "strip a man to the bones," the conspiracy that bleeds Redbird runs as deep as the coal veins that feed it.

 

"This is the West Virginia novel done right: slam-bang storytelling in tightly controlled language, by turns horrific and funny and beautiful."
Pinckney Benedict, author of Miracle Boy and Other Stories

 

"A thrilling hike into coal country, Nieman's page-turner pulls off an audacious trick: empathy for a misunderstood region."
James Tate Hill, author of Academy Gothic

Hotel Worthy

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, Yale Younger Poets Prize winner

Blood Clay

Tracey Gaines has moved to rural Saul County, North Carolina, to escape the wreckage of a divorce and becomes a teacher at an alternative school. She devotes herself to renovating an old farmhouse but finds she can't as easily build connections in this new place. When the community splits, she finds an ally in Dave Fordham, a native son who struck out for new opportunities, only to face his own trauma and a forced return home. Elizabeth Stuckey-French says, "Val Nieman has written what is destined to become a classic novel of Southern life."

Neena Gathering

"Neena, a young girl in America fallen apart into little states, and devastated by a series of vicious little wars, is raised on a farm by her aunt. As the scattered survivors try to cope with the destruction of civilization, Neena encounters her neighbors, vicious and unscrupulous scavengers, men scarred chemically and psychologically by wars. Neena also learns decency and friendship, and struggles to create and preserve happiness and love in a world of danger, hardship and beauty. In the process, Neena brings the blessing of peace and contentment to the people around her."
In Other Worlds

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."
Fred Chappell, former Poet Laureate of North Carolina

Fidelities

Short stories from Appalachia and beyond.