For Debbie McGill's Farewell party, I wrote a poem for her, which I thought you might like to see. The short poem before it is today's ncpoetlaureate header, written by a 5th grader at an elementary school in Taylorsville. I received 48 poems from the 5th grade!
Bring me all your hopes,
Bring me all your heartbeats of hope.
That I may wrap them in a deep red cloth,
Away from the rejecting souls of the world. -CB -----Sugar Loaf Elementary School
(Jennifer Nettles, of Sugarland. Getty Images)
(a letter-poem written for Debbie McGill while traveling back home to North Carolina)
Dear Debbie, Last night I watched the Country Music Awards,
thinking all the way through it how seldom real melody
burst through that slick Nashville razzle-dazzle: The worst of it?
A black leather mini-dress hugging a backside that looked to be
bigger than mine. Or, those false sequined eyelashes
three inches long on the bland baby-blues of the mistress of ceremonies--
two dozen changes of wardrobe and two dozen layers
of lipstick! Why did I keep watching? Waiting for Sugarland,
the duo from Georgia whose singer wears nary a false eyelash
and does her own hair.* Who sings like a dove
or a diva, depending on whichever song she writes. Heck, why be pompous
about it? A good song’s a good poem. And Lordy, how I wanted one
to rise out of that racket and make me sit stock still and listen.
We both wanted that, you and me, and for almost four years we found
it. Well, most of the time. Yep, we made a good Search Party,
savvy and just enough serious, just enough silly to giggle through
e-mails and telephone calls, and you patient enough to put up with
my own diva tantrums. ( You know what I’m talking about!)
Now I feel like I’m losing my lodestar, my compass, my native scout
leading the way through the sagebrush. A real poet herself,
though she never would talk about that. Whose editor’s pen
could work magic. (Pero siempre con palabras muy dulce.)
I found my own Sugarland there at the Arts Council,
the two of us singing duets that we’ll never forget,
like a good country song, or the aria I’m listening to now
on the radio, praising the ongoing sweetness of art. Love you,
* Jennifer Nettles
Below, a new country music duo (now that Debbie is no longer Literature Director, she can be the real poet that she is): The Sweet Heartbeats! Stay tuned to your favorite country blogspot for their songs!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
A surprised Nancy Simpson was honored at the Celebration of Books and published authors and poets on Thursday evening, July 17. After a day at John C. Campbell Folk School where Nancy presented to the North Carolina Arts Council Board along with Kathryn Byer, she found herself acclaimed by award winning poets and recently published poets who began their writing in her classes at the Folk School, or in one of her many classes at Tri-County Community School. Glenda Barrett, whose chapbook, When the Sap Rises, was published by Finishing Line Press, brought a painting of mountains and Lake Chatuge that she had done for Nancy. Kathryn Byer, Poet Laureate of North Carolina and Debbie McGill, Literary Arts Director for the NC Arts Council spoke about when they first met Nancy. "I met Nancy when I came to read in Hayesville at the library when my daughter was a babe in my arms," Kay said. She went on to talk about her admiration of Nancy as a poet. She wanted us to realize that Nancy Simpson, while a wonderful teacher and leader, was first and foremost, a poet.
Debbie remembered how tenacious Nancy had been about Netwest and would not take "NO" for an answer when it came to getting what was needed for writers here in the rural mountains of North Carolina.
Brenda Kay Ledford, award winning poet, spoke about her first class with Nancy and how so many of us who were present Thursday evening, met in Nancy's classes. Glenda Barrett and Mary Ricketson expressed gratitude for Nancy's encouragement to those of us who call her our mentor. Mother and daughter, Dorothea Spiegel and Linda Smith, both met Nancy in one of her classes. Dorothea is likely one of the best poets in the area. She is in her 80's now and still writes excellent poems.
Netwest presented Nancy with a check to add to her computer fund. She is saving for a much-needed new Mac, and we want her to continue to write poetry and finish the historical novel she has begun.
Also, she will need it for her work on the proposed new Netwest anthology she will be editing.
There is no financial value we can put on the dedication and generosity Nancy devoted to NCWN West for thirteen years. Without her constant efforts to obtain funding, to maintain interest in all the counties represented, and keep mountain writers connected to each other and to Raleigh and Chapel Hill, we would not have continued as a program of NCWN.