Showing posts with label Kathryn Stripling Byer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kathryn Stripling Byer. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Three poets from NCWN-West featured in ETSU's Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine

Three poets from North Carolina Writers' Network West have poems featured in East Tennessee State University's Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine. The issue is titled "The Future of Appalachia", Vol. 32, No. 2.  Here is the link for the publication:

Nancy Simpson's poem "Accounting" appears from her book, Living Above the Frost Line: New and Selected Poems, Carolina Wren Press.Simpson is the author of three poetry collections: Across Water, Night Student and Living Above the Frost Line, New and Selected Poems published at Carolina Wren Press. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a B.S. in Education from Western Carolina University. She received a N.C. Arts Fellowship and co-founded NC Writers' Network-West, a non profit professional writing organization serving writers living in the remote mountains west of Asheville. For more than thirty years she has been known as “beloved teacher” to thousands of young writers.

Simpson’s poems have been published in The Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, Seneca Review, New Virginia Review, Prairie Schooner and in other literary magazines. Her poem, “Night Student” was reprinted in the anthology Word and Wisdom, 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry and in Literary Trails of North Carolina. Seven of her poems are featured in Southern Appalachian Poetry, a textbook anthology published at McFarland Press. The Southern Poetry Review, Armstrong College in Savannah, Georgia included one of her poems in their 50th Anniversary issue, Don't Leave Hungry and a new poem in their recent issue featuring Georgia poets. Her poem “Carolina Bluebirds” was included in The Poets Guide to Birds, an anthology edited by Judith Kitchen and Ted Kooser, and her poem “Pink Pantsuit” was featured recently in Ted Kooser’s widely read “American Life in Poetry” newspaper column.

Kathryn Stripling Byers' poem "Last Light" is included from the book Descent, LSU press. Byer was raised on a farm in Southwest Georgia, where the material for much of her first poetry originated. She graduated from Wesleyan College, Macon, Georgia, with a degree in English literature, and afterward, received her MFA degree from UNC-Greensboro, where she studied with Fred Chappell and Robert Watson, as well as forming enduring friendships with James Applewhite and Gibbons Ruark. After graduation she worked at Western Carolina University, becoming Poet-in-Residence in 1990.

Her poetry, prose, and fiction have appeared widely, including Hudson Review, Poetry, The Atlantic, Georgia Review, Shenandoah, and Southern Poetry Review. Often anthologized, her work has also been featured online, where she maintains the blogs "Here, Where I Am," and "The Mountain Woman." Her body of work was discussed along with that of Charles Wright, Robert Morgan, Fred Chappell, Jeff Daniel Marion, and Jim Wayne Miller in Six Poets from the Mountain South, by John Lang, published by LSU Press. Her first book of poetry, The Girl in the Midst of the Harvest, was published in the AWP Award Series in 1986, followed by the Lamont (now Laughlin) prize-winning Wildwood Flower, from LSU Press. Her subsequent collections have been published in the LSU Press Poetry Series, receiving various awards, including the Hanes Poetry Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Poetry Award, and the Roanoke-Chowan Award.

Byers served for five years as North Carolina's first woman poet laureate. She lives in the mountains of western North Carolina with her husband and three dogs and is a Jackson County Representative for the North Carolina Writers’ Network-West.

Glenda Barrett's poem "The Minnie Shook Place" appears from her book When the Sap Rises, Finishing Line Press. Barrett, a native of Hiawassee, Georgia, is an artist, poet, and writer. Her work has been widely published yearly since her first writing class in 1997 and has appeared in: Woman's World, Farm & Ranch Living, Country Woman, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Journal of Kentucky Living, Nantahala Review, Rural Heritage, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Kaleidoscope Magazine and many more.

Her poetry chapbook, When the Sap Rises, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2008. She has completed two more books since that time, a full-length poetry book which is currently under review by a publisher and a book of Appalachian essays. Barrett worked many years in various healthcare system jobs and retired due to a form of Muscular Dystrophy.

Barrett is very grateful to be able to devote her time to the two things she loved as a child, painting and writing. She has two grown children and lives with her husband of forty-two years in the North Georgia mountains.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Women Who Have Made A Difference

Jack J. Prather has interviewed and written a most interesting book on Six Notable Women of North Carolina. Our own NCWN West member, and first woman Poet Laureate of North Carolina, Kathryn Stripling Byer is one of them. A number of Byer's poems are included with her memories of growing up in southwest Georgia and moving to the mountains as an adult.  

Photographs of the subjects' families and their peers throughout their careers create even more interest in each woman's story. The journey of Kay Byer begins with her childhood years and moves on to her school years. She discusses her marriage, her family and, of course, poetry. I like that she gives advice to young poets. "I think writers should imitate and assimilate what they love, and what speaks to them, and then innovate." A sense of place is most important in poetry according to Byer. 

I found the interview with Sharon Decker, former NC Commerce Secretary and Duke Power VP, one of the most intriguing. Decker is one of the women who broke the glass ceiling in the man's corporate world and political arena. Her energy and ambition to make a difference makes her an excellent role model for young women of today. She says she loves negotiating and bringing divergent ideas to the table where opinions can be changed or resolved into a peaceful solution. 

Kathy Reichs is a successful novelist and the inspiration for the television show, Bones. She studied physical anthropology at Northwestern and earned a Ph.D. She became an anthropology professor and one of only two women to attain full professorships in that department at UNC Charlotte.
"Blending science and crossing boundaries is a recurring theme for me," Reichs says.

It was her interest in physical anthropology which combines the human people studies with the hard sciences of biology, biomechanics and physiology that led her eventually to forensic anthropology.

Another woman of note, Reichs is one of only 101 forensic anthropologists to ever be certified. She began thinking about writing a novel in 1990, but in 1994 she completed her debut novel, Deja Dead, which found its way to a junior editor at Scribner. Publisher Susan Moldow offered Reichs a two-book deal worth 1.2 million, and the rest is history. She stays busy with book tours, writing novels and producing scripts for the TV show, Bones.

Other notable women in Prather's book are Jennifer Pharr Davis, World Appalachian Trail Record Hiker, Anne Ponder, Chancellor Emerita, UNC at Asheville, and Millie Ravenel, Founder, Center for International Understanding.

Jack Prather does an outstanding job of asking the right questions and editing the stories he collected. I hope this book is in our libraries and in our schools. These women have blazed trails that younger generations will now find easier to follow. Life doesn't always run the course we plan, but we make choices, and that is where Prather reveals the humanistic side of each of his subjects in this book.

See the podcast of Jack's interview on Your Carolina:

This book can be ordered on
Jack J. Prather

Review by Glenda Council Beall,
writer, interviewer, and director of Writers Circle around the Table 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Naming of new poet laureate stirred up controversy this week

The literary world of North Carolina has been buzzing the past week with the appointment of a poet laureate by Governor McCrory who did not go through the normal process of working with the NC Arts Council to selectthe best person for this important post.
Our own Netwest member and first woman poet laureate of North Carolina, Kathryn Stripling Byer spoke out online in numerous Facebook posts about the selection of Valerie Macon, poet from Fuquay-Varina whose literary credits seem to be two self-published books of poetry. 

Byer along with three other past poets laureate issued a statement criticizing the process used by the governor.
"Instituted and administered expertly and transparently by the North Carolina Arts Council - which has our unqualified support and loyalty - the process insured that the poet laureate, ultimately appointed by the governor, was indeed a poet and educator of singular accomplishment, someone not only with a literary reputation in North Carolina, but beyond," their statement said. "The fact that that process was not recognized in the most recent appointment has resulted in disaster."

Although Macon is an advocate for the homeless and writes about their plight, she is not considered by most poets yet worthy to hold this honor. Those who struggle to perfect verse that is accepted and published by highly respected presses, who win awards for their work and who are recognized as leaders in their arts community were shocked to see that someone who was relatively an unknown, had been chosen over more qualified people.

A great example of what a poet laureate should be is Kathryn Byer who is recognized nationally and internationally for her work. FredChapell, former Poet Laureate has been published far and wide and is known throughout the literary world. Cathy SmithBowers and Joseph Bathanti, two recent poets laureate, also have outstanding resumes.

Some wonder, was the selection of Ms. Macon, who has now resigned, a deliberate poke at the literary community at large or was it complete ignorance as the governor has claimed. He indicated he did not know about the protocol whereby poets are recommended through the Arts Council and their works carefully examined before any of their names reach the governor’s desk. He said it was not written on the walls, so how was he to know? 

I was told that the Arts Council sent the governor a packet of information informing him of the credentials of past laureates and the manner in which they were chosen. I assume he will be forced to follow protocol now that Valerie Macon has resigned. 

It has certainly stirred up the poetry community and made North Carolina look inept to those in the country who follow such things. I received calls from Netwest members and from the local newspapers with questions about the botched appointment. The larger newspapers in this state have carried articles on the subject.

 Below are some links you might want to read for more information.

What do you think? Leave your comments at the bottom of this post.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"Singing It Forward" With Kathryn Stripling Byer at the Lanier Library Poetry Festival

What: Lanier Library Poetry Festival

Where: 72 Chestnut Street, Tryon, North Carolina 28782

When: April 26, 2014

April in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is a beautiful month, one might even say pure poetry. So please join Kathryn Stripling Byer and other celebrated poets, including Joseph Bathanti, at the Lanier Library on April 26, 2014, for a day of inspiration, education and a sociable gathering of creative minds.

The Lanier Library in Tryon, North Carolina will be hosting a new literary festival celebrating one of the most beloved and advanced forms of literature in the history of the written word: POETRY.

They have invited some of the country’s most respected poets to lead a variety of writing workshops; to discuss poetry’s importance in our lives; to offer publication advice; and to give free public readings of their work and autograph their books.

A highlight of the day is a catered luncheon with honored guest Mark Doty. Doty has published eight collections of his poetry, including Fire to Fire, which won the coveted National Book Award in Poetry in 2008.  The festival concludes with a public reception at the Lanier Library to announce the winners of the sixth annual Sidney Lanier Poetry Competition (open to poets in North and South Carolina and Georgia). 

This year’s judge of the competition is current North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti, who will speak at the reception.  In addition, the prize recipients will read their winning poems.  Hors d’oeuvres and wine will be served.

Registration deadline is April 15. For a registration form and full details:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Great opportunity for Mountain Writers

If you don't know about the Squire Summer Residency at Western Carolina University sponsored by your NCWN, please click on the link below and see what is offered. You can apply for a scholarship to this exciting and interesting weekend with three of the best writers in their field.

"Those fifteen hours of workshop time will create a community of common ground, a safe place to refine and polish your work, and maybe the opportunity and inspiration to try something new. Morning and afternoon breaks between workshop sessions give writers a leisurely writing period."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Netwest member, Kathryn Stripling Byer, elected to NCWN Board of Directors

NCWN West member Kathryn Stripling Byer has been elected to the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Writers' Network along with a writer from the far eastern part of the state and one from the Raleigh area. Read more here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Poetry book by Kathryn Stripling Byer

Kathryn Stripling Byer's new book of poetry, Descent,  is coming in  October.  Outstanding cover. Great poetry.
She will read from this book when she is inducted in the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame at Southern Pines. 
The book launch for the public will be at Malaprop's Bookstore, November 11.

Descent is Byer's sixth book of poetry, and it won rave reviews from the best poets. You can read about it on her new website.

Congratulations, Kay! Your fellow NCWN West members are extremely happy for you.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kathryn Stripling Byer recently read her poem " Last Light" to Welcome Western Carolina University's new Chancellor David Belcher.

NCWN West members may remember that "Last Light" is one of Kathryn Stripling Byer's poems that was included in our recent anthology  Echoes Across the Blue Ridge Stories, Essays and Poems by Writers Living in and Inspired by the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Check out your copy, read the poem or read it here on line:

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I long to hold onto the last, lazy days of summer. One event that lets me do that is the Annual N.C. Writers Network West Picnic, which is held somewhere in the western North Carolina Mountains each second Sunday in September. This year the
19th annual picnic was held on the picnic grounds at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee on September 12, 2010.

The picnic was hosted by NCWN West's Program Coordinator Kathryn Stripling Byer and the Jackson County members. The food was the best ever and showed someone did some serious planning. Kathryn Stripling Byer is NC Poet Laureate Emerita. Her many books of published poetry can be bought at Louisiana State University Press and on Amazon.Com, including Black Shawl, Coming to Rest and Catching Light.

Each year the writers' network invites a special guest to read from their newly published writing or someone who has something to celebrate. This year's special guest was N.C.'s newly named Poet Laureate, Cathy Smith Bowers.

A native of South Carolina, Cathy Smith Bowers has enjoyed a long poetry career. In 1990 she received General Electric's Award for younger poets. She was named the N.C. Poet Laureate by Governor Bev Purdue and was crowned with laurels on Feb. 10, 2010 in Raleigh. NC Writers living in the Netwest area said they were honored to have her come to the far western part of the state to read and share her writing with them.

During the Open Mic session several members read a brief sample of their work: Dorothea Spiegel probably traveled the fartherest, coming from her new home in Tennessee. She read three poems, one which was included in the newly published anthology ECHOES ACROSS THE BLUE RIDGE (Winding Path Publishing) . Poet Clarence Newton came from Young Harris, Georgia. Jayne Joudon Ferrer also traveled a long way from South Carolina. She read two poems, one from the new anthology, and Linda M. Smith of Hayesville read one poem from ECHOES .... Nancy Simpson read three poems from her newly published collection, LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE (Carolina Wren Press.) Brenda Kay Ledford of Hayesville read her title poem from her chapbook SACRED FIRE ( Finishing Line Press).

Writer Dick Michener from Waynesville manned the Members' BOOKS FOR SALE table.

It was a special day. All who were there wished for more summer days.

Saturday, March 20, 2010




Hello Felow Poets and Friends of Poetry,

Living Above the Frost Line is a site that promotes poetry, especially poems written by Southern and Appalachian poets. Some poets featured in the past (found in the archive still) are Kathryn Stripling Byer, Bettie M. Sellers, John Stone, Janice Townley Moore, Glenda Barrett, Glenda Beall, and many others.

Ruth Moose of Chappel Hill, NC is the featured poet for the month of March, 2010.

Brenda Kay Ledford will be the featured poet in her birth month--April, 2010.

The featured poet is chosen by Nancy Simpson. Most of the poets featured are members of N C Writers Network West, have a book or books published and currently have a book for sale. They may be featured at any time, but birth month is preferred. It is not too soon or too late to have a few of your poems featured with a photo and a short bio. Short stories and memoir chapters are also sometimes reprinted, such as in the recently featured work of Dana Wildsmith.

To have your poetry featured and your book announced, please contact poet Nancy Simpson at
LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE. or through e mail

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Congratulations to my mentor and my friend, Nancy Simpson. Her book, Living Above the Frostline – New and Selected Poems, will be published by Carolina Wren Press, Durham, NC.
 Nancy’s poetry collection spans thirty-two years and is the first book chosen by Kathryn Stripling Byer for Carolina Wren’s Laureate Series.

For over thirty years, Nancy’s poetry has been published in the best literary magazines. Early on in her writing career, Nancy published two books, Night Student and Across Water. But Nancy, working at the time as a special needs teacher, was also quietly dedicating herself to other writers in her home area of western North Carolina. She took on the leadership of the writing organization, NCWN West, and she taught writing and poetry in night classes at Tri-County Community College.

Before she knew it, the years had flown and she had not published another book. When she retired from her job, she put her efforts into a new manuscript. Through family tragedies and health problems she endured, never wavering from her goal of publishing a complete collection of her poetry.

This book is a landmark, in a way. We all know that youth reigns in this country. Older men are revered for their achievements, but often women over fifty are dismissed, no matter how talented or special their work. That is why I applaud Carolina Wren Press and Kathryn Stripling Byer for choosing this book to publish as the first in the Laureate Series.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Byer, Duncan, and Woloch at Malaprop's Bookstore this Sunday

Two reading/signing events are scheduled for this weekend, both featuring Cecilia Woloch and Kathryn Stripling Byer. On Saturday Night, Byer, Woloch, and Mary Adams will read from their new books at Cith Lights Bookstore at 7:00. Mary Adams chapbook Commandment was recently published in the Spring Street Editions Chapbook Series.

On Sunday, December 6, 2009, Malaprop's Bookstore/Café (55 HaywoodStreet in downtown Asheville, NC) will host poets Kathryn StriplingByer reading from ARETHA'S HAT: INAUGURATION DAY, 2009; Julia NunnallyDuncan with AN ENDLESS TAPESTRY and new, unpublished poems; andCecilia Woloch, author of CARPATHIA.

Kathryn Stripling Byer, poet laureate of North Carolina from 2005through June 30, 2009, was born in Southwest Georgia but moved to NorthCarolina in 1968 and has lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains ever since.She is the author of five poetry books, including COMING TO REST(2006), and most recently (in collaboration with Penelope ScamblySchott) of the chapbook ARETHA'S HAT: INAUGURATION DAY, 2009. Writingon the topic "Why We Love North Carolina" for the February 2009 issueof Our State magazine, Kathryn Stripling Byer noted these particularhighlights of her term as Poet Laureate: the "generous community of[North Carolina] writers . . . who continue to amaze me with theirtalent and energy" and most of all, "the students I've met in ourschools . . . these young faces looking back at me, ready to say whothey are. May we all listen well to them." As poet laureate, KathrynStripling Byer's primary goal was to "help make poetry accessible in asmany ways as I could," through frequent visits to schools and withwriting groups; appearances at bookstores, literary events, and avariety of public celebrations; a regularly updated poetry page on theNorth Carolina Arts Council web site; and her own generous laureateblog -- as well as by continuing to write and give public readings of herown poetry. In the process, she has demonstrated the perseverance andconstant delicate balance of energies required to lead a very publiclife as a dedicated writer. Asked why she writes poetry, she recentlyreplied, "It's the best way I know to sing with the world" (Writer'sDigest interview with Robert Lee Brewer, July 2009). We are very happyto welcome Kathryn Stripling Byer back to "sing" her poetry at Malaprop's.

Julia Nunnally Duncan writes both poetry and fiction. She haspreviously published two collections of stories and a novel, and hersecond novel, WHEN DAY IS DONE, is just out from March Street Press.Her Appalachian poems have appeared in scores of literary journals,and her first published collection of poetry, AN ENDLESS TAPESTRY(2007), was named a finalist for the 2008 Roanoke-Chowan Award forPoetry. She recently completed the manuscript for a second collectionof poems, AT DUSK. Rob Neufeld, book columnist for The AshevilleCitizen-Times, wrote of Julia Nunnally Duncan that she is one of fourWestern North Carolina "poets to watch." He remarked that her poems"make the greatest possible use of line breaks, so that individualphrases glow like haiku observations. Metaphors develop naturally and emotionally." In a recent article in North Carolina Literary Review, Jeffrey Franklin observed of AN ENDLESS TAPESTRY, "Duncan always makes the place solid, the people real, the situation, in all its emotional complexity and perilousness, rendered with a deceptive simplicity that quietly resonates. . . .[Her] people are as recognizably human as any in Shakespeare[.]" Like our other readers for December 6, Julia Nunnally Duncan is at once a dedicated writer and an experienced teacher; she has served as a full-time English instructor at McDowell Community College for nearly two and a half decades. At Malaprop's, she will read selections from AN ENDLESS TAPESTRY and from her manuscript, AT DUSK.

CARPATHIA is Cecilia Woloch's fifth poetry collection. Published in2009, it went into a second printing about two months after itsofficial publication date. Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize-winningpoet, has written of CARPATHIA, "The poems . . . are guided by anexquisite lyricism and heartbreaking emotional honesty. . . . This isa gorgeous book by a poet who is passionately alive in the world."Cecilia Woloch has traveled widely and taught just as widely, offeringpoetry workshops for children and adults across the United States andin several locations abroad. She serves as a lecturer in creativewriting at the University of Southern California and is foundingdirector of the Paris Poetry Workshop. The recipient of numerousawards for her writing, teaching and theatre work, in 2009 alone,Cecilia Woloch has been recognized as a finalist in the CaliforniaBook Awards of The Commonwealth Club of California for her 2008chapbook, NARCISSUS; as a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize inPoetry at Nimrod; as the first prize winner of the New Ohio ReviewPrize in Poetry; and as a Fellow at the Center for InternationalTheatre Development/US Artists Initiative in Poland.

Please join us in welcoming three distinguished poets on December 6,and begin your holiday season with poetry!Poetrio: Kathryn Stripling Byer, Julia Nunnally Duncan, Celia WolochSunday, December 6, 2009, 3:00 p.m.Malaprop's Bookstore/Café55 Haywood StreetAsheville, NC 28801(828)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Blue Ridge Book and Author Showcase - I'm Still High!

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, poet and Netwest Rep for South Carolina is always gracious and friendly. Even though her books had not been ordered for the book fair, she gained many new friends and names for her newsletter.

Bob Greenwald and his group of volunteers conducted a full day of activities for writers and book lovers.Above is Kathryn Stripling Byer and Robert Morgan, author of the new novel Boone.

Friday, November 28, 2008

An Appalachian Songbook by Kathryn Stripling Byer

On Thanksgiving Day, I had something special for dessert. WDAV fm station ran the recording of "An Appalachian Songbook," a composition by Kenneth Frazelle, with soprano Jacquelyn Culpepper, pianist Phillip Bush, and me reading poems from WILDWOOD FLOWER and BLACK SHAWL interwoven into the musical fabric. This recording was made at St. Peter's Church, where the Charlotte Chamber Music Series has become a popular program in the area. You may download it at, where you will also find information about the performers. (

Here are two poems from the program:


No, I'll not listen.
The sound of it's too sweet,
like honey I licked from the spoon
while he sat on my porch
and played Shady Grove.
"You are the darling of my heart,
stay till the sun goes down."

I remember the hoot owl came closer.
Moths burned their wings in his candle wick.
"Midnight," I said,
and his fingers stirred wind from the strings,
begging, Stay, while he cradled the wood in his lap

for a last song, the hazel-
green eyes of a lost lady.
Weep Willow.
Soul of the laurel shade.

"Come," he said, pointing through dark
to the bed of leaves
we'd gathered, wildflowers strewn
on a pillow of moss.
But I sent him away,
letting go of his hand
without whispering as I do
now when my wits fail me, oh my
sweet, nothing
but sweet
good for nothing man.

from Black Shawl, (LSU press 1998)


Last night I stood
ringing my empty glass
under the black empty sky
and beginning, of all

things, to sing. The mountains
paid no attention.
The cruel ice did not
melt. But just for a moment

the hoot owl grew silent.
And somewhere the wolves
hiding out in their dens
opened cold, sober eyes.

Here's to you I sang,
meaning the midnight
the dark moon
the empty well,

meaning myself
upon whom
the snow fell
without any apology.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Congratulations to Netwest Consultant and past Program Coordinator, Nancy Simpson. Her new weblog, LivingAbove the Frost Line is listed on as one of the top ten blogs representing Appalachian culture.

And even more kudos to Nancy. Her poetry, and that of Netwest Consultant and NC Poet Laureate, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Fred Chappel and other outstanding mountain poets, is included in a new book edited by Merita Garin.
SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN POETRY has been published by McFarland Press as No. 20 in its Southern Appalachian Studies Series.
Read more about this book on Nancy's blog.

Nancy Simpson lives above the frost line on a mountain in Hayesville, NC where she writes free verse poetry and is working on an historical novel. Her poetry collections include Night Student and Across Water published by State Street Press.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Authors round the south and Rob Neufield

Please take a look at and you will be pleased at all this site has to offer. Her ladyship does a grand job of keeping abreast of southern authors and books on the shelves in Independant book stores. Your local bookstore is likely to be listed. See if your book is mentioned.
Read and let me know here, under comments, what you think.

Rob Neufields's interactive site set up with Citizen-Times newspaper is interesting to read. Hopefully, those of us down in the southernmost part of NC will be able to participate and show that WNC is not limited to the Asheville area. Tipper, of Blind Pig and the Acorn, is a member as is Kathryn Stripling Byer. Get on and voice you views.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Writing Lesson and Homework Assignment:

Nancy Simpson: Instructor
Write a Persona Poem

The word persona comes from the greek language. Persona means mask.

A persona poem is a poem written in the voice of someone other than the poet. It is written in first person. The I speaker is not the poet. In practice, a poet takes on the identity of someone real or imagined, and talks as they would talk, sees what they see, hears what they hear. When the Persona Poem is spoken aloud, it is dramatic monologue.

Why would anyone want to write a poem presenting themselves as someone else? It is an exercise in walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, and when you do that, you learn something you did not know before, or you remember, with a thump in the chest, some truth you knew, but suppressed it so deeply you almost forgot it.

It is wise to choose to write about a critical moment in the person’s life. The classic example is Elizabeth Bishop’s “Caruso in England”. Kathryn Stripling Byer, our NC Poet Laureate, made much of her early fame in writing the Alma poems, in which she speaks as a woman who lived in the mountains long ago.

Is persona the same as personification? No, don’t get sidetracked. Personification is a poetic device in which the poet gives animals or objects characteristics of a person. Stay with the person I give you:

Assignment: Write a persona poem in the voice of Christopher Columbus in present time, returning to San Salvador, the place where he first landed in 1492.


Write a poem in the voice of a man or a woman who is hunting ginseng in a mountain forest in Appalachia, who finds something else instead.

Send me a copy, if you want my comments. Cut and paste please.