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Showing posts with label Nancy Simpson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nancy Simpson. 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: http://www.etsu.edu/cas/cass/nowandthen/.


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, June 22, 2016

Nancy Simpson's poem "Lingering at the Edge," published in Kudzu Literary Magazine's 2016 publication, "Women in Appalachia"

Poet Nancy Simpson has had a poem published in Kudzu Literary Magazine's 2016 issue. The theme of this year's magazine was Women in Appalachia. Simpson's poem was Lingering at the Edge.

Nancy 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.


http://hazard.kctcs.edu/en/Student_Life/Kudzu.aspx
https://kudzu.submittable.com/submit

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Video excerpts from April 20, 2016, NCWN-West's Coffee with the Poets and Writers, with Brenda Kay Ledford and Nancy Simpson

For those of you who missed Coffee with the Poets and Writers at Moss Memorial Library, in Hayesville, NC, on April 20, 2016, here are some video excerpts of Brenda Kay Ledford and Nancy Simpson.

Brenda Kay Ledford

Nancy Simpson

For other videos of this event, please go to our network's new YouTube channel at :  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu63wy0hyAFhgTPRo7by4og

Joan Ellen Gage, Admin of NCWN-West Blog

 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

NCWN-West's Coffee with the Poets and Writers to feature Brenda Kay Ledford and Nancy Simpson, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, at 10:00 AM at the Moss Memorial Library, Hayesville, NC

The North Carolina Writers' Network-West's Coffee with the Poets and Writers will feature poets Brenda Kay Ledford and Nancy Simpson, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, at 10:00 AM. The event will be held at the Moss Memorial Library, 26 Anderson Street, Hayesville, North Carolina, and is open to the public. As always, the readings will be followed by an open mic.


Brenda Kay Ledford is a seventh-generational native of Clay County, North Carolina. She was an honor graduate of Hayesville High School and earned her Master of Arts in Education from Western Carolina University. She studied Journalism at the University of Tennessee and was editor of "Tri-County Communicator" at Tri-County Community College. She holds a diploma of highest honors from Stratford Career Institute in Creative Writing.

Ledford's prose and poetry have appeared in many publications including: "Angels on Earth Magazine," "Our State Magazine," "Asheville Poetry Review," "Appalachian Heritage," and 30 anthologies printed by Old Mountain Press. Finishing Line Press published three award-winning chapbooks. Aldrich Press printed her poetry book, "Crepe Roses," that received the 2015 Paul Green Multimedia Award from North Carolina Society of Historians. She has received the Paul Green Award seven times for her literary works and collecting oral history. Ledford blogs at: http://blueridgepoet.blogspot.com.


Nancy 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. Simpson blogs at: http://nancysimpson.blogspot.com/.

For more information, please contact Glenda C. Beall at 828-389-4441.



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New Pages Added to NCWN West Blog!

Hello readers!

Please make note of the new page links on the North Carolina Writers Network Blog.  Here is the quick link: http://netwestwriters.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_22.html.  

You will find a link for an article The Founding of NCWN West, written by Nancy Simpson, with the help of Glenda Beall.  Please take time to read this important history!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Coffee with the Poets April 8, 2015

Brenda Kay Ledford
Nancy Simpson


April is poetry month and there is no finer way to celebrate than attending Coffee with the Poets, a monthly event held at Joe’s Coffee Shop and Trading Post, 82 Main Street, Hayesville, NC. North Carolina Writers Network-West sponsors this event which meets at10:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 8, 2015.

Recently a visitor to our area said, "This should be on a list of things to do here!"

Two widely published local poets, members of NCWN West, Brenda Kay Ledford and Nancy Simpson, are featured on the program this month. Coffee with the Poets and Writers is open to the public at no charge. Bring a poem or short prose, 1000 words or less, and read at Open Mic. Joe’s Coffee shop serves fine coffees and teas, and snacks can be purchased.

Brenda Kay Ledford is a well-known poet and native of Clay County, NC. She holds a Master of Arts in Education from Western Carolina University. She has done post-graduate work in Appalachian Studies, and the theme of most of her writing is her Appalachian heritage.

Brenda received the Paul Green Multimedia Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians seven times for her books, her collections of oral history, and her blog Historical Hayesville. Her work has appeared in Our State, Carolina Country Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Appalachian Heritage, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Journal of Kentucky Studies, Asheville Poetry Review, Country Extra Magazine, Blue Ridge Parkway Silver Anniversary Edition Celebration, and many other journals.

Finishing Line Press published Brenda’s poetry books: Shewbird Mountain, Sacred Fire, and Beckoning. She co-authored Simplicity with Blanche L. Ledford.  She is also an outstanding photographer as you can see on her blog, Blue Ridge Poet.

Nancy Simpson lives in Hayesville, NC. Through 2010 she served as Resident Writer at the John C. Campbell Folk School. She taught many of the poets and writers in this area in her classes there and at Tri-County Community College. She also taught poetry for ICL at Young Harris College.

Nancy is the author of three poetry collections: Across Water, Night Student, and most recently Living Above the Frost Line, New and Selected Poems (Carolina Wren Press, 2010). She also edited Echoes Across the Blue Ridge (anthology 2010). She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a BS in education from Western Carolina University. She received a NC Arts Fellowship and co-founded NC Writers Network-West.

Simpson’s poems have been published in The Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, Seneca Review, New Virginia Review, Prairie Schooner and others. Her poems have been included in anthologies, Word and Wisdom, 100 Years of N.C. Poetry and Literary Trails of N.C. (2008). Her poems have also been featured in Southern Appalachian Poetry, a textbook anthology published at McFarland Press.
Visit her blog, Living Above the Frost Line to learn more about her.  

Contact NCWN West Representative, Glenda Beall, at 828-389-4441 or glendabeall@msn.com  for information.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Interview from 2008 with Nancy Simpson, co-founder of NCWN West and former Resident Writer for JCCFS


Recently, I had the opportunity to interview poet, Nancy Simpson, former Program Coordinator for the North Carolina Writers' Network West. Although I’ve known Nancy for thirteen years and always admired her, I had some questions about her writing and NCWN West. As you will see, her answers are most informative as well as candid.

GB: Nancy, you have been a practicing poet for thirty years. What inspired you to be a poet?

NS: As it happened, the 
N.C. Arts Council in Raleigh sent some poets to read at the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville. I remember there was also a local poet on the program, Janice Townley Moore. Before that night I had only written rhyming poems. When I heard those poets read free verse poems, it changed my life forever. Something clicked. I remember thinking, Oh. That is what I have heard in my head all these years. I came to believe that poetry is a slanted way of seeing the world. When those quirky thoughts came, I started writing them down. That is how it began. I started studying free verse poetry immediately. I took classes with Dr. Steve Harvey, and I consider him my beloved teacher and mentor. I traveled far and wide to every writing workshop I could find. I went to hear every poet I could. I bought and listened to the great poets on tape. I could not get enough. Now, after all these years, I still can't get enough. Practicing, studying, and teaching poetry is my life.

GB: You earned your MFA at Warren Wilson College. Was that before you became Program Coordinator for NCWN West?

NS: I earned my M.F.A. in Writing in 1983. I began working with Marsha Warren, then Executive Director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, to establish N.C.W.N. West in 1991.

GB: Early in your writing career you published with the best journals such as the Georgia Review and Prairie Schooner. How often has the Georgia Review chosen your poems, and what other fine journals published your work?

NS: I had three poems in The Georgia Review when Stan Lindberg was editor. I had five Poems in Prairie Schooner. Other poems were published in four editions of Southern Poetry Review, and recently SPR chose to reprint "Grass" in their upcoming 50th Anniversary Issue. Some of my poems have been in Indiana Review, Florida Review, Seneca Review and New Virginia Review. I've also been pleased to have poems in Appalachian Journal, Appalachian Heritage and Journal of Kentucky Studies.

GB: I know several of your poems have been chosen for anthologies and reprinted in books.

NS: I had poems reprinted in four editions of Anthology of Magazine Verse, Writers Choice, and Word and Wisdom - 100 Years of N.C. Poetry. My poem "Night Student" has been published and reprinted, upon request, nine times. It was recently included in Literary Trails of N.C. Seven poems were reprinted in the new anthology of Appalachian Poetry from McFarland Press.A new poem, "Carolina Blue Birds" is included in the anthology, The Poet's Guide to the Birds, forthcoming in 2008 from Anhinga Press.

GB: You published Across Water, a poetry chapbook and a full length collection, Night Student. Tell how that came about.

NS: The editor and publisher of State Street Press, Judith Kitchen, asked me if she could choose some of my poems for a chapbook manuscript. I had just met her in the M.F.A. Program at Warren Wilson College. I didn't know she owned a press. She chose and arranged the poems and published Across Water.
Two years later Judith Kitchen asked to see my manuscript again. After reading it, she called and said she had the title -- Night Student--and that although State Street Press published only chapbooks, she intended to publish my full-length collection. I was fortunate. I was very happy. To me, it is amazing. As years passed, Judith Kitchen became a dear friend. The biggest honor is that she asked me to be her best woman at her marriage ceremony.

GB: You dedicated many years to the NCWN West and, as Program Coordinator, mentored writers here in the mountains. Many have gone on to publish their work. However you continued publishing your own poems in literary journals, and you edited Lights in the Mountains, the NCWN West anthology published in 2005. How did you find the time when you also held a full-time job as a public school teacher?

NS: True. I taught in Clay County public schools for 26 years. After I earned my MFA, I taught 11th grade English and I taught English Composition part time at Tri County College. Later I switched to Continuing Ed so I could teach creative writing. At the same time, I co- founded N.C. Writers Network West and took on the job of Program Coordinator. I then was asked to serve as Resident Writer at John C. Campbell Folk School. At one time I was teaching full time and had three paying part-time writing related jobs. At the same time, I kept writing poems. I kept submitting them and getting them published. I do not know how I did it. It was not hard. Writing consumed my life.

GB: In recent years you lost a sister and a son. How has your writing helped you deal with your grief?

NS: I believe practicing poetry is a way to learn how to live. Yes, writing helped me deal with death and grief. Losing my sister was hard because we were close and most of my life she lived near enough that we could talk every day. She prodded me to write a specific historical novel and, before her death, she handed over all of her research. Every day I look across the driveway at her empty house. At night, it seems darker on the mountain without lights in her house. I honor her best by writing the novel. Sometimes when I get stuck, I imagine her telling me where to find the answer on which page of her research. Sometimes I imagine her saying, “Only 127 pages! Get to work!”

The death of my son from Cancer last summer was the hardest thing I've ever had to face. I was with him through surgery which took place during Christmas week at Emory Hospital in Atlanta. I thought he soon would be coming home, but his progress stalled and he stayed in the hospital. His brothers, who live in Atlanta, promised to take good care of him. One was employed as a nurse at Emory and checked on him often. I talked with my son two or three times a day, but grief set in. I became depressed. I had two completed poetry manuscripts that were circulating among the poetry presses, but I did not think about that very much. One day I found myself shuffling the manuscript pages, shifting poems from one manuscript to another, changing page numbers, even changing the title of one of the manuscripts. When I told a good friend what I was doing she said, “Oh No. Don't do that.”
I know she was concerned that in my depressed state, I might ruin the manuscripts. I stopped and thought about it. I knew I was doing the right thing. Other than the life of my son, there was nothing that could keep my mind focused. There was nothing else that made me want to get out of bed in the morning. Your question is how has my writing helped me deal with grief? Practicing poetry at the most dreadful time sustained me. When my son came home to Hospice, I put my poems away. I did not need them because I had my son, and I had an important new job to learn - how to be his nurse.

GB: As Writer in Residence at the John C. Campbell Folk School, you are in contact with writers and teachers all over the United States. What do you look for in choosing faculty for the Writing Program at JCCFS?

NS: In the 
John C. Campbell Folk School Writing Program, I look for a writer who has book publications or is widely published in good magazines. Second, I want someone who has teaching credentials, who has taught writing before or has teacher training somewhere in their background. Third, and most important, the instructors who come to teach at JCCFS must fit into the non competitive environment. We have "no hierarchy and no lowerarchy." The best teachers can sit in a circle with their students and teach them well. Lectures go over like a lead balloon at the folk school. We now have a lovely set up with classes held in the living room of Orchard House and in the new writing studio which is attached to Orchard House. I will not say the teaching style we want is casual. No. A week at the folk school is the most intense kind of learning. But, it is not similar in any way to college classroom and never shall be. We only have 18 writing classes a year now and the schedule is filled through 2009. Still, I am always on the look out for good writing instructors.

GB: You have two new poetry manuscripts finished. Give us the names of each and tell us the themes of these works. Have any of the poems in these manuscripts already been published?

NS: One is LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE. The other is INTO THE HEART OF THE GLACIER.The poems were written over many years. I took a NCWN Advanced Poetry Class with Kathryn Stripling Byer. What she read was one manuscript with 150 poems. Kay said it should be two different manuscripts, and she advised where to break them apart. I will always appreciate her direction. LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE, which was first titled Accounting, is written in the voice of a woman who lives alone on a remote mountain in Appalachia. Her concerns focus on specific values: Worth of Persons, Family and Concern for our planet. Nineteen of the poems have been published.INTO THE HEART OF THE GLACIER is also written with the same southern voice of a woman living alone on a mountain. Glacier is a love story, the ancient Eurydice story turned backward and set in our time. Twenty-two of the poems have been published.

GB: On June 7, you will teach your first poetry workshop for NCWN West. You have taught at Tri-County Community College, John C. Campbell Folk School, and the Institute of Continuing Learning at Young Harris College. How did it happen that you never taught a class for NCWN West?

NS: Thanks for inviting me. I can hardly wait to teach this Netwest Saturday Poetry workshop on June 7. To answer the question, I was the Program Coordinator and my main job was to help the representatives in each county get the kind of writing programs they wanted. At that time 
NCWN sponsored four Saturday workshops a year in the Netwest region. I was eager to teach, but it would not have been ethical to do so at the time I was on the NCWN payroll. I was busy editing and producing an anthology. Each county had character and ideas of its own. I worked hard at setting up critique groups, if that was what they wanted, or Saturday writing workshops. I was busy keeping two Netwest representatives in each county. It would not have been appropriate for me to teach a Netwest workshop.

I am happy to say that over the years, NCWN invited me to be on their Fall Conference program three different times. NC Women Writers invited me twice to be on their program; once when held in Asheville, and later when held in Greensboro. You can see I stayed busy, but now, yes now, I can say I am a happy woman to be invited to teach a Saturday Poetry Workshop for NCWN West.

GB: .What do you expect students to take away from this coming class, Advance Your Poetry?

NS: ADVANCE YOUR POETRY is an all day workshop for practicing free verse poets. My goal is to focus on their poetry and their poetry writing process. We will talk about how they started writing poetry, where they are now in their writing career and what is their next step, and the next, and the next. I expect the students to take away direction and a folder marked in bold letters: MY POETRY CHAPBOOK COLLECTION.

GB: Nancy, I’m delighted you took the time to answer my questions so our visitors on
http://www.netwestwriters.blogspot.com/ can know more about you and about NCWN West.

NS: Glenda, thank you for asking.


Interview by Glenda Council Beall


Sunday, February 1, 2015

SEPTEMBER 20, 2008 - After a Week of Hearing the Word by Nancy Simpson

Recently I sent out an email to  members with two links for early posts of this blog, but I find now that those links to  many of the post in 2007, 2008 do not work. You can go to Archives and find most of the early posts however.
Nancy Simpson, co-founder of NCWN West, our mountain writers organization, in the early 1990s, sent me this early post that portrays the activity and enthusiasm we had in 2008.
Saturday, September 20, 2008


AFTER A WEEK OF HEARING THE WORD

Michael Beadle and Glenda Beall

Jo Carolyn Beebe


Bill Queen and Nancy Simpson


Hello Friends of Netwest,

Something is happening. The seasons are changing. It's difficult to keep my feet on the ground. I'm telling you. I'm flying off the earth. It started last Sunday at Koneheta Park in Cherokee County at our 17th annual picnic. There have been a lot of good Netwest 

I've missed only one. The Cherokee County members out-did themselves. They welcomed writers as far away as Jackson and Haywood. There were also writers from Clay,Cherokee and some from Georgia. The food was the best ever. I didn't see one Ingles cake on the table.
Playwright, Gary Carden was the featured writer. He was born to entertain. He paid homage to Appalachian poet, Jim Wayne Miller who exhorted in his poem: "Come home to your father's house."

There were at the same time, near us, some boys practicing baseball with their coach. The boys could not keep their minds on the game. Every time Gary Carden raised his voice, shouting, "Come home to your father's house," a boy would miss hitting the ball or would miss the catch. The louder Gary Carden read Jim Wayne Miller's famous words, the more the boys missed the ball and the louder and the meaner their coach yelled insulting words at them.

Sitting between Gary Carden, who was telling his heart out and between the boys who wanted to drop the ball and come over to see who was talking, drawn to poetry I believe, and sitting there in hearing distance of their mean-mouthed coach, who needed someone to gag him, I almost lost my way for a moment. What a presentation from our special guest! The readings continued with old favorites such as poets Brenda Kay Ledford and Mary Ricketson reading their newest poems. You must know, my ears also love to hear those new and younger voices and there were some of those. As it turned out, it was the best NCWN West annual picnic ever.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I tried to get my feet back on Terra Firma. On Thursday evening I went to John C. Campbell Folk School to our scheduled monthly reading. Each month two of our members read there to a captive audience. By that I mean, they read to the folk school students who have come from all over America to learn a craft. In the audience we also have local writers and Netwest members who come to support the program.

The featured writers were two of Netwest's most accomplished: fiction writer Jo Carolyn Beebe from Hiawassee, Georgia and poet, Michael Beadle from Canton, N.C. Oops. I started losing traction, floating. What a show! I enjoyed Jo Carolyn's stories. They were filled with vivid imagery. As she read, I felt as if I were turning the pages of a book with colorful illustrations.

Michael Beadle is a performance poet. He started reciting loudly, pacing, looking at me. I lost myself. What a joy to remember that there are different kinds of poetry. He recited free verse and read haiku to the beat of a drum. It was inspiring. His best was a free verse poem about a boy wanting his estranged parents to kiss again, so he creates a kiss by taking his father's coffee mug and without washing it, pours his mother a drink. Where their lips touched the mug, he had their kiss. It's the kind of lyric poem I long to hear.

On Friday, (just yesterday) all I wanted to do all day was write. I wondered if my life could get better. I reheard poems and phrases in my head. I floated on joy.

But the week wasn't over yet. Netwest had scheduled the award winning play, Birdell, by Gary Carden. Gary had donated the play to Netwest for a fundraiser. It was to be performed in Murphy. I went out into my garden to gather flowers to be used as props, got dressed and went to help set up for the play.
I knew I would enjoy this play written my our own Gary Carden. But, I was not prepared for this moving story, set in Appalachia long ago. I was not prepared for the professional, outstanding performance of Bobbie Curtis, who took me back to that time in the mountains. She made me laugh and she made me cry, the emotions that remind me I am human. 

Up, up again.

Yes, after a full week of taking in the word, the word itself, I am still floating. My thanks to all of you who are responsible for my elevated condition. Don't worry about me. Don't call my doctor. I'm fine. I'm alive, healthy and happy.

Nancy Simpson
Consultant, NCWN West

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Literary Hour at JC Campbell Folk School

On Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 7:00 PM, John C. Campbell Folk School and N.C. Writers Network-West are sponsoring The Literary Hour, a monthly hour of poetry and prose reading held at Keith House on the JCCFS campus. The reading is free of charge and open to the public. 

This month presents an exceptional opportunity to meet and listen to the featured readers, Nancy Simpson and Brenda Kay Ledford, whose poetry mostly centers around the mountains.

NANCY SIMPSON
 
Nancy Simpson is the author of three poetry collections: Across Water, Night Student, and most recently Living Above the Frost Line, New and Selected Poems (Carolina Wren Press, 2010). She also edited Echoes Across the Blue Ridge (anthology 2010). She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a BS in education from Western Carolina University. She received a NC Arts Fellowship and co-founded NC Writers Network-West. For more than 30 years, young writers have known her as “beloved teacher.” Simpson’s poems have been published in The Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, Seneca Review, New Virginia Review, Prairie Schooner and others. Her poems have been included in anthologies, Word and Wisdom, 100 Years of N.C. Poetry and Literary Trails of N.C. (2008). Her poems have also been featured in Southern Appalachian Poetry, a textbook anthology published at McFarland Press.

Nancy lives in Hayesville, NC. Through 2010 she served as Resident Writer at the John C. Campbell Folk School. Presently she teaches Poetry Writing at the Institute for Continued Learning at Young Harris College.

BRENDA KAY LEDFORD

Brenda Kay Ledford is a seventh generational native of Clay County, NC, and holds a Master of Arts in Education from Western Carolina University.

She writes about her heritage and has done post-graduate work in Appalachian studies. Brenda received the Paul Green Multimedia Award from North Carolina Society of Historians seven times for her books, collecting oral history, and blog, Historical Hayesville.

Her work has appeared in Our State, Carolina Country Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Appalachian Heritage, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Journal of Kentucky Studies, Asheville Poetry Review, Country Extra Magazine, Blue Ridge Parkway Silver Anniversary Edition Celebration, and many other journals.

Finishing Line Press published Brenda’s award-winning poetry books: Shewbird Mountain, Sacred Fire, and Beckoning. She co-authored Simplicity with Blanche L. Ledford. These books are available at the John C. Campbell Folk School Craft Shop. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Netwest Poetry Group

Tonight I returned to the Netwest Poetry Critique group after a long absence. It was good to be back home in the conference room at Tri-County Community College in Cherokee County, NC. Janice Moore is the facilitator for this group and has been our leader for many years. Janice is also one of the Netwest Representatives for Clay County. 

We discussed the history of this group that goes back about twenty years. Nancy Simpson, Netwest co-founder, told me that Dr. Gene Hirsch started this monthly group when he lived in Murphy two decades ago. After he moved away, Nancy took over the group which included prose and poetry writers. They eventually divided into two groups that meet monthly. Today we have a prose group, which includes all writing that is not poetry, and it is led by Bob Groves. The prose group meets on the second Thursday of the month. 

How fortunate we are in this mountain region to have dedicated members who continue our events through the years. I felt warm and fuzzy sitting down to share my poetry with old friends, writers I've known for years, writers whose families I know, and I am sure I will continue to go to these meetings in months to come. 

Without the eyes of other writers who see what I don't see in my own work, I would likely not have published anything. First drafts are not usually our best work so we need to have others read and give us feedback so we can tighten, cut, or do whatever is needed to make our final product the best it can be.

Thank you, Janice Moore, and all the poets at the meeting tonight. It was good to go home again. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Poets, What do you think?


This post is from an article by Nancy Simpson, “Writing Free Verse: Some Questions and Answers,” posted on this blog December 17, 2011.

3) QUESTION: Do I have to punctuate?

ANSWER: No. This is your choice. Once in a while, in the literary magazines, I read poems that have no punctuation. However, it is as if the poem were punctuated and then the poet lifted out the punctuation marks. There is no rule, but caution would say, help the reader all you can. If there were a rule regarding punctuation, it would be: Do not lose your reader.

4) QUESTION: What is the rule for line breaks?

ANSWER: There is no rule. Line breaks are completely your responsibility and your choice. Some free verse poets work in unrhymed meter, some count syllables, some spoon feed the reader one thought on one line and the next bite on the next line. There are no rules, but there are a few guidelines.

A.) End the line with a strong word, not a weak word such as a, and, or the.

B.) Be aware of your one-word lines. That one word you want to use will draw attention to itself. It had better be great, for it will provoke questions, and it will slow your reader.

C.) If your line is too wide for a narrow page, it will wrap, and you will lose whatever it was you were trying to accomplish. Editors shun the wide line that wants to wrap.

D.) If there were one rule to line breaks, it would be, work your lines.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, March 4, 2013

What makes a good blog? Hope Clark has the answer,

“Every piece of content you write on a blog has to either solve
a problem or entertain the reader.”  Hope Clark

Hope Clark is someone I greatly admire. Her blogs and her newsletters are food for writers, in my opinion. So when she says a blog must either solve a problem or entertain the reader, I know she is right.

My Writers Circle blog is designed to give writers information about workshops and classes and the writers who teach at my home studio. At times, I throw in a post on the craft or my opinion.

Writing Life Stories has been all over the place since the beginning. It has changed in theme and content, but that is because I have changed since the blog was started in 2007. Many of my readers manage a blog or many blogs on various subjects. I understand that a blog concentrated on a theme like quilting, chicken farming, or single mothers raising kids, that discuss the problems and offer solutions is going to have a large audience. Those blogs require a concentrated schedule and plan I think. That might be too much work for me at this time in my life.

How I became a blogger and Netwest Writers was Born

It was fall of 2007 at a panel discussion at a writers conference that I realized what a blog was and what it could do. A young mother had written a book on stay at home moms working from home and she found out she could sell more of her books on a blog than by going through a New York Publisher. On the panel were three other writers who had found success from writing a blog.

I came home and told my husband I was going to learn how to blog, not for myself, but for the writers and poets in our chapter of NCWN. I had taken the job of Program Coordinator for NCWN West. Nancy Simpson and I had often talked about the problem of getting the voices of mountain writers in our area over the ridges and past the ranges into the rest of the world. I believed a blog was better than a website. A website at that time was static and unchanging. A blog gave us freedom to share new material everyday if we wanted. And the blog was free!

I was scared. After all, I didn't know anything about this new technology. Would our members accept this and use it? Would it do what I hoped it would? Soon I was holding classes on blogging and some of our members, Brenda Kay Ledford, Nancy Simpson, Carol Thompson, and Sam Hoffer began their own sites. What pleased me the most was that all of us were beyond the young stage. We were all over fifty. It wasn’t long before Netwest member and Poet Laureate of North Carolina, Kathryn Stripling Byer created a blog. When she became Program Coordinator for Netwest, she brought readers from everywhere to the Netwest blog.

I have been disappointed that more of our members have not used the Netwest Writers blog. We have a number of authors listed who have the capability to write posts and other members can ask for and get permission to post on the blog. It was created for our members.

I am so thankful, however, that Netwest Writers blog has been successful in promoting our writers and helping them reach across the state and around the world. We have readers from many different countries every day.

Nicki Leone, president of the NCWN Board of Trustees at that time built a website for the state organization and plopped our Netwest blog right on the front page. Since they have thousands of visitors every single day, those visitors saw us here in the mountains, clicked on our blog with little effort and read about our writers and our poets and playwrights. The voices of our writers have indeed reached beyond the mountains.

Where do we go from here?
I hope that other members of Netwest will post articles that appeal to readers. One of our members said the blog had simply become a bulletin board of upcoming events. We need to change that. We need posts that will keep us worthy of exposure on the home page of the NCWN website. We need an administrator who will help keep the blog on the radar of the search engines. Who out there is ready to do that?




Saturday, December 17, 2011

WRITING FREE VERSE; SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Reprint

This post is a reprint from June 14, 2008. Nancy Simpson writes about free verse. I thought some of our new poets would find this helpful. You might want to print this for referral later.



WRITING FREE VERSE POETRY: Some Questions and Answers

Nancy Simpson, Instructor

When talking with free verse poets, I tread lightly to see if we are on the same page. Many free verse poets believe there is no form in free verse poetry and that there are no rules. I do not agree with that. I believe writers of free verse must follow the essential rules of poetry. Free verse poets have a great amount of freedom, but it is a misconception to think we can write with abandon of rules.

Yes, we must break with traditional verse. We must shun rhyme, but after that, in my opinion, free verse poets must decide carefully which guidelines of poetry they will practice.

Some of the most asked questions from my students.

1) QUESTION: If there are free verse rules, what is number one?

ANSWER: Economy of Words is the first rule of poetry. The second is Use of Diction, choice of words, choosing the best word in regard to correctness. Poets of old followed these essential rules. Free verse poets must follow these rules.

2) QUESTION: Do I have to write in sentences?

ANSWER: Yes. According to the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetics, poetry is written in sentences and lines. Poets of old followed this guideline. Free verse poets must do so. Why? Syntax of Sentence. A sentence has syntax, and it is syntax that gives your words meaning. No meaning, no understanding for your reader.

3) QUESTION: Do I have to punctuate?

ANSWER: No. This is your choice. Once in a while, in the literary magazines, I read poems that have no punctuation. However, it is as if the poem were punctuated and then the poet lifted out the punctuation marks. There is no rule, but caution would say, help the reader all you can. If there were a rule regarding punctuation, it would be: Do not lose your reader.

4) QUESTION: What is the rule for line breaks?

ANSWER: There is no rule. Line breaks are completely your responsibility and your choice. Some free verse poets work in unrhymed meter, some count syllables, some spoon feed the reader one thought on one line and the next bite on the next line. There are no rules, but there are a few guidelines.

A.) End the line with a strong word, not a weak word such as a, and, or the.

B.) Be aware of your one word lines. That one word you want to use will draw attention to itself. It had better be great, for it will provoke questions, and it will slow your reader.

C.) If your line is too wide for a narrow page, it will wrap, and you will lose what ever it was you were trying to accomplish. Editors shun the wide line that wants to wrap.

D.) If there were one rule to line breaks, it would be, work your lines.

5) QUESTION: What if I have a sentence that ends in the middle of the next line? What is the rule?

ANSWER: There is no rule against ending a sentence in the middle of a line. What you have is a caesura, a pause, and you have a golden opportunity. Caesura in a line can be a dreadful mistake, or it can be one of the most brilliant, most sophisticated moves in your free verse poetry. The guideline would be, make that line with the caesura stand alone as a thought. It is comparable to giving your reader a spoonful of something delicious that was not on the menu. You have the first sentence and the second sentence, and in-between you have a line with a period somewhere in it. Words on each side of the period should add up to something in itself. Guard against caesura lines that make no sense.

Post any questions or comments to http://www.netwestwriters.blogspot.com/
Nancy Simpson is the author of two collections of poetry.
She is Resident Writer at John C. Campbell Folk School.

Updated information on Nancy Simpson, Dec. 16, 2011. Nancy is the author of three books of poetry. Her most recent is Living Above the Frost Line, New and Selected Poems, published by Carolina Wren Press.
She is no longer Resident Writer at John C. Campbell Folk School, but she teaches at Young Harris College with the ICL program.

Labels: Caesura, Instructor, John C. Campbell Folk School, line breaks, Nancy Simpson, punctuation in free verse, Rules of Free Verse Poetry

3 comments:

Lonnie Busch said...

Wow, Nancy, thank you so much for this post. I have learned more about writing poetry in the few minutes it took me to read your comments than anything I've ever known before! Very fascinating! I will read poetry with a new eye.



Sunday, June 15, 2008 10:49:00 PM EDT

Glenda (Writerlady) said...

Nancy, Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge of poetry with all of us.

Anyone who writes poetry will benefit from this post.

Glenda



Monday, June 16, 2008 8:43:00 AM EDT

Anonymous said...

You covered a vast spectrum and distilled it to clear perfection. I am going to make a copy of this and refer to it often. Thank you, Nancy!

Pat Workman



Friday, July 18, 2008 8:06:00 PM EDT

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dedication of Bay Leaves now online

The Poetry Council of North Carolina dedicated its annual anthology Bay Leaves to Nancy Simpson, co-founder of NCWN West and editor of Echoes Across the Blue Ridge. Read the dedication on the site of the Poetry Council.
http://poetrycouncilofnc.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/bay-leaves-2011-p_1_15.pdf

Congratulations, Nancy, for an honor well-deserved.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Poetry Council recognizes Nancy Simpson

Netwest co-founder, Nancy Simpson, wins high acclaim from the NC Poetry Council. Read this article in the Citzen-Times newspaper. Nancy has been mentor ot many of us and we are happy to see the Poetry Counxcil recognize this noted poet.
http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20110715/NEWS/307150057/Hayesville-poet-Nancy-Simpson-honored-by-Poetry-Council-NC?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFrontpage%7Cp



Friday, January 21, 2011

Poets Meet for Lunch

The best  cure for cabin fever in the dead of winter is to meet for lunch with fellow poets. That is what some NC Writers Network Poets did today. They met at the Copper Door in Hayesville, NC, shared a delicious meal and shared some of their recent publications.

Rosemary Royston, NCWN West Program Coordinator (below)






















Janice Townley Moore Leader of the Monthly Poetry
Critique Group, Nancy Simpson co founder of Netwest,
and Linda M. Smith Publicity Chairperson. (below)
Glenda Beall former Program Coordinator and 
Echoes Across the Blue Ridge Marketing Manager
(below)


Carole Thompson NCWN West Georgia Representative
(below)


Peg Russell monthly Prose Group leader and Linda M. Smith scheduling readers 

for Poets and Writers Reading Poems and Stories, at John C. Campbell Folk School
(below)


The poets passed around copies of their most recent poetry publications.
(below)


Maren Mitchell shared her recent publication in Southern Humanities Review.
(below)


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

THE GIFT OF POETRY FOR THE HOLIDAYS: Nancy Simpson's "Living Above the Frost Line"

December first and time to begin to think seriously about holiday gift-giving! Over the next two weeks I will be making recommendations for poetry lovers--and for those who think they don't like poetry but will change their minds once they read these books.
I will begin with my longtime friend and sister in the art, Nancy Simpson, whose Living Above the Frost Line: New and Selected Poems was published this fall by Carolina Wren Press. It's a beautiful, elegant book, with French flaps (a shawl-like dust jacket/cover) and cover image that is gorgeous. Just click on the image above to enlarge and see what I mean.
Nancy Simpson has enriched the literary community of North Carolina for over thirty years. Her work was first heralded by the late Richard Hugo when he read and celebrated her poems at the Callanwolde Literary Festival in Atlanta, shortly after she began to show her poetry around to friends and readers in the far reaches of western North Carolina. He praised her rich inner life and her ability to give expression to it as it manifested itself in her everyday life. Whether driving over the Nantahala Gorge in “Night Student,” expressing the complexity of self in “Driven into the interior,” or documenting the carnage of the first Gulf War in “Voices from the Fringe,” she brings the inner and outer worlds of her experience into a harmony that resonates like the current giving voice and shape to the mountain creeks she loves. Living Above the Frost Line: Selected and New Poems traces the growth of a poet determined to survive despite the obstacles raised by age, mortality, and the inevitable losses that come from being alive in this world. Through her poetry she greets that half-drowned woman, harking from her Florida girlhood, who appears as her muse in “Bridge On the River Kwai, “ bearing gifts of memory and sustaining images. In return the poet gives her “a mountain, the safest place to be.” Rarely has the relationship between poet and muse been so beautifully expressed.
Nancy, on the porch of her Cherry Mountain home.
I'm delighted to be able to offer several of my favorite poems.

Tanfastic
At 12:17 this Sunday
he is uninhibited
in front of God and
everybody traveling
I-75 South, a man
lounging in the bed
of his red pickup truck.
He is getting his tan
the fast way, 80 mph
stretched out
on his chaise lounge,
his black bikini
drawing the sun down.
He is holding a blue
tumbler in his hand.
I can only guess
what he is drinking.
I want to make a pass,
I mean, get past him
in this god-awful traffic.
I want to see
the face of the woman
at the steering wheel
who is taking him for a ride.
The Gleaners
In the last days of the age
word went out that women
therefore must be allowed
to participate in creation.
And there came forth an artist
calling to us, Come hither!
In the center of a cornfield
in Brasstown Valley,
she sculpted an assembly
of corn women. She fashioned
husk bodies, worked six days
making in her image. She dressed
the corn women in gauze gowns
and entwined eglantine in their
cornsilk hair. Come hither!
We entered the cornfield,
our capes waving
in the evening breeze. We
circled the corn women,
lit a circle of small fires
and danced in firelight.
In the morning we came forth
to sculpt, to paint, and to write
the story that is left to tell.
Looking For the Sons of My House
I am looking for the sons of my house,
grown from babies into boys,
three of them with dark brown eyes.
Where are they now? The one
who brought a snake down the hall
into my room. The one who
had to fall off the porch, to test every rule?
The young one who flew half-way
around the world to be my son?
Their bikes are wrecked, tossed
in the landfill with their outgrown shoes.
One day I saw they were no longer boys but men,
the one who drove me to night class in Asheville
when he was a teen, the same one
I stood with as mother of the groom.
Where are they now?
One whistles on a hillside, feeds his dogs.
One is stuck in rush-hour traffic, stuck
in a marriage I blessed. The young one
climbs today on a mountain in Switzerland.
All of them far from the mother house.
Skin Underwater
1.
From the top of the mountain we see
Town Valley submerged in clouds.
You say the word ‘ocean’ and a gull
flies from the branch of an oak,
squawks his squawk.
I know a lie when I see one.
Seagulls do not live in the mountains.
It is the woodpecker men call extinct,
alive, soaring above oaktops.
Now driving through fog in the valley
you show me things not seen before.
Men are swimming on the courthouse lawn.
Women stare fish-eyed from their gardens,
their mouths turned up.
2.
Barnacles collect on the pier.
Count one for every life you were young:
the schoolgirl, mute,
who spoke only underwater
hoping no one could decipher.
In water memories converge.
Shell is sharp to touch.
Seaweed is soft as hair, and skin
is the large sensor. Skin
keeps its own record of the day
you slit your forearm, diving
into green ocean at South Beach.
Look how barnacles bashed by waves
hold on. Some are encased in stone.
They could cut you bloody, Girl.
3.
Looking back I see my mother
was misinformed, promised an abortion
though it was illegal, five doctors
dead sure I was damaged, and certain
she would die if she gave birth.
She did sort of die, seeing me hideous
in her dream, seeing a ball of hair
bouncing in the room, in the afternoon
when she tried to rest.
I heard from her lips
how she fell down praying.
My mother was devout. I knew
she could not kill. Don’t you see?
I was in the best possible position.
A voice from a dream
Sleep again.
Dream yourself
on the north bank of the river
inconspicuous as deadwood.
Drift ashore
where grass glows at sunrise,
where light is found all day.
Dream a new body.
a blue robe, and you
walking home.
We stand over the carcass of a jellyfish.
It has given up the ghost, grown opaque.
Moon Jelly, I say, we knew you when
you lit the sky of the underworld.
And we count out loud the lines on its body
as if in counting we might learn
how long it lived in the ocean.
Gulls show interest in our arithmetic.
They circle. They fly down
to the sound of our voices.
Are we going to reach the end
of the island? Are we moving in a circle?
Light-headed we walk.
6.
It interests me seeing
the hermit scuttle away
with a moon shell for a new house.
Look how furrows of silt create
a frontal lobe. We are walking,
don’t you think, on gray matter?
I will always say yes
to almost everything you ask. Yes,
it is possible to imagine
intelligence beneath our feet.
7.
Evening turns out just as imagined.
We walk the length of the beach
and lie on the sand. We enter
the surf, our bodies submerging.
In hearing distance of a wave’s yes,
earth is a woman with plans.
What She Saw and What She Heard
On the mountain a woman saw
the road bank caved in
from winter’s freeze-thaw
and April rain erosion.
Trees leaned over the road the way
strands of hair hung on her forehead.
She gaped, her face as tortured
as the face she saw engraved in dirt.
Roots growing sideways shaped brows,
two eyes. Humus washed
down the bank like a nose.
Lower down, where a rock
was shoved out by weathering,
a hole formed the shape of a mouth.
The woman groaned, Agh!
Her spirit toppled
to the ground, slithered
under the roots of an oak.
She stood there asking
What? Who?
Back to reason, back home
she finished her questions:
What can one make of the vision, that face
on the north side of the mountain?
Reckoning comes, a thought:
It is not the image of a witch nor a god,
but Earth’s face, mouth open saying,
Save me.