Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Distinguished Local Poet Mary Ricketson Will Speak at Coffee With the Poets and Writers

 Distinguished Local Poet Mary Ricketson Will Speak at 

Coffee With the Poets and Writers

10:30 AM

 October 12 at Moss Memorial Library


Coffee With the Poets and Writers (CWPW) will feature well-known poet and columnist Mary Ricketson on Wednesday, October 12, at 10:30 A.M. at the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, N.C.

The event is free and open to the public.  An open mic will follow the presentation.  Bring a poem or short prose piece of about three minutes to participate.  CWPW is sponsored by North Carolina Writers' Network West (NCWN-W) which also includes writers in Towns, Fannin, Union, and Rabun Counties in Georgia.


Mary Ricketson lives in Murphy, NC, and works as a mental health counselor and a blueberry farmer.  Her poems reflect the healing power of nature, surrounding mountains as midwife for her words.  Her published collections are I Hear the River Call My Name, Hanging Dog Creek, Shade and Shelter, Mississippi: The Story of Luke and Marian, Keeping in Place, and Lira, Poems of a Woodland Woman. Forthcoming book: Precious the Mule.

 She writes a monthly column, Woman to Woman, for the Murphy NC weekly newspaper, The Cherokee Scout.

Her career in the helping professions, since 1970, started as a social worker for the state of Texas.  In North Carolina, she was on the original staff of Industrial Opportunities Inc, a sheltered workshop, developing an innovative training and work opportunity for adults with developmental disabilities. Later she led a 3 county community focus group to study domestic violence and sexual assault, culminating in the founding of REACH, emergency and ongoing services to abused women. She earned a Master's degree in Counseling from Western Carolina University in 1979, having traveled after work, five years of night classes, one or two a semester.  She has been a therapist of individuals and families since 1978, and since 1987 in private practice as a mental health counselor in Murphy, NC.

Mary has a grown son and says, "If I could choose only one thing to repeat in my wonderful life, I would be a mother, happy for the privilege to give life, to keep the circle going."  She also writes, "For a long time when I was growing up, I would write to keep from having to talk, I stuttered so severely.  Eventually, I stopped writing and made myself talk, following whatever determination I could muster.  Now I write to see what nature has to say to me."

Coffee With the Poets and Writers will meet every second Wednesday from June until December 2022.  Masks are optional.  Please do not park in the Book Store Parking Lot.

 For information contact joanhoward121@gmail.com

By Joan M. Howard

Sunday, September 25, 2022

We have a new Clay County Rep for NCWN-West

I am very happy to introduce our members to Raven Chiong who is the new Clay County Representative for NCWN-West. She is also listed as a regional rep on the Network website. 


We are fortunate to have Raven take on this responsibility which I accepted many years ago along with Janice Moore. Raven was a student of mine in my Zoom classes during the past two years and I found her to be an excellent writer, but also a caring and encouraging person. She has been promoting writing events, helping write a play, posting flyers, and devoting much of her time to NCWN-West. I welcome Raven and hope you all will take the time to do so as well.

Raven’s writing career began at five years of age when she became a loyal pen pal to her absent mother. She earned her Master of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Florida. Raven is a lifelong student, life coach, and educator.

Career highlights include qualifying for the First Ever 1984 Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials and paying it forward with her 19-year cross country coaching career at DePauw University (IN), Florida Atlantic University, Pine Crest Prep School (FL), and Mills College (CA) where she was also coordinator and grant writer for the N.C.A.A. program, C.H.A.M.P.S.—Challenging Athletes Minds for Personal Success. 

She served as United States Ambassador at the International Olympic Academy in Olympia, Greece, and took 10 ten-year-old students to Australia to run, relay style, in the Brisbane Half-Marathon. After a long competitive running and coaching career, Raven now runs her pen across the pages of this life.

In Utah, Raven won the Jacob Hamblin essay contest for her research on “Lovina Manhard Brown—Kane County Pioneer.” She created a souvenir chronicle for the centennial celebration of the Kanab City Library in 2015. Additionally, Raven founded the Willow Wind Poets, a local Kanab chapter of the Utah State Poetry Society in 2017. She was an annual presenter at the Kanab Writers Conference on “Writing as a Spiritual Practice” and led Plein Air writing and hiking groups in the high desert. In 2019, she was awarded a fellowship to attend the National Federation of State Poetry Society’s (NFSPS) national conference in Santa Fe, NM.

Since returning to her maternal ancestral homeland of Western North Carolina in 2020, Raven’s poems have garnered silver medals at the Cherokee/Clay County Senior Games in 2021 and 2022. She collaborated with author and poet Carroll S. Taylor on a one-act play entitled “Beneath the Sky and Waters” at a Scribes on Stage event at the Peacock Performing Arts Center in Spring 2022.

Raven is a member of the North Carolina Writers Network, North Carolina Poetry Society, Utah State Poetry Society, Florida State Poetry Association, and National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Additionally, she is a member of the Clay County Communities Revitalization Association (CCCRA), Clay County Historical and Arts Council (CCHAC), Friend of the Moss Memorial Library, and a supporter of Historic Hayesville, Inc, Celebration of Pets Foundation, and One Dozen Who Care, Inc. 

To date, Raven’s poetry has been published in the Red Rock Review, Kanab Arts Magazine, Utah Life Magazine, Best Friends Animal Society blog and Fall Forever Friends Newsletter as well as The Art of Isolation, A Thousand Writing Paths, and Old Mountain Press anthologies. Her forthcoming collection of poems entitled “Ode to the Still Small Voice-A Memoir of Listening” will be published by Covenant Books and available in early 2023.

Raven has been working with Best Friends Animal Society since 2008. Above all, she is the proud and devoted mama of four rescue dogs Dulce, Buddy, Sage, and Bini who adopted her in Southern Utah. They are her ongoing source of inspiration, a-muse-ment, and greatest teachers.

She has an inspiring bio that proves to me she diligently works for the things that grabs her interest. We are fortunate to have Raven with us in Clay County, NC but also as a part of NCWN-West.

I hope you will leave your good wishes for Raven in the comments section of this blog. Remember, your words will not appear immediately. Come back later to see what is published. 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

 Randy Mazie Releases Vol. II of "Itches Inside My Head"

NCWN-West member Randy Mazie has published the second volume of his book “Itches Inside My Head," which is now available on Amazon.  The book is a collection of fun poems for everyone ages 3 to 103.  It is available here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Noted Poet and Writer Glenda Beall to be Featured Reader for Mountain Wordsmiths

Mountain Wordsmiths  - September 22, Thursday morning, 10:30A.M. 


Members of Mountain Wordsmiths are honored to have as our featured reader for September noted writer, poet, and writing mentor Glenda Beall on Thursday morning, September 22, at 10:30 via Zoom. Our monthly gathering, sponsored by the North Carolina Writers’ Network-West, continues its online Zoom presence because local writers as well as writers from other cities and states are joining us each month online.

Beall is the program coordinator for the NC Writers’ Network-West and also teaches memoir writing. She has published a book of poetry, Now Might as Well be Then, co-authored a collection of short stories, essays and poems, Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins, with Estelle Rice, and compiled a family history book, Profiles and Pedigrees, Descendants of Thomas Charles Council (1858 - 1911).

To find more of her published work, Click the following link.


After living the first part of her life on a family farm in southwest Georgia, Beall and her husband, Barry, moved to Hayesville, NC in 1995. 

 In 1996, after taking classes with noted poet Nancy Simpson,  she began publishing her writing in literary journals and reviews.  She comes from a family of storytellers and her narrative poetry reflects her ability to tell stories.

She is an advocate for clean air and uses only natural products for cleaning in her home. She is concerned that we use too many chemicals where we live and work and on our bodies. She can be found online at www.glendacouncilbeall.com

NCWN-West is continuing to stay in touch by using technology to share our writing. Also known as NetWest, the organization will offer writing events and writing classes online, while several other writing groups are now meeting face-to-face again.

Those wishing to attend Mountain Wordsmiths may contact Carroll Taylor at vibiaperpetua@gmail.com to receive the Zoom link. We welcome those who would simply like to listen to the beauty of wordsmithing.


By Carroll S. Taylor,  Guest Writer

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Literary Hour at John Campbell Folk School September 15

The North Carolina Writers’ Network-West’s Literary Hour will be held at the John C. Campbell Folk School on Thursday, September 15, 2022, at 7 p.m. The event will be held in the Open House. The Literary Hour is free and open to the public.

The featured writers for September are Karen Paul Holmes and Lorraine Bennett.


Karen Paul Holmes has published two poetry books, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) and Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014). Her poems have been featured on The Writer's Almanac and The Slowdown. Publications include Diode, Valparaiso Review, Verse Daily, and Prairie Schooner. Holmes founded the Side Door Poets in Atlanta, which she still hosts. She also started Writers' Night Out for the North Carolina Writers’ Network-West, which is now in its twelfth year. Held via Zoom on the second Friday of the month, Writers’ Night Out is hosted by Holmes and Glenda Beall. She also teaches periodically at the John C. Campbell Folk School. She will read mostly new poems at the Literary Hour as well as a short selection from No Such Thing as Distance.


Lorraine Martin Bennett is a print, web, and broadcast journalist who grew up in Murphy, North Carolina. She graduated from Murphy High School and UNC Chapel Hill. She has been a journalist with the Atlanta Journal where she met her late husband, Tom, a columnist for the Cherokee Scout. She also wrote for the Los Angeles Times and became the newspaper’s first woman to head a domestic bureau. She joined fledgling CNN as a news writer, becoming copy editor, producer, and editorial manager before ending her television career at CNN International. In retirement, she writes essays, short stories, flash fiction, poetry and still practices her craft by copy editing and occasionally writing articles for the Clay County Progress. Her essays have appeared in the Personal Story Publishing Project (Daniel Boone Footsteps, Winston-Salem) for the past two years, with another coming out soon. Her first novel, Cat on a Black Moon, a psychological thriller, will be published by Austin Macauley (London, Cambridge, New York) later this year. She will read the first two chapters from her new book.


The Literary Hour will be held on the third Thursday of the month through November at John C. Campbell Folk School in the roofed and open pavilion of the Open House. From Clays Corner in Brasstown turn onto Brasstown Road, then turn left on Scoggins Road then left again to pass Davidson Hall. Or coming from Marsh Creek, turn right onto Davidson Road and follow around to Open House. Parking is in front near the vegetable gardens.

 Anyone with a love of the written word will be transported by the talent of the featured writers. Contact Patricia Zick at pczick23@gmail.com for further information

Friday, September 2, 2022

Harvard Alum Kerry Garvin of Bryson City Featured Sept 9 on Zoom

Writers' Night Out - Sept 9, 7 p.m. EST

Reading + Discussion... + Open Mic 

Kerry Garvin, MA in Creative Writing & Literature, Harvard University
Publisher, writer, editor, professor

Hosted by Karen Paul Holmes

Gloria Steinem, on Garvin's book:
"When someone is ill, many old cultures say that they have lost their story. I believe that reading the stories in What Doesn't Kill Her will help each of us to trust and tell our own."

Kerry Garvin left New York City in 2020 and now lives in Bryson City, North Carolina, after spending much of her childhood in the mountains. She's a published writer, editor, and professor. Her book, What Doesn’t Kill Her: Women’s Stories of Resilience, a collection of triumphant survival stories written by women, was published in 2021 and hailed by Gloria Steinem.  Garvin and the book's co-editor, Elisabeth Sharp McKetta, sent out a call for true stories. Sixty brave women rose to the call, and What Doesn't Kill Her was born. 

In 2020, Garvin graduated summa cum laude with a Dean’s Award of Achievement from Harvard University with a Master’s of Liberal Arts in Creative Writing and Literature. That year, she was Harvard University’s Thomas Small Prize Recipient, awarded annually at the university's commencement for both character and academic achievement. She had also earned her Bachelor’s of Liberal Arts with a concentration in Psychology and minor concentration in Creative Writing from Harvard in 2017. 

Garvin co-founded Harridan and Strumpet Books, a women-author run publishing collective with a passion for progressive art that pushes established bounds and publishes voice-driven, high-quality books by a diverse array of writers.  Learn more about her on her website.

Open mic readers are welcome to read poetry or prose for up to 4 minutes (2-poem maximum, please).

Zoom link and Open Mic sign up: Contact Glenda Beall glendabeall@msn.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Recommendation from Jill Jennings

This is an excellent college-level class on American poetry. I sat thru it some years back, and this time it's the same class. And it's free. Definitely worth your time and effort. Plus you can participate fully or just a little. 

Jill Jenningswww.jilljennings.org

Dear current & former friends of ModPo:
Our free (no cost!) & open-to-all 10-week course on modern U.S. poetry continues to thrive. We started way back in 2012 and in ten days or so we will open ModPo 2022!
We would be delighted to welcome you back to ModPo. Even if you cannot imagine having the time to read all the poems, why not re-enroll HERE and take a look at the updated ModPo syllabus of poems and videos? We've added so many new materials!
The famed ModPo TAs will be back for another year. And each week we'll host a live interactive webcast, which you can stream HERE on YouTube.
See below for a copy of the message I sent this afternoon to all currently enrolled ModPo people.
Feel free to forward this to friends who might like our course.With all best wishes,
Al Filreis
Kelly Professor, University of PennsylvaniaFaculty Director, Kelly Writers House Dir., Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing (CPCWCo-Director, PennSound Publisher, Jacket2Teacher/convener, ModPo My new book, 1960info & order

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

From Mary Ricketson

 I'll be reading poems from my book, Lira, Poems of a Woodland Woman this Saturday, off and on between 2 and 4 pm at Mountain Crowns in Brasstown, the shops close to Clay's Corner.  Drop by if you can.

News from Mountain Crowns: 


Pop Up Poetry Reading 


This Saturday, August 27th from 2-4, award winning poet and Murphy resident,  

Mary Ricketson will read from her new book, Lira.  


Mountain Crowns 

10950 Old Hwy 64 

Brasstown, NC. 28902 


Monday, August 22, 2022

Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association offers classes

If you are into visual arts, Blue Ridge Mountain Arts is the place this summer. I'll bet you could teach a writing class for them if you live close enough to Blue Ridge, Georgia. 


This is the home of the Blue Ridge Writers Conference held each spring and founded by Carol Crawford years ago. Carol is a member of NCWN-West and was the facilitator of our Netwest Poetry Critique group when I first moved to these mountains. 

BRMAA has always been a friend to us and recently sold one of my poetry books in their gift shop. Thanks, BRMAA.

"Crop Dusters"

Karen Jackson's Poem Published in Susurrus

Karen Luke Jackson
"Crop Dusters," a poem about my mother and bluebirds, just appeared in the summer issue of Susurrus, a relatively new online journal that focuses on the American South.  Below are links to the poem and to the journal if you'd like to check it out. 

Crop Dusters 


Sunday, August 21, 2022

Celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Gene Hirsch, poet


Those in the photo above met Saturday afternoon to celebrate the life of the late Dr. Gene Hirsch who was the founder of the writing program at the John C. Campbell Folk School in the early nineties. Because of his dedication to writing and writers, many poets, novelists, and creative nonfiction writers found their voices, and found the confidence and inspiration to write their stories in verse or in prose.

All of us present on Saturday told our story of how Gene influenced us. He was the most generous of people and taught poetry classes for free out of his cabin in Cherokee County NC.

He taught at the folk school every time he came down from his home in Pennsylvania where he worked as a geriatric doctor. Gene was a person who encouraged others. He never made anyone feel they were unworthy to call themselves poets and as a result so many people published their words that were found to be important to others. 

I am especially grateful to Gene Hirsch because the writing program at the John Campbell Folk School was where most of my writing education took place. I did not study creative writing in college but was once told I had an equivalent of a master's degree right here from the best writers anywhere. 

People like Valerie Nieman, Kathryn Byer, Darnell Arnoult, Steven Harvey, Carol Crawford, Nancy Simpson, and so many other wonderful teachers came to Brasstown NC, and taught us for a week and made a huge difference in our lives. 

I took one or two week-long classes every year for ten years and then I taught at the folk school. Thank you, Gene. You never knew how many people you touched because you convinced the director and the board of the folk school to include the craft of writing in their schedule.

Thanks to Mary Ricketson for organizing this memorial to Gene.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Famous Hometown Poet Brenda K. Ledford Will Speak at Coffee with the Poets and Writers

Coffee with the Poets and Writers (CWPW) will feature award-winning poet Brenda K. Ledford on Wednesday, September 14, at 10:30 A.M. at the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, N.C.
The event is free and open to the public.  
An open mic will follow the presentation. Bring a poem or short prose piece of about three minutes to participate. CWPW is sponsored by North Carolina Writers' Network West (NCWN-West) which also includes writers in Towns, Union, Fannin, and Rabun Counties in Georgia.
Brenda K. Ledford is a seventh-generational native of Clay County, NC. She was an honor graduate of Hayesville High School and earned a Master of Arts in Education from Western Carolina University. She's done post-graduate work in Journalism at the University of Tennessee and holds a degree of highest honor in Creative Writing from Stratford Career Institute.
Ledford's work has appeared in many publications including Our State, Asheville Poetry Review, Appalachian Heritage, 50 Old Mountain Press anthologies, and many other journals.  She's received the Paul Green Multimedia Award thirteen times for her blogs, books, and collecting oral history on Southern Appalachia. 

Her children's book The Singing Convention received the "Children's Book Award" in 2021 from the North Carolina Society of Historians. Her poetry book, Leatherwood Fallsis upcoming with Kelsay Books.
Besides writing, her hobbies include storytelling, playing the keyboard and harmonica, singing Gospel music, and reading.  She also enjoys photography and has won awards for her landscape and nature photos.
Her award-winning blog can be reached at https://blueridgepoet.blogspot.com/
Coffee With the Poets and Writers will meet every second Wednesday from June until December 2022.
Please do not park in the Book Store parking lot. For information contact Joan Howard joanhoward121@gmail.com.
Written by Joan Howard

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Writing In, Of and For Place, Fall 2022 Writer's Workshop

 Fall 2022 Writer’s Workshop

Writing In, Of and For Place
With Annette Clapsaddle
Author of “Even as We Breathe”

Explore methods for infusing physical sensation and environmental awareness into your writing through practice, observation, and structure. We will focus on what it is like to experience a specific landscape and community and the responsibilities we have when sharing it with others through our writing. This workshop is applicable to fiction and creative nonfiction writers. All levels welcome.

Annette Clapsaddle


September 24, 2022
9am-3 pm
$100 per Person
Lunch Included
Register at Coweeschool.org

Register Now – Class is limited to 15 participants

Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center
51 Cowee School Drive
Franklin, NC 28734

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Memorial planned for Dr. Gene Hirsch, poet and inspiring leader of writers in western NC and North Georgia

 Saturday, August 20,  1 - 2 PM at John C. Campbell Folk School in Open House Pavilion on campus

Bring a poem of Gene’s or a poem of your own to share.

Dr. Gene Hirsch inspired so many poets in our area to look at the world in unique ways. He inspired us with his kindness and his permission to take a chance with our writing. He wanted poets to have a safe and supportive place to create. Gene never liked to judge others. He respected all. 

Through his support of North Carolina Writers Network -West and through his classes at the Folk School he was one of the people who opened our world in these beautiful mountains to be a poetry place where poetry was, is, and will continue to be created. He influenced everyone he met.

Directions to the  site of the memorial:

Approaching the John C. Campbel Folk School from the area of Clays Corner and the Shops of Brasstown, take the first left, past the gift shop, past Davidson Hall, and see the Open House pavilion on right. Parking is available there, close, or down at the gift shop for those who prefer to walk a bit. One unisex restroom is available in Open House.

Thanks for helping us honor Gene.

Diana Smith and Mary Ricketson

No need to RSVP

If need to contact:  Mary Ricketson maryricketson311@hotmail.com

                                   Diana Smith  paws10@windstream.net

Friday, August 12, 2022

Writer and Poet David Plunkett to be Featured Reader for Mountain Wordsmiths

 Members of Mountain Wordsmiths are honored to have as our featured reader David Plunkett on Thursday morning, August 25, at 10:30 via Zoom. Our monthly gathering, sponsored by the North Carolina Writers’ Network-West, will continue its online Zoom presence because local writers as well as writers from other cities and states are now joining us each month online.

Plunkett is the author of two novels Chessboard (2019) and Poisoned Pawn (2022).  Readers of Chessboard call it “intriguing and captivating,” a “strong story… about human nature, the shadow workings of our government and terrorists in Afghanistan,” and an “accurate and believable… contemporary thriller.” His poems “North Carolina Mountains Shade to Blue” and “Saturday” were included in the most recent Old Mountain Press anthologies The Cataloochee Bridge and Oops.  Other poems “Kitner’s Dog” and “Moby Dick” and the short story “Evidence” were published in the scrivener.

As a journalist, Plunkett has won writing awards for reporting and feature writing from the Georgia Press Association and the Alabama Press Association.

As Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, DC, his professional writing has been published in law journals and magazines, as well as food industry newsletters, and was influential on national and state policies affecting food safety and consumer protection.

Plunkett began writing poetry and short stories in elementary school and continued to write for pleasure through college and law school, publishing several poems in various college student publications.

He hopes to close out the Chessboard series with a third novel tentatively titled Endgame. Other projects currently in the works are a chapbook of sonnets and other poems tentatively titled A Sonnet for My Wife and collections of his short stories and flash fiction.

Plunkett lives with his wife Vickie in Towns County, GA, just a long centerfield throw to home plate from Lake Chatuge and within walking distance of a curiously detached section of North Carolina.

NCWN-West is continuing to stay in touch by using technology to share our writing. Also known as NetWest, our organization will offer writing events and writing classes online, while several writing groups are now meeting face-to-face again.

Those wishing to attend Mountain Wordsmiths may contact Carroll Taylor at vibiaperpetua@gmail.com to receive the Zoom link. We welcome those who would simply like to listen to the beauty of wordsmithing.

By Carroll Taylor