Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Cherry Mountain

Cherry Mountain
In memory of:  Poet Nancy Simpson

Above the frost line
on Cherry Mountain,
daffodils spread a quilt

on Valentine's Day.
The rain crow cooing
above the frost line.

A breeze whispers your name,
muse flowing like a brook
on Cherry Mountain.

The mountain writer
leaves a legacy of words,
daffodils spread a Lone Star quilt.

              --Brenda Kay Ledford

Nancy was a dear friend.  Like many other writers, I studied poetry under her.  She was a mentor to many people and always encouraged us to express our creativity.  We will miss her very much.

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Poet of Distinction, Nancy Simpson

It was with a very sad heart that I heard the news I had feared hearing today. My mentor and teacher, Nancy Simpson, poet and co-founder of NCWN-West, passed away today, February 17, 2018. She had been ill for a few months and had surgery at Emory Hospital.
We will miss her advice, her knowledge of our history and the journey she traveled to bring writing and publishing opportunities to those who lived where the difficult terrain of these mountains made it hard to find, and form a writing community. She was a strong advocate for those of us who were being short-changed because of where we lived. She was often a force to be reckoned with when she saw discrepancies in the way the poets and writers here in our area, back in the nineties, seemed to be ignored although we paid the same dues as those in the Piedmont area.
Nancy Simpson was a poet of distinction. Her poems appeared in the best journals. She authored three poetry books, Night Student, Across Water and Living Above the Frost Line, New and Selected Poems published by Carolina Wren Press (N.C. Laureate Series, 2010.)  With the late Kathryn Stripling Byer, Nancy Simpson went to the leaders of NCWN and the NC Arts Council to insist they bring to us a program which we have used for more than twenty-five years to form a writing community that has grown in number and in quality of work published. At first the program stumbled when the original program coordinator moved away. But Nancy Simpson stepped in and dedicated her time and energy for thirteen years as program coordinator and kept NCWN-West working for all of us. 
As many of us who enrolled in classes with Nancy at Tri-County Community College can attest, she gave generously of herself to her students. With Nancy's mentoring we fell in love with poetry as she had. In my first class with Nancy at the John C. Campbell Folk School, I shyly handed her some verses I had written. "Is this a poem?" I asked. She read it, smiled, and said, "Yes, this is a poem."
Within a year I had submitted and had published several poems. So many of us in Clay and Cherokee Counties in North Carolina and Towns and Union Counties in Georgia owe Nancy Simpson more than we could ever repay.

As program coordinator, she always had two representatives in the eight counties of NC, and the north Georgia region when she had only the telephone with which to communicate to those members so far from where she lived. All counties were involved through their representatives. This was before there were any regional reps for NCWN. Unlike in a city, writing groups were scarce in our area.

Nancy taught us how to hold a critique group where everyone respected each other and no one was rudely treated, verbally attacked, or made to feel they did not belong. She was a teacher and a leader. She helped to create professional critique groups for our members. This brought writers from miles away who were looking for that kind of group.

As a teacher of writing now, I refer to my notes from Nancy's classes in 1995, 1996, and later. I pass on the teachings of my mentor, my friend. Even after she resigned as program coordinator, she stayed involved with NCWN-West. She edited our last anthology, Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, which sold nearly 2,000 copies.

Nancy Simpson was also a special needs teacher in the schools in Hayesville, NC. After teaching all day, she drove two hours one way at night to Warren Wilson College to earn her masters degree.

The death of her son from cancer was a devastating blow. I believe that was when her health began to fail. While grieving her loss, she worked day and night on Echoes Across the Blue Ridge. It was a big undertaking for someone who was in mourning. She was proud of the book and so were we all. 
She spent so much of her time encouraging and teaching others, that she fell behind in publishing her own books of poetry. When her last book was submitted to a press, I heard that the editor was not eager to publish it because of Nancy's age. Her age was not the problem. It was her health. Sadly, by the time the book came out, Nancy was not strong enough to travel and do book signings. Although all of us who knew her treasured that book, if she had been able to travel across the state so many more people would own one of them. The book is still available  Here.

To know more about this outstanding woman, visit her blog. She had the most gorgeous flower garden and joyed in sharing pictures with her readers. Read her poetry and learn from this poet who published in all the major journals and was highly respected by editors and publishers, not only in North Carolina, but from California to Maine.

While Nancy Simpson is not with us physically we will always carry with us the memories of her teaching, her mentoring and her love for poetry.

Glenda Barrett, one of Nancy's poetry students,  and Nancy Simpson

Sunday, February 18, 2018

We say Goodbye to a Founder of NCWN-West, Nancy Simpson

It is with deep sadness that I write to you of the passing of Nancy Simpson. Nancy was an important member of the writing community, a practicing poet, a teacher, and a friend.

She was an active member of the North Carolina Writers' Network since its inception in 1985 and served on the Executive Board. In 1991 she co-founded the North Carolina Writers' Network-West, a program to serve writers in the remote areas of the North Carolina mountains. She served as program coordinator for 10 years.

A long time English educator and poet, Nancy Simpson spent 26 years teaching in the exceptional children's programs in North Carolina. Retiring in 2001, she simultaneously spent 14 years as an instructor of creative writing at the Tri-County Community College from 1989 to 2003, in Murphy, NC.

She taught poetry part-time at the Institute for Continued Learning at Young Harris College, creative writing in the middle school grades and English composition, and American Literature.

For 15 years Simpson was employed part-time as a Resident Writer at John C. Campbell Folk School where her job was to schedule writing classes and to teach Poetry and Historical Novel.

Her books include: Across Water, Night Student, and Living Above the Frost Line, New and Selected Poems. Ms. Simpson and Shirley Uphouse co-edited Lights in the Mountains: Stories, Essays and Poems by Writers Living in and Inspired by the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Simpson also served as editor of Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, an anthology released in 2010. Simpson authored numerous poems published in literary publications. Some were reprinted in anthologies such as The Poet's Guide to the Birds, Word and Wisdom – 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry. Also, 7 of her poems were reprinted in a textbook of Appalachian poets.

Here is a link to Nancy's obituary pagehttp://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Nancy-Brantley&lc=4946&pid=188221106&mid=7765502

Nancy had requested that donations be made to NCWN-West, in lieu of flowers. If you are interested in donating in her name, please send a check made out to: NCWN-West, with donation in memory Nancy Simpson in the subject line, and send it to:

Newton Smith, Treasurer
6875 Canada Road
Tuckaseegee, NC 28783

The NCWN-West will hold a memorial for Nancy sometime in the spring of 2018.
Simpson blogged at : http://nancysimpson.blogspot.com/.

Here is a video link of Nancy reading two of her poems: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ikS2s5Mq9g

Joan Ellen Gage
Admin NCWN-West

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Return of the Old Time Radio Show, hosted by Ridgeline Literary Alliance and Cherokee Co. Arts Council, Saturday, February 17, 2018, in Murphy, NC

Old Time Radio Show Returns!

Old Time Radio Show returns Saturday February 17, 2018, at 2 PM, at the Murphy Art Center, 33 Valley River Ave, Murphy, NC, in the Cultural Calendar Room. Ridgeline Literary Alliance, a group of local writers, has teamed up with the Arts Council to present an afternoon of live entertainment, free to the public. Come one, come all, no reservations needed. 

Original stories by Loren Leith of Andrews provide the scripts for three humorous and poignant radio shows, a rare taste of entertainment from the era before television. The cast, members of Ridgeline Literary Alliance and Cherokee County Arts Council, are among the best of local talent.
Author members of Ridgeline Literary Alliance will read short segments of their best writing.

Come to this fun filled event provided by your own local artists in the comfort of Murphy Arts Center, downtown Murphy, NC.

For more information, contact CCAC at:

Monday, February 5, 2018

Georgia Author of the Year Deadline for Submissions Extended

Nominations for the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year Awards are now EXTENDED to February 12, 2018

Georgia Author of the Year Nomination Form 2018
Official 54th GAYA Guidelines 2018
Please review these guidelines before submitting a nomination. Download the nomination form here.
Nomination Fee: $60 per nomination
Deadline: February 12, 2018
Only chapbooks and books published within the 2017 calendar year (January 1 to December 31) are eligible. Traditionally published or self-published books are eligible, as are electronically published books on a major platform (Kindle, Nook, or iPad), for a fee of $60. For electronic books, a URL and ISBN must be provided as well as one print copy of the text for judges to review. Books will not be considered nominated if any of these guidelines are not met and materials and payment are not postmarked by February 12, 2018. First- and second-place winners will be announced at the Georgia Author of the Year (GAYA) ceremony on June 16, 2018.

Required Materials
Must be received on or before Monday, February 12, 2018 (postmarked)
Two hard-copies of the nominated book, the completed nomination form, and the $60 fee must be mailed to:
Georgia Writers Association
Georgia Author of the Year Awards 
440 Bartow Avenue #2701 
Kennesaw, GA 30144

Definition of a Georgia Author for the 54th GAYA
To be considered a Georgia author and thus eligible for nomination for GAYA, an author must meet one of the following criteria: the author must have been a resident of Georgia when the nominated book was written, though she or he may have since moved out of state; or the author must be currently living in Georgia when the book is nominated.

Definitions of GAYA Categories for the 54th GAYA
A book may be nominated in only one category selected by the nominator.
  • Detective/Mystery—A novel by a single author featuring a crime or crimes
  • First Novel—First published novel by a single author
  • Literary Fiction—A novel by a single author
  • Romance—A novel by a single author intended for the mass-market and involving a primary focus on relationships
  • Science Fiction— A novel by a single author that is grounded in the science or technology of the future
  • Short Story Collection—By a single author
  • Chapbook—By a single poet and generally no more than 40 pages
  • Full-Length Book—By a single poet
  • Biography—A life history that is a fact-based, referenced life story of a person, a group of people, or a family. This category does not include autobiography, which should be nominated under
  • Cookbook—Books that contain a collection of recipes, techniques, or focus on the exploration of food, cooking, and culture of food.
  • Essay—A collection by a single author that sustains a single topic or theme. May not be an anthology of essays by multiple authors
  • HistoryResearch-based books which use narratives to examine and analyze past events
  • Inspirational—Books on topics in self-help, life improvement, motivational, religious, or spiritual.
  • Memoir—A book that is an account of one’s personal life and experiences by a single author
  • Specialty Book—Books that include a visual element such as art or photography.
Children’s Book—Books written for ages 9 and younger by a single author (and/or illustrator). A children’s book includes picture books and can be fiction or nonfiction.
GLBTQ—Works produced by or for the GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer) community and can be fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.
Graphic Novel—A narrative work where the story is told not only through words, but also sequential art and can be fiction or nonfiction.
Young Adult—Books written for ages 10 and older by a single author (and/or illustrator), and are either fiction or nonfiction.

In the Event a Category Has Fewer than Four Nominees
If a category has fewer than four nominees, authors will have the opportunity to move their books to the next best category. For example, if there are only two books in the Romance category, the authors will be notified and may choose to place the book in the Literary Fiction category. If the author decides that no other category is suitable, the nomination fee will be refunded.
In the Event an Award Is Not Made in a Category
The Georgia Writers Association reserves the right to not award a winner in a category if it is determined that none of the nominations should win. If no winner is selected due to a lack of sufficient nominations in a category, the nomination fee will be refunded. However, if the category judge determines that a category has no first– or second–place winner, the nomination fee will not be refunded.


Friday, February 2, 2018

Now Available: Second Book by Karen Paul Holmes

"Like a circus aerialist who makes us gasp one moment and laugh the next, the poet takes us from her immigrant father’s Macedonian roots to her own maturity, to the life of a woman who is smart and well-read yet knows her way around a Coney Island hot dog..."
- Poet David Kirby

"Her title may signal quantum physics, but it’s also how close this poet whispers in her reader’s ear."

- Poet Denise Duhamel

Now available
click for link to purchase:

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Betty Jameson Reed has an essay included in Fifty over Sixty and a poem appearing in Lucidity Poetry Journal

Reed's essay, a personal narrative, has been included in Wayne H. Drumheller's Fifty over Sixty and her poem, "Food," appears in the Spring 2018 issue of Lucidity Poetry Journal.

Betty Jamerson Reed, a native of Western North Carolina, enjoys playing with words. Her poems have appeared in Lucidity Poetry Journal, Living with Grief, and Friends Journal, as well as anthologies such as Echoes across the Blue Ridge, (2010), It's All Relative: Tales from the Tree (2016), as well as in the special "Signature (2016) " and "Windows (2017)" anthologies of River Poets. Two of her poems appear in Mountain Mist (2017) 
She is also the author of two award-winning works of nonfiction: The Brevard Rosenwald School (2004) and School