Showing posts with label Environmental Poems by Nancy Simpson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Environmental Poems by Nancy Simpson. Show all posts

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Celebrate Nancy Simpson

Nancy Simpson celebrates her 100th post on her blog, Living Above the Frost Line. Look at the photo on her page today of some Netwest members back in 1998 when we soaked up Nancy's gifts in her classes at Tri-County Community College. Can you name those writers?

Saturday, September 20, 2008


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 picnics over the years.

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. Oops.

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

Monday, September 1, 2008

Netwest poets published in new anthology

We are proud to see some of our own Netwest poets in the company of the best poets in America in an anthology edited by Judith Kitchen , a new anthology about birds. It comes out in January 2009. Look for Nancy Simpson and Janice Townley Moore. If you read poetry, you will recognize many famous poets in the following list.

Dear Friends,“We hope this particular flock of poems succeeds in portraying birds in so many guises (or disguises) that one is forced to look more closely—as if through binoculars—to where these poets guide us.” Wish you were here . . .Yours, Judith Kitchen

The perfect gift for all the readers and/or birders in your life!
An anthology of poems
A dissimulation of birds
Betty Adcock, Kim Addonizio, Sandra Alcosser, Pamela Alexander, Linda Allardt, Christianne Balk, Rick Barot, Bruce Bennett, Boyd Benson, Wendell Berry, Linda Bierds, David Biespiel, Wendy Bishop, Ralph Black, Bruce Bond, Philip Booth, Marianne Boruch, David Bottoms, John Brehm, Geoff Brock, Van K. Brock, Fleda Brown, Rick Campbell, Hayden Carruth, Robert Cording, Stephen Corey, Deborah Cummins, Robert Dana, Philip Deaver, Madeline DeFrees, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Wayne Dodd, Stephen Dunn, John Engels, David Allan Evans, Amy Fleury, Richard Foerster, Chris Forhan, Erica Funkhouser, Tess Gallagher, Brendan Galvin, George Garrett, Frank Gaspar, Dan Gerber, Nancy Geyer, Kevin Goodan, Sally Green, Samuel Green, Jonathan Greene, Eamon Grennan, Pamela Gross, John Haines, Barbara Hamby, Michael S. Harper, Jeffrey Harrison, Jim Harrison, Lola Haskins, Robert Hedin, William Heyen, Jane Hirshfield, Jonathan Holden, David Huddle, Holly Hughes, Harry Humes, M.J. Iuppa, Gray Jacobik, Eve Joseph, Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Robert Kinsley, Patricia Kirkpatrick, William Kloefkorn, C.L. Knight, Ted Kooser, Stephen Kuusisto, Steve Lautermilch, Donna Long, Denise Low, Peter Makuck, Jeff Daniel Marion, Dionisio Martinez, Dan Masterson, Jo McDougall, James McKean, Molly McQuade, W.S. Merwin, Lawrence Millman, Judson Mitcham, Janice Townley Moore, Jim Moore, Robert Morgan, Leonard Nathan, Duane Niatum, Naomi Shihab Nye, Ed Ochester, Carole Oles, William Olsen, Eric Pankey, Linda Pastan, Ricardo Pau-Llosa, Jim Peterson, Carl Phillips, Stanley Plumly, John Poch, Joshua Poteat, Lawrence Raab, Keith Ratzlaff, James Richardson, Pattiann Rogers, Stan Sanvel Rubin, Marjorie Saiser, Peter Schmitt, Grace Schulman, Gary Short, Peggy Shumaker, Charles Simic, Nancy Simpson, R.T. Smith, William Jay Smith, Barry Spacks, Matthew J. Spireng, A.E. Stallings, Timothy Steele, Joseph Stroud, Julie Suk, Daniel Tobin, Natasha Trethewey, David Wagoner, Kathleen Wakefield, Ronald Wallace, Donovan L. Welch, William Wenthe, Tarn Wilson, Charles Wright, Robert Wrigley, Paul Zimmer, Lisa Zimmerman.

Publication date: January 2009 Price: $22.00 Early orders—25% discount ($16.50 each). Pre-order by December 1, 2008 for shipment before Christmas. Shipping fee: $4.00, plus $1.00 for each additional copy. Use Paypal option at or simply email your request to and you’ll receive an invoice. Or send orders to:Anhinga Press, P. O. Box 10595, Tallahassee, FL 32302.

This post was taken from Sheila Bender's blog:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Netwest Honors Nancy Simpson

A surprised Nancy Simpson was honored at the Celebration of Books and published authors and poets on Thursday evening, July 17. After a day at John C. Campbell Folk School where Nancy presented to the North Carolina Arts Council Board along with Kathryn Byer, she found herself acclaimed by award winning poets and recently published poets who began their writing in her classes at the Folk School, or in one of her many classes at Tri-County Community School. Glenda Barrett, whose chapbook, When the Sap Rises, was published by Finishing Line Press, brought a painting of mountains and Lake Chatuge that she had done for Nancy. Kathryn Byer, Poet Laureate of North Carolina and Debbie McGill, Literary Arts Director for the NC Arts Council spoke about when they first met Nancy. "I met Nancy when I came to read in Hayesville at the library when my daughter was a babe in my arms," Kay said. She went on to talk about her admiration of Nancy as a poet. She wanted us to realize that Nancy Simpson, while a wonderful teacher and leader, was first and foremost, a poet.

Debbie remembered how tenacious Nancy had been about Netwest and would not take "NO" for an answer when it came to getting what was needed for writers here in the rural mountains of North Carolina.

Brenda Kay Ledford, award winning poet, spoke about her first class with Nancy and how so many of us who were present Thursday evening, met in Nancy's classes. Glenda Barrett and Mary Ricketson expressed gratitude for Nancy's encouragement to those of us who call her our mentor. Mother and daughter, Dorothea Spiegel and Linda Smith, both met Nancy in one of her classes. Dorothea is likely one of the best poets in the area. She is in her 80's now and still writes excellent poems.

Netwest presented Nancy with a check to add to her computer fund. She is saving for a much-needed new Mac, and we want her to continue to write poetry and finish the historical novel she has begun.

Also, she will need it for her work on the proposed new Netwest anthology she will be editing.

There is no financial value we can put on the dedication and generosity Nancy devoted to NCWN West for thirteen years. Without her constant efforts to obtain funding, to maintain interest in all the counties represented, and keep mountain writers connected to each other and to Raleigh and Chapel Hill, we would not have continued as a program of NCWN.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Writers and Poets Reading Stories and Poems

JC Walkup from Canton, NC and Paul Donovan from Murphy, read to an enthusiastic audience at John C. Campbell Folk School Thursday evening. Dr. Gene Hirsch and students in his current poetry class were present for the reading, as well as Nancy Simpson, writer-in-residence at JCCFS. Paul Donovan told the group, representing many different states in the United States, that they were in the presence of some very important people to writers in western NC. Dr. Hirsch founded the writing program at the folk school, and Nancy Simpson brings in the wonderful faculty each year. Nancy served as Program Coordinator for Netwest for 13 years and continues to mentor and teach poetry.

JC read a gory horror story which kept the listeners on the edge of their seats. Her husband Bob says JC finds ideas for her stories wherever they travel. Just one little incident can grow into an interesting mystery.

Paul Donovan gave one of his very best readings ever. With his tongue-in-cheek humor his poetry often ends with a twist, but a little of the dark slips into his work occasionally.

Reading in May, on the third Thursday, will be Shirley Uphouse, non-fiction writer and Brenda Kay Ledford, award winning poet. Time is 7:00 p.m. at John C. Campbell Keith House living room.

Monday, February 18, 2008


I believe concerns for the environment have a place
in literature, but apprehension for our planet is seldom voiced
in poetry. The poems may be written, but they aren’t often
published. With subjects of science, a poet must tread lightly.
Poets are not allowed to preach the world a sermon. Like most
practicing poets, I write what comes to me. When environmental
concerns grow in my poems, I think, this poem will never get
published. I work harder on these than on my others. Here are three
that slipped passed the editors.

Three Environmental Poems by Nancy Simpson


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 as if lost, asking
What? Who?

Back to reason, back home
she finishes 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.

First published in Pembroke Magazine
and featured on the NC Poet Laureate’s Web site,


The green ghost in me is the land
I sold to the land developers.
They wanted money. I wanted time
that money can buy, but got
a kind of poverty. They cut trees,
dug deep septic tanks, and paved
a road across the highest ridge.
I sold my spring branch,
gave up my bloodroot.
Twenty houses line the ridge
where trees stood. Men who live
in the houses take out their trash.
They bring in wood for their fires.
In summer women sunbathe on wide decks
that extend out over the mountainsides.
Barking dogs frighten fox kits.
The old bear is gone,
and squirrels are settling down ridge.
I got cash from people who want to live
at the top, who feel transcendent viewing
the blue lake that glistens in the distance.
They are exalted looking down on
the slow mob that moves through the valley.
I have some money now, but I am poor,
leaving with a green ghost in me.

First published in The Georgia Journal
and reprinted in State Street Reader


The plan was to turn left
at the corner, go home,
but I took her hand,
went right instead because
there was a turtle in distress.

The turtle was large,
with a scarred shell
and seemed confused,
moving from the sidewalk
into rush hour traffic.

I said “Mother Earth is calling,”
and my granddaughter, not five,
believed and followed me.
She asked, “How did you hear
Mother Earth calling?”

The turtle pulled in its head.
I said, “I didn’t hear with my ears.”
“Uh huh,” Sarah nodded. She spoke
the way one speaks to a pet,
said, “Come out.”

The turtle stuck out its head.
I turned it toward the lake.
It left the sidewalk,
slid across the grass, down the bank,
and splashed with gusto into the water.

We cheered. I said, “Turtles
are old, best loved creatures.”
“Shhhhh,” Sarah hissed, said, “I know”.
We walked a second time
around Lake Knowles, then home.

Previously published in Prairie Schooner

Nancy Simpson is the author of ACROSS WATER and NIGHT STUDENT
(State Street Press), and editor of LIGHTS IN THE MOUNTAINS, Stories,
Essays, and Poems by Writers Living in or Inspired by the Southern Appalachian
Mountains. Her poems were published in The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner,
Indiana Review and other literary magazines. Most recently she had poems in
Southern Poetry Review, Journal of Kentucky Studies and Cooweescoowee
Review from Will Rogers University in Oklahoma. Poems were reprinted
in anthologies: WORD and WITNESS, 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry,
Literary Trails of N.C. and seven poems will be included in Southern Appalachian
Poetry forthcoming from McFarland Press.