A Day for Writers 2019 - Presenters and Registration form

Sylva, NC, August 24, 2019,

C. Hope Clark, Joseph Bathanti, David Joy, Karen Holmes, Carol Crawford, Pat Vestal, Katie Winkler, Meagan Lucas

9:00 - 4:30, fee includes lunch, coffee, drinks and pastries
Copy registration form and mail with check or money order to:
NCWN-West, % Glenda Beall,
PO Box 843, Hayesville, NC 28904

Register online at www.ncwriters.org before August 19.

Check Sidebar of this site for Pages:
A Day for Writers 2019

A Day for Writers 2019 Registration Form

Showing posts with label Free Verse Poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Free Verse Poetry. Show all posts

Saturday, December 17, 2011


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


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.


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, November 18, 2008


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

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

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

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lace Shawl by Michelle Keller


The sign says Estate Sale, code words,
someone died, usually a grandmother,
mother or elderly aunt, the men already gone.

Two great nieces sit in overstuffed chairs
drawn to an early American table, topped
with Japanese Hummels and sandwiches
on waxpaper, potato chips and half full cola cans.

This is part of the ritual of letting go,
after all no one wants Aunt Mae’s old things.
The great nieces live in new vinyl houses,
decorated with designer furniture of pressed wood,
poly-acrylic protected, permanent press Pricillas,
and rent to own.

Put up that sign and strangers rush
in where family fears to tread.
I confess, I am one of those strangers,
I walk reverently through the house, after all
she well could have passed in this room.
Not wanting to appear insensitive, a vulture,
I examine, measure with care the leavings,
those in sight of the great nieces… mourners.

In the bedroom I quickly sum up a life’s accumulation,
unused gifts from sons and daughters, worn quilts
pieced by her mother, polyester dresses and slips,
straps pinned shorter with safety pins. I untangle
a lace shawl tossed on the floor in a cardboard box.
Aunt Mae had run a string through the top cupping
it to fit around her frail shoulders. I hold it up,
admire the flower tracings tatted into the triangle
of silky fringe. It cannot be much,
an old woman’s shawl.

Michelle Keller, a member of Netwest and hostess for Coffee With the Poets, also submits announcements to newspapers about Netwest events. Contact her about reading at John Campbell Folk School in 2009 if you are a NCWN West member. mmkeller@brmemc.net

Monday, February 4, 2008


Hello fellow Netwest Writers. Below is part of a talk I gave Oct. 21, 2007, Young Harris College, at the state meeting of the Georgia Poetry Society. Please feel free to share this with others, but do not reprint or publish without my permission. 2-4-08, Nancy Simpson

continued Part II

4) Master poets from the past fine-tuned the sound of their poems. Free verse poets now have a hard job. After avoiding meter and rhyme, we still have to make our poems sing with sound. Our poems must be pleasing to the ear.

Sound in free verse is accomplished with different techniques. We use of alliteration. Our best alliteration is welcome, but again, alliteration seems to be not favored by the Literary Magazine editors of today. What is more popular today is the use of consonance, where you repeat the consonant sound in the middle or at the end of the word. Assonance, much appreciated now, is a more subtle way to build sound. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds such as (this example using long i sound)
like a line of white mice.

Another way free verse poets build cadence into their poems is to prefer and to use one syllable words. When you use one syllable words, each syllable gets a beat. Beat is the foundation of music. The use of multi syllabic words in the same line can ruin a good poem fast. If you have a beautiful word you cannot part with, try using it as a title. If you insist on using multi syllabic words in the body of the poem, go back and hone the poem to mostly one and two syllable words. Do this to secure the sound.

5) The poets of old connected with their reader on a sensory level. There is no better way to hook your reader then to use sensory images. Why does it work now the same as it worked then? Think of it. A
new born human has no other way to learn, for years, except to take in information through the senses - sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. As a human, if nothing terrible happens, we use our senses every day
of our lives, until the moment we die. There is no better, no faster way to connect with your reader than through sensory images.

6. The poets of old connected with their reader on an emotional level? Free verse poets must also make that connection. How is it done? Choice of words, words drenched in emotion: When the reader reads these words, they feel emotionally connected. “family”, “mother”, “frown”, “mock”, “smack”, “nothing remains”, “wreck”, “battered on one knuckle”, “prison,” “divorce papers”, Word choice. That is how you put emotion into your poems.

7. The poets of old connected with their reader on an intellectual level. Free verse poets must also make that intellectual connection. The best way is not to tell the reader everything. What keeps people reading poetry today is the joy they find in being able to use their own intelligence, to be able fill in the gaps of what is not said, and to be able to say, “Yes. I know.”

--Nancy Simpson Part III will be posted 2-5-08 on this site