Showing posts with label Glenda Council Beall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Glenda Council Beall. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Interview with Karen Paul Holmes

This is an interview with poet and member of  NCWN-West, Karen Paul Holmes. It was published online last year.




KAREN PAUL HOLMES INTERVIEW
WITH GLENDA COUNCIL BEALL
May 14, 2018

GCB: Your new book is No Such Thing as Distance, published by Terrapin Books. Did you have a particular audience in mind with this collection?
KPH: First of all, thanks so much for this interview, Glenda.
My goal is to create poems that touch people in some way—through an aha-moment, a connection to the subject or image, a shared laugh, etc.  By people, I mean anyone, not a specific audience. When I chose poems for this manuscript, I did have themes in mind but hoped the book would appeal to a variety of readers. The interwoven themes are family (especially Macedonian cultural traditions), music, nature, grief, and healing. I included a few traditional recipes at the back of the book, because cooking together is one ways my family connects, and, of course, that’s pretty much universal. 

GCB: I like getting to know your parents in the poems in your latest book. I had the pleasure of meeting your mother when she came to my studio, when my dog stole her lunch. She was a good sport. She must have loved your father intensely to leave Australia to marry him and live in the United States.  In the poem, “Matilda Waltzing,” we sense she harbored homesickness, as any of us would likely feel. Did she tell you she was homesick and that she missed her family in Australia?
KPH: It’s funny you brought up your dog stealing her lunch, because my dog stole her Angelo’s Coney Island hot dog once! That was my dad’s restaurant in Flint, Michigan, and the recipe for the secret sauce is in the book. Anyway, I don’t ever remember my mother using the word “homesick,” but she always talked longingly about Australia, and she really hated Michigan winters. After she moved to Florida, she felt more at home in the tropical climate, but I think she remained nostalgic about the home and family she left Down Under—she only returned twice to visit. My siblings and I used to time how long it would take her to tell a stranger that she was from Australia – usually under five minutes. To be fair, though, she still had some of her accent, and people would often ask where she was from. But when she answered, she made it seem like she was just visiting the US temporarily, which says a lot about her strong roots.

GCB: “Macedonian Bean Soup” surprised me. It hails back to your marriage, your ex-husband, and your father. Food brings forth stronger memories than almost anything, and I enjoyed the image of your husband and your father cooking the soup. Have you made this soup?
KPH: Yes, I found my ex’s handwritten notes and made the soup for the first time last year. The poem says “Perhaps one day, I’ll make it myself,” and so I thought, “What’s stopping me?” It was yummy and just like my dad would make. I’m kind of sorry some of the poems mention my ex, but certain events or themes always seem to slip into our writing, don’t they? So I just have to accept that. The 31-year marriage was a huge part of my life, after all, and affects how I am today.

GCB: You make poems from the most mundane sometimes. We see how observant you are of nature and the world around you. Tell me about your writing process for “Ant Fest.”
KPH: My process is almost always the same. Something gets into my head—usually a line or a title—and sometimes that something turns into a whole poem that might meander into an entirely different something, like how killing the ants turns into releasing frustrations for all sorts of past events. I think in this case, the ants’ drunkenness seemed funny and interesting to me, hence the first two lines, “Drunk on liquid bait, they stumble/ across the white bathroom tile.” If I remember correctly, those lines started out as the poem’s opening and remained through all my revisions, though often I move things around when editing.

GCB: “Confessions of an Ugly Nightgown” is one of my favorite poems. This is a persona poem. How did this idea come to you? Did your mother talk about her life growing up in Australia?

KPH: That’s quite an old poem, perhaps the first one I wrote about my mother. The title came to me first, so then I had to try telling the story through the nightgown’s viewpoint, and it seemed to work. Yes, my mom talked about Australia all the time, and she had lots of old family photos. Aussie relatives had come to visit over the years, so I heard their stories too. My mother really didn’t keep many things from her past, but the nightgown was always just sort of there in a box, and then somehow I ended up with it. As I grew into young adulthood, I started appreciating the loyalty and bravery it took for my mother to sail across the world to marry someone she couldn’t have known all that well. I felt compelled to write about that, and the nightgown’s journey seemed like one way to do it.

GCB: I have always been drawn to looking into lit windows of houses as I pass by, where strangers live and families gather. Your poem, “Road Stories,” grabbed me, and I will read this one often. What prompted this poem?
KPH: I started keeping a list of road names that were funny or intriguing. I often wonder about how a road got its name, but like you, I also wonder about people inside, especially when it’s dark and the lights are on. So, I don’t know how, but the poem started emerging and then traveling to different places (which seemed appropriate for a “road” poem), ending up with Dorothy in Kansas!

GCB: Although it is unusual for a poet to submit the same manuscript more than once to the same publisher, you sent this one to Terrapin Books a second time after it was first rejected a year or so before. Why did you think it would be accepted the second time around?
KPH: Well, I had no idea about my chances of acceptance the second time, but because the editor had given me constructive feedback on the first submission, I thought she cared enough about my work to take a second look. So I emailed her, saying I’d made revisions based on her input (mostly about the order of poems) and asking whether she’d like to see it again. And she said yes! The moral of the story is: Pay attention when editors (of journals or books) take the time to give you feedback on a submission or otherwise give you encouragement, and don’t be afraid to resubmit.

GCB: You have been quite successful publishing your poetry in journals and reviews. Your first poetry book was well received. What advice can you give to poets who want to see their books published by a reputable press? Is there a special tip you can offer a poet to make their work acceptable?
KPH: I did what my mentor, the poet Nancy Simpson, suggested: Get your poems published in journals first. Usually, that means a lot of work perfecting your poems, hopefully by attending workshops or critique groups, and then submitting to lots of journals. My acceptance rate ranges from 6%-13%, so that means I submitted many poems over several years to get into the publications I’ve been in so far. Duotrope, the submission tracker I use and recommend, says my ratio is “higher than the average for members who have submitted to the same places.” For the last two years, I made it a point to only submit to journals who take less than 5% of the poems they receive. While my ratio went down, my credentials went up because I got into some top journals.
You have to get used to rejection. My friend, the poet Maren Mitchell, helped me to see it as almost a game. When she gets rejected, she says, “Yippee! Time to do more submissions!”
In the submission guidelines for chapbooks or full-length manuscripts, publishers will usually require that a certain number of the poems have previously appeared in reputable publications.
GCB: You attended the AWP Conference in Tampa, Florida. Please tell us about that experience. What were the highlights of the conference for you?
KPH: AWP is huge—10,000 writers—so it’s better if you go with someone, which I did. I loved hearing David Kirby, Mark Doyy, Natalie Shapero, and others read their poems, and I met poets and editors that I had only known online. I was honored that the editor of Lascaux Review, Stephen Parrish who lives in Germany, came to my book signing and bought a book. I will say, though, that I prefer to attend workshops led by an accomplished poet where you revise and edit your work for a week or so. I loved the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, San Miquel (Mexico) Poetry Workshop, and the Sarah Lawrence Summer Seminar, and highly recommend them for improving your work and making connections with other writers. 
GCB: You teach writing and host writing events. Why do you think poets should take classes and participate in literary events?
KPH: Writing can be a lonely pursuit. Classes and critique groups are invaluable for improving your work and getting inspired to create more. By attending readings, you learn other writers’ work (and hearing it is very special), and you support writers who are as passionate about the craft as you are. Networking events are good for your poetry “career” and for making friends who share a common interest. I love my poet friends. I am a better person and poet because of my connections with other poets. My critique group and the North Carolina Writers’ Network have been an invaluable support system. Here’s an article I wrote about starting and running a critique group. https://trishhopkinson.com/2018/04/29/6-workshop-critique-tips-guest-blog-post-by-karen-paul-holmes/
GCB: Thank you, Karen, for answering these questions.


About the interviewer: Glenda Council Beall is a poet, blogger, memoirist and writing teacher. She’s the author of a poetry book, Now Might as Well be Then (Finishing Line Press, 2009) and a family history, Profiles and Pedigrees, Thomas Charles Council and His Descendants (Genealogy Publishing Co. 1998). Her poems, essays, and short stories have appeared in Reunions Magazine, Main Street Rag, Appalachian Heritage, Journal of Kentucky Studies, Your Daily Poem, Wild Goose Poetry Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology: North Carolina, and many other places. Her poems have won awards in the James Still Poetry Contest and the Clay County NC Poetry Contest. Beall is the Program Coordinator for the western region of the North Carolina Writers’ Network and has taught memoir at John C. Campbell Folk School, Tri-County Community College, and Writers Circle around the Table.  http://www.glendacouncilbeall.com/

About the poet: Karen Paul Holmes has two full-length poetry collections, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) and Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014). She was chosen as a Best Emerging Poet in 2016 by Stay Thirsty Media. Publications include Prairie Schooner, Valparaiso Review, Tar River Poetry, diode, Poet Lore, and other journals and anthologies. Holmes hosts The Side Door Poets in Atlanta and Writers’ Night Out in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She’s a freelance business writer and teaches creative writing workshops. http://KarenPaulHolmes.com



Tuesday, May 15, 2018

CWTPW on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, will feature writers Estelle Darrow Rice and Glenda Council Beall; event to be held at the Moss Memorial Library, Hayesville, NC


Coffee with the Poets and Writers will meet Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 10:30 AM, at the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, NC. Estelle Rice and Glenda Beall will be featured this month.



ESTELLE DARROW RICE is a retired mental health counselor who lives in Marble, NC. She is a native of Charlotte and many of her stories center on her life there and in the mountains of western NC where she and her late husband, Nevin, lived the past twenty years. She is author of Quiet Times, an inspirational poetry chapbook and has published poems and stories in numerous journals and anthologies. She taught writing classes for NCWN-West and at Glenda Beall’s studio, Writers Circle around the Table.


 
GLENDA COUNCIL BEALL: In 1998, Glenda Beall published a family history book, Profiles and Pedigrees, Thomas C. Council and His Descendants based on the lives of her grandfather and his ten children. Her poetry chapbook, Now Might as Well be Then was published in 2009 by Finishing Line Press.

She has been writing and publishing poetry, memoir and short stories since 1996 when she moved to Clay County, NC. She teaches writing at her studio as well as the Institute of Continuing Learning in Young Harris, GA and Tri-County Community College in Murphy, NC.

Her website is: www.glendacouncilbeall.com.


Estelle and Glenda will be reading from their forthcoming book, Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins, which will be published this summer. Both writers are animal lovers and decided to collaborate and co-write a collection of poems and stories about the pets they have loved and also other non-human species including birds and fish.


The public is invited to attend Coffee with the Poets and Writers and to take part in Open Mic. Because of time constraints, readers are asked to read no more than two poems or a prose piece of about 1500 words.


This event is sponsored by the North Carolina Writers’ Network West, a program of the state literary organization, North Carolina Writers’ Network.


Contact Glenda Beall, 828-389-4441 or glendabeall@msn.com for more information.





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


Friday, January 26, 2018

NCWN-West's Program Coordinator, Glenda Council Beall to teach writing classes this spring at Tri-County Community College and Young Harris College's Institute for Continuing Learning


Glenda Council Beall will teach writing classes this spring at two colleges.

Beall will teach on Monday evenings beginning in March 2018, from 5:30 – 8:00 PM, at Tri-County Community College in Murphy, NC. Her topic is Creative Writing. Beall writes: Perhaps you want to write about yourself or people you know, places you have been or family history. Perhaps you have always had stories wandering around in your brain and you want to write fiction. Poetry? Prose? Not sure? Your questions will be answered to help you discover your writing niche. This class is for new or aspiring writers. To register, please contact:
 

Lisa Long
Director of Community Outreach
(828) 835-4241
LLong@tricountycc.edu


Beall will also teach at Young Harris College's Institute for Continuing  Learning , beginning in May, the 3rd-24th, 2018, Thursdays from 3:15-5:15 PM.  Registration is made through ICL. More information will  be available as the class gets closer. Institute for Continuing Learning's link is:


http://icltest.org/index.html