Showing posts with label Kathryn Stripling Byer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kathryn Stripling Byer. Show all posts

Saturday, April 13, 2019

April is Poetry Month and We Celebrate at Moss Memorial Library

We will celebrate in Hayesville, NC at the Moss Memorial Library with award-winning poet, Brenda Kay Ledford reading from her new book, Red Plank House.

Brenda Kay Ledford
 A seventh-generational native of Clay County, Ledford grew up in a red-plank house eating apple butter, wearing homemade clothes, playing hopscotch, and singing shape-note music in country churches. Later she took piano lessons and played hymns for worship services.

Ledford was an honor graduate of Hayesville High School.  She rode a bus over the winding dirt roads.  It was a long route and she observed the mountains changing colors with seasons.  That’s when she grew to appreciate the beauty of our region.

Her favorite teachers were Leslie Carter, media specialist, and Josephine Thurman, senior-year English instructor.  Both educators instilled within Ledford the magic of books.

After Ledford was graduated from HHS, she worked as a clerk-typist with the FBI in Washington, DC.  It was cultural shock.  Ledford returned to her beloved roots in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
She worked as a secretary at Hinton Rural Life Center.  She also taught Sunday school and directed Bible School.  Ledford loved children and wanted to become an educator. She earned a MA in Early Childhood Education from Western Carolina University and taught the fourth grade at Murphy Elementary School.

While she was teaching, Ledford’s father got Hodgkin’s disease.  She obtained an emergency medical technician certification to help care for him.  She worked in the emergency room at Towns County Hospital part-time and with the Clay County EMS.

 Ledford also took a Creative Writing class at Tri-County Community College under Nancy Simpson to renew her teacher’s license.  Nancy was her mentor and encouraged Ledford to submit her work for publication.  Her poetry has appeared in Pembroke Magazine, Asheville Poetry Review, Our State, Angels on Earth, Chicken Soup for the Soul, 39 Old Mountain Press anthologies, and many other journals. Ledford’s latest poetry book, Red Plank House, was released by Kelsay Books, available at

Ledford is presently working on a collection of poetry for children.  Many poems are about her great-niece, Reagan Blanche.  Ledford’s favorite pastime is reading to her little niece and viewing the world through the joyful eyes of kids.

Each month Coffee with the Poets and Writers meets at the library on the third Wednesday of the month, 10:30 AM. We feature a member of NCWN-West, sponsoring organization, and we hold Open Mic to allow our guests to read an original poem or two.

This month we will celebrate two poets who were special to us in this region, the late Nancy Simpson and Kathryn Stripling Byer. Everyone is invited to bring a poem by one of them to read at open mic along with an original poem.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Do You Know about Marsha White Warren? What does she mean to NCWN-West?

We are kept up to date on the literary world by North Carolina Writers' Network. Did you know about the NC Literary Hall of Fame? New inductees this year will include Marsha White Warren who was Executive Director of NCWN in 1987 – 1996. She is responsible for our program, NCWN-West.

This is from Nancy Simpson’s history of NCWN-West:

When NCWN-West Began
During 1990, NCWN Executive Director Marsha Warren mailed a survey to NCWN members living here in the mountains. At the same time, then NC Arts Council Literature Director in Raleigh, Debbie McGill, also mailed a different survey to writers. Both organizations seemed to want to know about the mountain writers. They asked questions about what we needed. Included was a place for comments. The results of both surveys moved these leaders to reach out and help writers in the mountains.

In 1991, I applied for and received an Artist Fellowship in Poetry at NCAC. Soon after I got a call from NCAC Literary Director Debbie McGill congratulating me and asking me to come have dinner with her in Sylva (a two and a half hour drive for me at the time.) I immediately said, “Yes.”

A few days later, I received a formal letter on NCAC stationery signed by Kathryn Stripling Byer. That letter was sent to all writers in the area, asking us to come to a meeting on the same evening that I was invited to have dinner with Debbie Mc Gill. I rode over the mountains with Bettie Sellers of Young Harris, Georgia (she would become Poet Laureate of Georgia) who had also received a letter.

At dinner before the meeting, Debbie McGill asked me to help form a writing group in the mountains west of Asheville. I said I would. That evening in Jackson County, Rita Rudd, a writer who lived there, volunteered to get organized in Jackson County. I took a copy of the membership list of NCWN and NCAC members living in Clay County (Hayesville), in Cherokee County (Murphy), and in Macon County (Franklin). I set up a meeting for NCWN members in those three counties. We met in Murphy. …

I will always be grateful to Marsha Warren, who worked with dedication to get NCWN West organized. She is the one who named the counties and areas to be served as NCWN West: Cherokee County, Clay County, Graham County, Haywood County, Jackson County, Macon County, Swain County, Transylvania County, and adjacent counties in Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina. During my service as Program Coordinator, I was asked to include Qualla Boundary.”  Read more here.

SOUTHERN PINES—On Sunday, October 7, at 2:00 pm at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in Southern Pines, the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame will welcome five new inductees.
James W. Clark, Jr., Randall Kenan, Jill McCorkle, Penelope Niven, and Marsha White Warren will join the sixty inductees currently enshrined.

Marsha Warren 
Marsha White Warren was an elementary school teacher, poet, and children’s book author when she became Executive Director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network in 1987, only two years after its founding. She would serve in that role until 1996. During those years she helped Sam Ragan develop and open the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, as well as serving on numerous state and national literary boards and as a consultant to literary centers in Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Idaho. In 1991, she also became director of the Paul Green Foundation and is still with the Foundation after twenty-seven years. In that position, she has overseen $575,000 in grants to nonprofits that support the arts and human rights. Her awards include the John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities, R. Hunt Parker Memorial Award for Lifetime Contributions to Literature, Sam Ragan Award for Contributions to the Fine Arts, and an Honorary Doctor of Letters from St. Andrews College. She lives in Chapel Hill.

Like Nancy Simpson, I am grateful to Marsha White Warren for creating NCWN-West. I moved to NC in 1995, just as our program was taking off and building community for writers here in the mountains. 
Thanks to Nancy, Kay Byer and to Marsha Warren, we are a thriving organization, the western arm of NCWN, but many, many writers and poets don’t know how we began. Now you do. 

Congratulations to Marsha Warren, 2018 NC Hall of Fame Inductee.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Were you there when Kathryn Byer held a party for NCWN West writers?

Linda Smith, Michelle Keller, Kathryn Byer at City Lights Books in Sylva, NC
We gathered at City Lights Books August 8, 2010 to launch Echoes Across the Blue Ridge. Kathryn Byer hosted the gathering of more than 100 writers and poets, most of whom were published in this anthology of mountain writers, edited by Nancy Simpson.

See many more photos and read more about this special time here.

We are honoring the late NC poet laureate, Kathryn Stripling Byer, on Sunday, October 1, 2017 at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva, NC. 
We will gather at 2:00 p.m. to hear her poems, to hear about her achievements, her caring and compassion for others, especially poets she helped on their way to becoming published. 
A reception will follow, a time to talk with others who knew and loved Kay.
Come and be with us.

Monday, August 14, 2017

NCWN & NCWN-West Plan Tribute to Kathryn Stripling Byer on October 1, 2017, at the Jackson Co. Public Library, Sylva, NC

Please join North Carolina Writers' Network-West, and the North Carolina Writers' Network in a tribute recognizing the poetry, achievements and legacy of Kathryn Stripling Byer, the first woman poet laureate for North Carolina.


Sunday, October 1, 2017, 2:00 PM


Jackson County Public Library, Community Room, Sylva, NC


Ed Southern, Executive Director NC Writers' Network
Kevin Watson, Publisher, Press 53
Susan Lefler, published poet and friend
Catherine Carter, poet, Jackson County Rep for NCWN-West
Others to be announced, later

We will hear Kathryn read a poem, and hear one of her poems put to music. 

A reception is planned after the program. 


Please contact Glenda C. Beall, NCWN-West Program Coordinator, for more information.

Glenda Council Beall, 828-389-4441