Showing posts with label Nancy Simpson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nancy Simpson. 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



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.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Photo of Nancy Simpson Gifted to the Moss Memorial Library, Hayesville, NC



Glenda Council Beall and Mary Fonda

On Tuesday, August 7, 2018, the Moss Memorial Library received a photo of late poet, Nancy Simpson Brantley, given from the North Carolina Writers’ Network (NCWN), in Simpson Brantley’s, honor for her many achievements, most of which were in Western NC. Librarian Mary Fonda received the photo from North Carolina Writers’ Network-West’s (NCWN-West) Program Director, Glenda Council Beall. Simpson Brantley's work was written under her maiden name, Nancy Simpson.

Nancy Simpson Brantley was a poet, teacher, and mother of three children. She taught in Clay County Schools for 28 years, in the Exceptional Children’s programs. She received a Master’s in Fine Arts from Warren Wilson College, and a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Western Carolina University. 

A member of the NCWN, Simpson Brantley served on its executive board, and in 1991 co-founded the NCWN-West, a program of NCWN, to serve writers in the remote NC mountains. She was NCWN-West’s Program Director for over 21 years.
She taught writing at Tri-County Community College, Murphy, NC, The Institute for Continuing Learning at Young Harris College, Georgia, at John C. Campbell Folk School (JCCFS), Brasstown, NC, and was Resident Artist for Writing at JCCFS 1998-2010. 

Simpson Brantley’s poems were widely published in Literary Journals, and she had three published books: Living Above The Frostline, New and Selected Poems, Night Student, and Across Water. Simpson Brantley won first place for her poem, “Night Student,” at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta, GA, in 1978, received the NC Arts Council Writing Fellowship for Poetry in 1991, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from Tri-County Community College in 1998. She was named a SIBA Poetry Award Finalist in 2011. Simpson Brantley co-edited Lights in the Mountains and edited Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, both anthologies with Western NC writers. Simpson Brantley has been included in several editions of Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Education, Who's Who in the South and Southwest, and Who's Who of American Women. In 2018, she was given the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquis Who’s Who.

Nancy Simpson Brantley passed away on February 17, 2018. A memorial in her honor was held at the John C. Campbell Folk School on May 5, 2018. You can visit her blog at: http://nancysimpson.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Video Links for Nancy Simpson Celebration, held May 5, 2018, at the John C. Campbell Folk School

Left to right, Glenda Beall, Jeremy Brantley, Lynn Rutherford, Yan Yang Brantley, and Janice Moore
The Nancy Simpson Celebration was a success. Many noted authors spoke and read, most from Simpson's books. Some read poems they had written for Nancy.

Readers included:


Shelby Stephenson, Poet Laureate of NC, Steve Harvey, Debbie McGill, Janice Moore, Brenda Kay Ledford, Karen Paul Holmes, Mary Ricketson, Rosemary Rhodes Royston,Glenda Barrett, Joan Ellen Gage, and Glenda Council Beall.

Glenda Council Beall led the Celebration as Emcee. Here are video links from the Celebration, (taken by Yan Yang Brantley), note, they are not in order:

Video #1: Glenda Beall
Video #6: Rosemary R. Royston
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNVqLYQGmzc
Video #10: Shelby Stephenson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ8_GYXPKKw

Photos will follow at a later date.