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

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Poetry and Song-writing Lyric Contest for Clay County Schools, NC, renamed Simpson Beck Poetryand Song-writing Lyrics Contest

Nancy Simpson
Reba Beck
The Clay County Historical and Arts Council and the North Carolina Writers’ Network-West, in an effort to promote the arts in our community, are again co-sponsoring a poetry writing and a song-writing lyric contest for Hayesville High and Middle Schools this month. The writing contest has been renamed the Simpson Beck Poetry and Song-writing Lyrics Contest, in honor of its founders Nancy Simpson and Reba Beck. 
 

The winners will be announced Monday, April 16, 2018, and the award ceremony for them will take place on Monday, April 23, 2018, at 7:00 PM at the Hayesville High School Lecture Hall. The public is invited to attend this event, and their will be refreshments and cookies.


The poetry judge for the contests is Rosemary Rhodes Royston. She is the author of the book, Splitting the Soil, a widely published poet, a representative of the North Carolina Writers’ Network-West, and a professor of English at Young Harris College.

Songwriting Lyric judges include Rob Tiger, local songwriter and singers, Brian Kruger, and Wyatt Espalin.





For more information, please contact Joan Ellen Gage, at: iamjellen1953@gmail.com

Sunday, February 18, 2018

We say Goodbye to a Founder of NCWN-West, Nancy Simpson

It is with deep sadness that I write to you of the passing of Nancy Simpson. Nancy was an important member of the writing community, a practicing poet, a teacher, and a friend.
 

She was an active member of the North Carolina Writers' Network since its inception in 1985 and served on the Executive Board. In 1991 she co-founded the North Carolina Writers' Network-West, a program to serve writers in the remote areas of the North Carolina mountains. She served as program coordinator for 10 years.

A long time English educator and poet, Nancy Simpson spent 26 years teaching in the exceptional children's programs in North Carolina. Retiring in 2001, she simultaneously spent 14 years as an instructor of creative writing at the Tri-County Community College from 1989 to 2003, in Murphy, NC.

She taught poetry part-time at the Institute for Continued Learning at Young Harris College, creative writing in the middle school grades and English composition, and American Literature.

For 15 years Simpson was employed part-time as a Resident Writer at John C. Campbell Folk School where her job was to schedule writing classes and to teach Poetry and Historical Novel.

Her books include: Across Water, Night Student, and Living Above the Frost Line, New and Selected Poems. Ms. Simpson and Shirley Uphouse co-edited Lights in the Mountains: Stories, Essays and Poems by Writers Living in and Inspired by the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Simpson also served as editor of Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, an anthology released in 2010. Simpson authored numerous poems published in literary publications. Some were reprinted in anthologies such as The Poet's Guide to the Birds, Word and Wisdom – 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry. Also, 7 of her poems were reprinted in a textbook of Appalachian poets.


Here is a link to Nancy's obituary pagehttp://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Nancy-Brantley&lc=4946&pid=188221106&mid=7765502

Nancy had requested that donations be made to NCWN-West, in lieu of flowers. If you are interested in donating in her name, please send a check made out to: NCWN-West, with donation in memory Nancy Simpson in the subject line, and send it to:

Newton Smith, Treasurer
6875 Canada Road
Tuckaseegee, NC 28783

The NCWN-West will hold a memorial for Nancy sometime in the spring of 2018.
Simpson blogged at : http://nancysimpson.blogspot.com/.

Here is a video link of Nancy reading two of her poems: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ikS2s5Mq9g

Joan Ellen Gage
Admin NCWN-West

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Poet Nancy Simpson (Brantley) Presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award by Marquis Who’s Who

HAYESVILLE, NC, January 04, 2018 — Marquis Who's Who, the world's premier publisher of biographical profiles, is proud to present Nancy Simpson Brantley with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award.

She celebrates many years' experience in her field and has been noted for achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes she has accrued in her field. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.

Nancy Simpson Brantley has held a BS in Education from Western Carolina University since 1978, and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Warren Wilson College since 1983. A recipient of the North Carolina Arts Fellowship from 1991 to 1992, she 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. She was married for 20 years to E.W. Brantley, Jr. and she is the proud mother of three sons.

A long time English educator and poet, Nancy Simpson Brantley formerly spent 26 years teaching in the exceptional children's programs in the Clay County School District in North Carolina. Retiring in 2001, she simultaneously spent 14 years as an instructor of creative writing at the Tri-County Community College from 1989 to 2003, in Murphy, NC. Balancing two significant careers, she was able to teach what she loved. She taught poetry part-time at the Institute for Continued Learning at Young Harris College, a liberal arts school in northeast Georgia. She also taught creative writing in the middle school grades and taught English composition and American Literature at Hayesville High School. For 15 years she was employed part-time as a Resident Writer at John C. Campbell Folk School where her job was to schedule all the writing classes. She also taught Poetry and Historical Novel. She was also a guest poet at Western Carolina University, Brevard College, East Tennessee State University, and State University of New York. She was active within the North Carolina Arts Council in Clay County, NC. In 1991, she co-founded An Evening of Art and Poetry with Reba Beck. Special judges were brought in and winners were awarded prize money.

She was an active member of the North Carolina Writers' Network since its inception in 1985 and served on the Executive Board. In 1991 she co-founded the North Carolina Writers' Network West, a program to serve writers in the remote areas of the North Carolina mountains. She served as program coordinator for 10 years.

All of Nancy Simpson Brantley's writing has been published under her given name Nancy Simpson. Across Water, State Street Press, Judith Kitchens publisher was published in 1983. Night Student, State Street Press, was published in 1985. Nancy Simpson authored the book Living Above the Frost Line, New and Selected Poems, chosen by Kathryn Stripling Byer for the first collection in the first book in the Poet Laureate Series, Carolina Wren Press, Durham, NC in 2010. Ms. Simpson and Shirley Uphouse co-edited Lights in the Mountains: Stories, Essays and Poems by Writers Living in and Inspired by the Southern Appalachian Mountains, Winding Path Publishing, 2010 with an introduction by Fred Chappell in 2003. Ms. Simpson also served as editor of Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, an anthology released in 2010 with an introduction by Robert Morgan.
She authored numerous poems which have been included in literary publications such as the Prairie Schooner, Georgia Review, and the Southern Poetry Review. Some were reprinted upon request in anthologies such as The Poet's Guide to the Birds edited by Ted Kooser, Word and Wisdom – 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry, and also 7 poems were reprinted in a textbook of Appalachian poets published by McFarland Press, and Don't Leave Hungry – Southern Poetry Review's 50th Anniversary issue.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions to her profession and the Marquis Who's Who community, Nancy Simpson Brantley has been featured on the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement website. Please visit www.ltachievers.com for more information about this honor.
About Marquis Who's Who :

http://nbherard.com/business/nancy-simpson-brantley-presented-with-the-albert-nelson-marquis-lifetime-achievement-award-by-marquis-whos-who/48594


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Three poets from NCWN-West featured in ETSU's Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine

Three poets from North Carolina Writers' Network West have poems featured in East Tennessee State University's Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine. The issue is titled "The Future of Appalachia", Vol. 32, No. 2.  Here is the link for the publication: http://www.etsu.edu/cas/cass/nowandthen/.


Nancy Simpson's poem "Accounting" appears from her book, Living Above the Frost Line: New and Selected Poems, Carolina Wren Press.Simpson is the author of three poetry collections: Across Water, Night Student and Living Above the Frost Line, New and Selected Poems published at Carolina Wren Press. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a B.S. in Education from Western Carolina University. She received a N.C. Arts Fellowship and co-founded NC Writers' Network-West, a non profit professional writing organization serving writers living in the remote mountains west of Asheville. For more than thirty years she has been known as “beloved teacher” to thousands of young writers.


Simpson’s poems have been published in The Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, Seneca Review, New Virginia Review, Prairie Schooner and in other literary magazines. Her poem, “Night Student” was reprinted in the anthology Word and Wisdom, 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry and in Literary Trails of North Carolina. Seven of her poems are featured in Southern Appalachian Poetry, a textbook anthology published at McFarland Press. The Southern Poetry Review, Armstrong College in Savannah, Georgia included one of her poems in their 50th Anniversary issue, Don't Leave Hungry and a new poem in their recent issue featuring Georgia poets. Her poem “Carolina Bluebirds” was included in The Poets Guide to Birds, an anthology edited by Judith Kitchen and Ted Kooser, and her poem “Pink Pantsuit” was featured recently in Ted Kooser’s widely read “American Life in Poetry” newspaper column.



Kathryn Stripling Byers' poem "Last Light" is included from the book Descent, LSU press. Byer was raised on a farm in Southwest Georgia, where the material for much of her first poetry originated. She graduated from Wesleyan College, Macon, Georgia, with a degree in English literature, and afterward, received her MFA degree from UNC-Greensboro, where she studied with Fred Chappell and Robert Watson, as well as forming enduring friendships with James Applewhite and Gibbons Ruark. After graduation she worked at Western Carolina University, becoming Poet-in-Residence in 1990.


Her poetry, prose, and fiction have appeared widely, including Hudson Review, Poetry, The Atlantic, Georgia Review, Shenandoah, and Southern Poetry Review. Often anthologized, her work has also been featured online, where she maintains the blogs "Here, Where I Am," and "The Mountain Woman." Her body of work was discussed along with that of Charles Wright, Robert Morgan, Fred Chappell, Jeff Daniel Marion, and Jim Wayne Miller in Six Poets from the Mountain South, by John Lang, published by LSU Press. Her first book of poetry, The Girl in the Midst of the Harvest, was published in the AWP Award Series in 1986, followed by the Lamont (now Laughlin) prize-winning Wildwood Flower, from LSU Press. Her subsequent collections have been published in the LSU Press Poetry Series, receiving various awards, including the Hanes Poetry Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Poetry Award, and the Roanoke-Chowan Award.

Byers served for five years as North Carolina's first woman poet laureate. She lives in the mountains of western North Carolina with her husband and three dogs and is a Jackson County Representative for the North Carolina Writers’ Network-West.



Glenda Barrett's poem "The Minnie Shook Place" appears from her book When the Sap Rises, Finishing Line Press. Barrett, a native of Hiawassee, Georgia, is an artist, poet, and writer. Her work has been widely published yearly since her first writing class in 1997 and has appeared in: Woman's World, Farm & Ranch Living, Country Woman, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Journal of Kentucky Living, Nantahala Review, Rural Heritage, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Kaleidoscope Magazine and many more.

Her poetry chapbook, When the Sap Rises, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2008. She has completed two more books since that time, a full-length poetry book which is currently under review by a publisher and a book of Appalachian essays. Barrett worked many years in various healthcare system jobs and retired due to a form of Muscular Dystrophy.
 

Barrett is very grateful to be able to devote her time to the two things she loved as a child, painting and writing. She has two grown children and lives with her husband of forty-two years in the North Georgia mountains.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Nancy Simpson's poem "Lingering at the Edge," published in Kudzu Literary Magazine's 2016 publication, "Women in Appalachia"

Poet Nancy Simpson has had a poem published in Kudzu Literary Magazine's 2016 issue. The theme of this year's magazine was Women in Appalachia. Simpson's poem was Lingering at the Edge.

Nancy Simpson is the author of three poetry collections: Across Water, Night Student and Living Above the Frost Line, New and Selected Poems published at Carolina Wren Press. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a B.S. in Education from Western Carolina University. She received a N.C. Arts Fellowship and co founded NC Writers Network-West, a non profit, professional writing organization serving writers living in the remote mountains west of Asheville. For more than thirty years she has been known as “beloved teacher” to thousands of young writers.

Simpson’s poems have been published in The Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, Seneca Review, New Virginia Review, Prairie Schooner and in other literary magazines. Her poem, “Night Student” was reprinted in the anthology Word and Wisdom, 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry and in Literary Trails of North Carolina. Seven of her poems are featured in Southern Appalachian Poetry, a textbook anthology published at McFarland Press. The Southern Poetry Review, Armstrong College in Savannah, Georgia included one of her poems in their 50th Anniversary issue, Don't Leave Hungry and a new poem in their recent issue featuring Georgia poets. Her poem “Carolina Bluebirds” was included in The Poets Guide to Birds, an anthology edited by Judith Kitchen and Ted Kooser, and her poem “Pink Pantsuit” was featured recently in Ted Kooser’s widely read “American Life in Poetry” newspaper column.


http://hazard.kctcs.edu/en/Student_Life/Kudzu.aspx
https://kudzu.submittable.com/submit

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Video excerpts from April 20, 2016, NCWN-West's Coffee with the Poets and Writers, with Brenda Kay Ledford and Nancy Simpson

For those of you who missed Coffee with the Poets and Writers at Moss Memorial Library, in Hayesville, NC, on April 20, 2016, here are some video excerpts of Brenda Kay Ledford and Nancy Simpson.

Brenda Kay Ledford

Nancy Simpson

For other videos of this event, please go to our network's new YouTube channel at :  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu63wy0hyAFhgTPRo7by4og

Joan Ellen Gage, Admin of NCWN-West Blog

 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

NCWN-West's Coffee with the Poets and Writers to feature Brenda Kay Ledford and Nancy Simpson, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, at 10:00 AM at the Moss Memorial Library, Hayesville, NC

The North Carolina Writers' Network-West's Coffee with the Poets and Writers will feature poets Brenda Kay Ledford and Nancy Simpson, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, at 10:00 AM. The event will be held at the Moss Memorial Library, 26 Anderson Street, Hayesville, North Carolina, and is open to the public. As always, the readings will be followed by an open mic.


Brenda Kay Ledford is a seventh-generational native of Clay County, North Carolina. She was an honor graduate of Hayesville High School and earned her Master of Arts in Education from Western Carolina University. She studied Journalism at the University of Tennessee and was editor of "Tri-County Communicator" at Tri-County Community College. She holds a diploma of highest honors from Stratford Career Institute in Creative Writing.

Ledford's prose and poetry have appeared in many publications including: "Angels on Earth Magazine," "Our State Magazine," "Asheville Poetry Review," "Appalachian Heritage," and 30 anthologies printed by Old Mountain Press. Finishing Line Press published three award-winning chapbooks. Aldrich Press printed her poetry book, "Crepe Roses," that received the 2015 Paul Green Multimedia Award from North Carolina Society of Historians. She has received the Paul Green Award seven times for her literary works and collecting oral history. Ledford blogs at: http://blueridgepoet.blogspot.com.


Nancy Simpson is the author of three poetry collections: Across Water, Night Student and Living Above the Frost Line, New and Selected Poems published at Carolina Wren Press. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a B.S. in Education from Western Carolina University. She received a N.C. Arts Fellowship and co founded NC Writers Network-West, a non profit, professional writing organization serving writers living in the remote mountains west of Asheville. For more than thirty years she has been known as “beloved teacher” to thousands of young writers.

Simpson’s poems have been published in The Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, Seneca Review, New Virginia Review, Prairie Schooner and in other literary magazines. Her poem, “Night Student” was reprinted in the anthology Word and Wisdom, 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry and in Literary Trails of North Carolina. Seven of her poems are featured in Southern Appalachian Poetry, a textbook anthology published at McFarland Press. The Southern Poetry Review, Armstrong College in Savannah, Georgia included one of her poems in their 50th Anniversary issue, Don't Leave Hungry and a new poem in their recent issue featuring Georgia poets. Her poem “Carolina Bluebirds” was included in The Poets Guide to Birds, an anthology edited by Judith Kitchen and Ted Kooser, and her poem “Pink Pantsuit” was featured recently in Ted Kooser’s widely read “American Life in Poetry” newspaper column. Simpson blogs at: http://nancysimpson.blogspot.com/.

For more information, please contact Glenda C. Beall at 828-389-4441.



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New Pages Added to NCWN West Blog!

Hello readers!

Please make note of the new page links on the North Carolina Writers Network Blog.  Here is the quick link: http://netwestwriters.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_22.html.  

You will find a link for an article The Founding of NCWN West, written by Nancy Simpson, with the help of Glenda Beall.  Please take time to read this important history!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Coffee with the Poets April 8, 2015

Brenda Kay Ledford
Nancy Simpson


April is poetry month and there is no finer way to celebrate than attending Coffee with the Poets, a monthly event held at Joe’s Coffee Shop and Trading Post, 82 Main Street, Hayesville, NC. North Carolina Writers Network-West sponsors this event which meets at10:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 8, 2015.

Recently a visitor to our area said, "This should be on a list of things to do here!"

Two widely published local poets, members of NCWN West, Brenda Kay Ledford and Nancy Simpson, are featured on the program this month. Coffee with the Poets and Writers is open to the public at no charge. Bring a poem or short prose, 1000 words or less, and read at Open Mic. Joe’s Coffee shop serves fine coffees and teas, and snacks can be purchased.

Brenda Kay Ledford is a well-known poet and native of Clay County, NC. She holds a Master of Arts in Education from Western Carolina University. She has done post-graduate work in Appalachian Studies, and the theme of most of her writing is her Appalachian heritage.

Brenda received the Paul Green Multimedia Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians seven times for her books, her collections of oral history, and her blog Historical Hayesville. Her work has appeared in Our State, Carolina Country Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Appalachian Heritage, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Journal of Kentucky Studies, Asheville Poetry Review, Country Extra Magazine, Blue Ridge Parkway Silver Anniversary Edition Celebration, and many other journals.

Finishing Line Press published Brenda’s poetry books: Shewbird Mountain, Sacred Fire, and Beckoning. She co-authored Simplicity with Blanche L. Ledford.  She is also an outstanding photographer as you can see on her blog, Blue Ridge Poet.

Nancy Simpson lives in Hayesville, NC. Through 2010 she served as Resident Writer at the John C. Campbell Folk School. She taught many of the poets and writers in this area in her classes there and at Tri-County Community College. She also taught poetry for ICL at Young Harris College.

Nancy is the author of three poetry collections: Across Water, Night Student, and most recently Living Above the Frost Line, New and Selected Poems (Carolina Wren Press, 2010). She also edited Echoes Across the Blue Ridge (anthology 2010). She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a BS in education from Western Carolina University. She received a NC Arts Fellowship and co-founded NC Writers Network-West.

Simpson’s poems have been published in The Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, Seneca Review, New Virginia Review, Prairie Schooner and others. Her poems have been included in anthologies, Word and Wisdom, 100 Years of N.C. Poetry and Literary Trails of N.C. (2008). Her poems have also been featured in Southern Appalachian Poetry, a textbook anthology published at McFarland Press.
Visit her blog, Living Above the Frost Line to learn more about her.  

Contact NCWN West Representative, Glenda Beall, at 828-389-4441 or glendabeall@msn.com  for information.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Interview from 2008 with Nancy Simpson, co-founder of NCWN West and former Resident Writer for JCCFS


Recently, I had the opportunity to interview poet, Nancy Simpson, former Program Coordinator for the North Carolina Writers' Network West. Although I’ve known Nancy for thirteen years and always admired her, I had some questions about her writing and NCWN West. As you will see, her answers are most informative as well as candid.

GB: Nancy, you have been a practicing poet for thirty years. What inspired you to be a poet?

NS: As it happened, the 
N.C. Arts Council in Raleigh sent some poets to read at the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville. I remember there was also a local poet on the program, Janice Townley Moore. Before that night I had only written rhyming poems. When I heard those poets read free verse poems, it changed my life forever. Something clicked. I remember thinking, Oh. That is what I have heard in my head all these years. I came to believe that poetry is a slanted way of seeing the world. When those quirky thoughts came, I started writing them down. That is how it began. I started studying free verse poetry immediately. I took classes with Dr. Steve Harvey, and I consider him my beloved teacher and mentor. I traveled far and wide to every writing workshop I could find. I went to hear every poet I could. I bought and listened to the great poets on tape. I could not get enough. Now, after all these years, I still can't get enough. Practicing, studying, and teaching poetry is my life.

GB: You earned your MFA at Warren Wilson College. Was that before you became Program Coordinator for NCWN West?

NS: I earned my M.F.A. in Writing in 1983. I began working with Marsha Warren, then Executive Director of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, to establish N.C.W.N. West in 1991.

GB: Early in your writing career you published with the best journals such as the Georgia Review and Prairie Schooner. How often has the Georgia Review chosen your poems, and what other fine journals published your work?

NS: I had three poems in The Georgia Review when Stan Lindberg was editor. I had five Poems in Prairie Schooner. Other poems were published in four editions of Southern Poetry Review, and recently SPR chose to reprint "Grass" in their upcoming 50th Anniversary Issue. Some of my poems have been in Indiana Review, Florida Review, Seneca Review and New Virginia Review. I've also been pleased to have poems in Appalachian Journal, Appalachian Heritage and Journal of Kentucky Studies.

GB: I know several of your poems have been chosen for anthologies and reprinted in books.

NS: I had poems reprinted in four editions of Anthology of Magazine Verse, Writers Choice, and Word and Wisdom - 100 Years of N.C. Poetry. My poem "Night Student" has been published and reprinted, upon request, nine times. It was recently included in Literary Trails of N.C. Seven poems were reprinted in the new anthology of Appalachian Poetry from McFarland Press.A new poem, "Carolina Blue Birds" is included in the anthology, The Poet's Guide to the Birds, forthcoming in 2008 from Anhinga Press.

GB: You published Across Water, a poetry chapbook and a full length collection, Night Student. Tell how that came about.

NS: The editor and publisher of State Street Press, Judith Kitchen, asked me if she could choose some of my poems for a chapbook manuscript. I had just met her in the M.F.A. Program at Warren Wilson College. I didn't know she owned a press. She chose and arranged the poems and published Across Water.
Two years later Judith Kitchen asked to see my manuscript again. After reading it, she called and said she had the title -- Night Student--and that although State Street Press published only chapbooks, she intended to publish my full-length collection. I was fortunate. I was very happy. To me, it is amazing. As years passed, Judith Kitchen became a dear friend. The biggest honor is that she asked me to be her best woman at her marriage ceremony.

GB: You dedicated many years to the NCWN West and, as Program Coordinator, mentored writers here in the mountains. Many have gone on to publish their work. However you continued publishing your own poems in literary journals, and you edited Lights in the Mountains, the NCWN West anthology published in 2005. How did you find the time when you also held a full-time job as a public school teacher?

NS: True. I taught in Clay County public schools for 26 years. After I earned my MFA, I taught 11th grade English and I taught English Composition part time at Tri County College. Later I switched to Continuing Ed so I could teach creative writing. At the same time, I co- founded N.C. Writers Network West and took on the job of Program Coordinator. I then was asked to serve as Resident Writer at John C. Campbell Folk School. At one time I was teaching full time and had three paying part-time writing related jobs. At the same time, I kept writing poems. I kept submitting them and getting them published. I do not know how I did it. It was not hard. Writing consumed my life.

GB: In recent years you lost a sister and a son. How has your writing helped you deal with your grief?

NS: I believe practicing poetry is a way to learn how to live. Yes, writing helped me deal with death and grief. Losing my sister was hard because we were close and most of my life she lived near enough that we could talk every day. She prodded me to write a specific historical novel and, before her death, she handed over all of her research. Every day I look across the driveway at her empty house. At night, it seems darker on the mountain without lights in her house. I honor her best by writing the novel. Sometimes when I get stuck, I imagine her telling me where to find the answer on which page of her research. Sometimes I imagine her saying, “Only 127 pages! Get to work!”

The death of my son from Cancer last summer was the hardest thing I've ever had to face. I was with him through surgery which took place during Christmas week at Emory Hospital in Atlanta. I thought he soon would be coming home, but his progress stalled and he stayed in the hospital. His brothers, who live in Atlanta, promised to take good care of him. One was employed as a nurse at Emory and checked on him often. I talked with my son two or three times a day, but grief set in. I became depressed. I had two completed poetry manuscripts that were circulating among the poetry presses, but I did not think about that very much. One day I found myself shuffling the manuscript pages, shifting poems from one manuscript to another, changing page numbers, even changing the title of one of the manuscripts. When I told a good friend what I was doing she said, “Oh No. Don't do that.”
I know she was concerned that in my depressed state, I might ruin the manuscripts. I stopped and thought about it. I knew I was doing the right thing. Other than the life of my son, there was nothing that could keep my mind focused. There was nothing else that made me want to get out of bed in the morning. Your question is how has my writing helped me deal with grief? Practicing poetry at the most dreadful time sustained me. When my son came home to Hospice, I put my poems away. I did not need them because I had my son, and I had an important new job to learn - how to be his nurse.

GB: As Writer in Residence at the John C. Campbell Folk School, you are in contact with writers and teachers all over the United States. What do you look for in choosing faculty for the Writing Program at JCCFS?

NS: In the 
John C. Campbell Folk School Writing Program, I look for a writer who has book publications or is widely published in good magazines. Second, I want someone who has teaching credentials, who has taught writing before or has teacher training somewhere in their background. Third, and most important, the instructors who come to teach at JCCFS must fit into the non competitive environment. We have "no hierarchy and no lowerarchy." The best teachers can sit in a circle with their students and teach them well. Lectures go over like a lead balloon at the folk school. We now have a lovely set up with classes held in the living room of Orchard House and in the new writing studio which is attached to Orchard House. I will not say the teaching style we want is casual. No. A week at the folk school is the most intense kind of learning. But, it is not similar in any way to college classroom and never shall be. We only have 18 writing classes a year now and the schedule is filled through 2009. Still, I am always on the look out for good writing instructors.

GB: You have two new poetry manuscripts finished. Give us the names of each and tell us the themes of these works. Have any of the poems in these manuscripts already been published?

NS: One is LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE. The other is INTO THE HEART OF THE GLACIER.The poems were written over many years. I took a NCWN Advanced Poetry Class with Kathryn Stripling Byer. What she read was one manuscript with 150 poems. Kay said it should be two different manuscripts, and she advised where to break them apart. I will always appreciate her direction. LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE, which was first titled Accounting, is written in the voice of a woman who lives alone on a remote mountain in Appalachia. Her concerns focus on specific values: Worth of Persons, Family and Concern for our planet. Nineteen of the poems have been published.INTO THE HEART OF THE GLACIER is also written with the same southern voice of a woman living alone on a mountain. Glacier is a love story, the ancient Eurydice story turned backward and set in our time. Twenty-two of the poems have been published.

GB: On June 7, you will teach your first poetry workshop for NCWN West. You have taught at Tri-County Community College, John C. Campbell Folk School, and the Institute of Continuing Learning at Young Harris College. How did it happen that you never taught a class for NCWN West?

NS: Thanks for inviting me. I can hardly wait to teach this Netwest Saturday Poetry workshop on June 7. To answer the question, I was the Program Coordinator and my main job was to help the representatives in each county get the kind of writing programs they wanted. At that time 
NCWN sponsored four Saturday workshops a year in the Netwest region. I was eager to teach, but it would not have been ethical to do so at the time I was on the NCWN payroll. I was busy editing and producing an anthology. Each county had character and ideas of its own. I worked hard at setting up critique groups, if that was what they wanted, or Saturday writing workshops. I was busy keeping two Netwest representatives in each county. It would not have been appropriate for me to teach a Netwest workshop.

I am happy to say that over the years, NCWN invited me to be on their Fall Conference program three different times. NC Women Writers invited me twice to be on their program; once when held in Asheville, and later when held in Greensboro. You can see I stayed busy, but now, yes now, I can say I am a happy woman to be invited to teach a Saturday Poetry Workshop for NCWN West.

GB: .What do you expect students to take away from this coming class, Advance Your Poetry?

NS: ADVANCE YOUR POETRY is an all day workshop for practicing free verse poets. My goal is to focus on their poetry and their poetry writing process. We will talk about how they started writing poetry, where they are now in their writing career and what is their next step, and the next, and the next. I expect the students to take away direction and a folder marked in bold letters: MY POETRY CHAPBOOK COLLECTION.

GB: Nancy, I’m delighted you took the time to answer my questions so our visitors on
http://www.netwestwriters.blogspot.com/ can know more about you and about NCWN West.

NS: Glenda, thank you for asking.


Interview by Glenda Council Beall


Sunday, February 1, 2015

SEPTEMBER 20, 2008 - After a Week of Hearing the Word by Nancy Simpson

Recently I sent out an email to  members with two links for early posts of this blog, but I find now that those links to  many of the post in 2007, 2008 do not work. You can go to Archives and find most of the early posts however.
Nancy Simpson, co-founder of NCWN West, our mountain writers organization, in the early 1990s, sent me this early post that portrays the activity and enthusiasm we had in 2008.
Saturday, September 20, 2008


AFTER A WEEK OF HEARING THE WORD

Michael Beadle and Glenda Beall

Jo Carolyn Beebe


Bill Queen and Nancy Simpson


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 

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. 

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