About Me

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Nancy Simpson's LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE, New and Selected Poems was published by Carolina Wren Press (N.C. Laureate Series, 2010.) She is the author of ACROSS WATER and NIGHT STUDENT, State Street Press, still available on WWW at Alibris and Books Again. Her poems have been published in Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review and other literary magazines. "Carolina Bluebirds" was published in THE POETS GUIDE TO THE BIRDS, Anhinga Press). "Grass" was reprinted in the 50th Anniversary Issue of Southern Poetry Review: DON'T LEAVE HUNGRY ( U.of Arkansas Press.) Seven poems were reprinted in the textbook, SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN POETRY,(McFarland.) Two poems were published in SOLO CAFE, Two more poems were published in SOLO NOVO."In the Nantahala Gorge" was published in Pisgah Review. "Studying Winter" was reprinted in Pirene's Fountain Anthology and "The Collection" in Collecting Life Anthology. Most recently, Southern Poetry Review Edited by James Smith, published "Our Great Depression," and The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. VII: NORTH CAROLINA,Edited by William Wright, reprinted "Leaving in the Dead of Winter."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Poet Looks Up, Three Poems by Bettie M. Sellers

Have you read Wild Ginger, Poems by Bettie M. Sellers?

During the month of March, we have celebrated the life, poetry, and accomplishment of former Georgia Poet Laureate Bettie M. Sellers. Here, at the end, I acknowledge poems from her most recently published collection, WILD GINGER. It’s in the Wild Ginger poems that we get the whole person. The poems of Bettie M. Sellers observe nature and the passing of the seasons in the beloved north Georgia mountains where she lives. Her poems resemble vivid portraits of people she met in her travels through life. The final section of Wild Ginger takes the reader traveling with her into Greek Mythology and to the land of Greece itself.

The poems I cannot forget are poems of this woman, painting her house on a summer day, her head cocked to one side, listening. Nor will I think of Bettie M. Sellers and not imagine her eyes looking up to the sky.

the season of cicadas by Bettie M. Sellers

It is the season of house painting
and cicadas, the soft swish of my brush
indistinguishable in the disembodied music
filling the valley as bright as leaves
edging red into September.

I have found their shells shadowed
on bark of dogwood and pine -
but I cannot see their wings liberated
into the air that fills the space
between this ridge and Double Knob.

It is the season of grape jelly,
of skimming the boiling surface
to make it clear in the jars
as purple glass.

When winds chill and I make hot biscuits
to butter and spread with this jam,
I shall hear cicadas hiding in the grass
and smell fresh paint
coating the boards of my house.

killdeer above the stars

by Bettie M. Sellers

They keen, a shrill song circling
the gravled roofs that cap
the planetarium dome,
for nestlings fallen out through
apertures that empty Apil's rain
and three small birds.

Each year we see them weaving
in and out among campus grasses,
gathering stuff for yet another nest.
They build, warm eggs, three specks
like bits of gravel skittering
across the roofs, around the silver
pipes. From a window high across
the lawn, we watch a day, a week,
until the black-barred parents
warn us with their mourning song.

They cry above the dome, among maples
leaning down to shadow Betelgeuse.
Then they are gone until April returns,
and killdeers nest again above Andromeda.

watching the stars fall by Bettie M. Sellers

Perseid, the meteor showers
of late summer, the Big Dipper
pours out snippets of light
on the slopes of Rabun Bald,
on ground-pine spreading green
stars under low brush.

Jewelweed catches yellow, golds,
shares orange with Turk's Cap
lilies nodding beside the road.

In this near darkness,
I cannot see Joe-Pye -Weed,
wild asters absorbing
the purple rays or a great
mushroom splashed with reds
spilling over onto a terra-cotta
mound of black ants.

When morning comes,
I will forget the light
streaking down the sky
above the mountain,
see only replenishment,
colors touched up, warmed
across the August land.


Western From Bald Mountain (1974) Out of Print

Appalachian Carols ( 1976)

Spring Onions and Cornbread ( Pelican Publishing 1978)
available www.alibris.com

Morning of the Red Tailed Hawk (Green River Press 1981
available www.alibris.com

Satan's Playhouse (1986)

Liza’s Monday (Appalachian Consortium Press, Boone, 1986)

The Bitter Berry: The Life of Byron Herbert Reece
(1992 University of Georgia Press)

Wild Ginger (Images 1988, Reprinted by Kennesaw State University Press 2004)

Wild Ginger also available at www.alibris.com. Note from Alibris:About this title: Best known for her poems about life in the north Georgia Mountains. This collection of poetry from the former Poet Laureate of Georgia was chosen by Georgia Center for the Book for its Georgia 2005 Top 25 List.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Are You Hungry For Poetry?

DON'T LEAVE HUNGRY - Fifty Years of Southern Poetry Review fell open in my hands yesterday when I brought in the mail.
It's my contributor's copy. It's feast of poetry collected by the press from the late 1950s to the present, edited by James Smith and with a forward by Billy Collins, published at the University of Arkansas Press.

Turning the pages, reading favorite poems by many of my friends down through the years was like going to reunion.

The anthology is arranged by decades. For the section of the 1980's my poem "Grass" was chosen.

GRASS by Nancy Simpson

We ought to be thankful it grows wild
on roadbanks, sometimes blond and curled.
It holds earth together and still
we hear Earth is falling.

Sink holes in the south swallow cars.
We do not doubt, but can we help wonder
what happens when the bottom drops?
Maybe clumps fall with he Jeep

and the Porsche, forming the shoreline
of a lake, in some posh suburb.
Grass has a right to be cherished,
Crowning Glory, clipped to perfection.

No matter where we sleep we live
with threat hanging over our lawns.
Who says we need more weapons?
We want to know what will happen to grass,

grass everywhere, amber savannahs,
sacred as the hair on our heads.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


My writing friend, Sam Hoffer has awarded me a Blog Friendship Award. I appreciate it more than you may think.
Sam and I belong to the North Carolina Writers' Network Netwest. In the last days of Nov. 2008, Glenda Beall, Program Coordinator, planned a Saturday class on How to Start a Blog. Ten of us sat in a small library room and, with the help of Glenda and instructor Kay Lake, we each started our own blog. The only experience I had was posting to the N.C. Writers Network West Blog when Glenda asked me. But I came to class that day with my ideas in hand and before sundown, I had LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE up and running: www.nancysimpson.blogspot.com.

My blog attempts to be “a dwelling place for practicing poets.” It focuses on Southern and Appalachian poetry. Sam sat across from me in that workshop. Her focus was cooking, O but not every-day-cooking, let me tell you. Her blog http://mycarolinakitchen.blogspot.com will take you across the world in search of cuisine. Now, four months later, our blogs are thriving with followers and awards. Thank you Sam, for this blog FRIENDSHIP AWARD.

EIGHT BLOGGERS I CHOOSE for the Friendship Award are friends who have visited my home and I have visited theirs, or I’ve sat
with them month after month, year after year in Netwest poetry critique sessions. I probably met them through NC Writers Network West or in a class at John C. Campbell Folk School. What sets these apart is that they are practicing poets, and they are my blogger friends.

Glenda of http://profilesandpedigrees.blogspot.com
Carole of http://carolerichardthompson.blogspot.com
Jayne of http://commagoddess.blogspot.com
Lynn of http://kudzukottage.blogspot.com
Judy of http://judyidliketosay.blogspot.com
Pat of http://pat-workman.blogspot.com
Brenda of http://blueridgepoet.blogspot.com
Richard of http://richard-apieceofmymind.blogspot.com

Along with the Friendship Award comes this message: Include it with the naming of your eight.

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated." It also says: "Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

Monday, March 23, 2009

TWO POEMS by Nancy Simpson Dedicated to the Memory of Former Student, Dennis White

THE SHUT WINDOW by Nancy Simpson

Our handicaps are apparent
today in the sunlight.
When we come out of the classroom
to look at our shadows
we find our bodies are crooked, see
the spastic walk of our dark selves,
so we laugh and make a game. Shadow
proves to us there is light.

Dennis who is sixteen
wants to be a monster.
He lifts his arms and spreads his fingers.
With white chalk I outline the shape
of his body. The picture of the boy
stays etched on the pavement.

Afternoon sun through the window
of the classroom frames a silhouette
of leaves moving on the blackboard.
We listen but cannot hear the leaves
rustling. They are separated from the tree
outside the shut window.

Previously published in NIGHT STUDENT


for Dennis White

Remember the orange balloon
floating above the track field
at Cullowhee last spring?
How it stayed all morning
then passed on from view
while you dashed fifty meters
and won a blue ribbon.

There is life after death, Boy.
Old leaves rise from the ground, see them
rising above low growth and new pine.
Walk face into the wind and see.
A hood will not stay on your head.
My scarf comes loose, glides off
like something alive, flying
straight out of this world.

Previously published in The Appalachian Journal
and included in NIGHT STUDENT.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Is Poetry Art? Bettie Mixon Sellers said, "A Poem is Like a Painting."

"A poem is like a painting," Bettie M. Sellers said. It was years ago, must have been in the 1970s, when I first heard her reading some of her poems at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. She was reading from a collection titled Westward from Bald Mountain. That evening, I learned that Brasstown Valley is a geographical region covering both Brasstown Bald Mountain in the north Georgia Mountains, the place of her poems, and the same region, crossing the Georgia state line covering the valley and small village of Brasstown that is the home of the folk school.

Bettie M. Sellers talked about two of her poems in particular, one being like a landscape painting and the other being like a portrait painting. I wrote down every word she said. After her poetry reading, we talked about how we were kin by marriage but more kin by poetry.

During this, her birth month, Bettie Mixon Sellers is our featured poet for MARCH 2009. Here are two more of her poems,
a landscape and a portrait.

BRASSTOWN VALLEY by Bettie M. Sellers

How fair the mountains
when willows green-out on the valley floor,
feathery light against spruce and pine,
and Jack-in-the-Pulpit thrusts his red-tipped spikes
up through warming leaf mold.
How fair the mountains
when sourwood waves spicy white flags
to tempt the roving bees,
and blue mid-summer's haze hides in distant
ridge indistinct as behind a soft veil.
How fair the mountains
when autumn unfolds a patch-work quilt
of red and gold and brown;
when day is warmed and yellow to touch,
and nights come crisp and cool.
How fair the mountains
when pines, ice-sparkled, bend on Cedar Ridge;
when February snow has hushed all sound
except a passing crow, and Brasstown waits,
asleep in winter sun.


Persistent as ferns in moist earth,
Will stands beside Big Bald Creek,
his body flowing with the landscape
as easily as the current emerges
from Enotah's height
to tumble down the valleyside.
Quartz-flecked as a gray stone
shines in a shadowy place,
his eyes under grizzled brows
glint promise of another spring
and laurel petals on the stream.
Then he speaks and tall pines echo
as ageless wind song
unchanged by roaring jets
the leave their insubstantial trails
white above the mountain.

--Bettie M. Sellers

Dear Reader. Of the poems presented this month
by Poet of the Month Bettie M. Sellers, which one
do you like best?

More poems will be posted near the end of the
month on Bettie's birthday.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

FABULOUS BLOG AWARD for Living Above the Frost Line

I just received a “Fabulous Blog Award” for Living Above the Frost Line from North Carolina writer Kathryn Stripling Byer of Here, Where I Am. Kathryn Stripling Byer is North Carolina’s current Poet Laureate, appointed by the Governor. Vicki Lane, mystery writer and author of the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries, passed the “Fabulous Blog Award” to Kathryn.

I appreciate this award from Kathryn Stripling Byer. www.kathrynstriplingbyer.blogspot.com.

She said I can name five Fabulous Blog Awards. It was hard to name only five blogs. These five read my posts. I say, “Visit often and leave your calling card, a comment.” And they do that, while also making their own mark.

1. www.kudzukottage.blogspot.com
2. www.blindpigandtheacorn.com
3. www.profilesandpedigrees.blogspot.com
4. www.carolerichardthompson.blogspot.com
5. www.blueridgepoet.blogspot.com

These five blogs are invited to pass along the “Fabulous Blog Award.” The rules aren’t mine. They came with the award. You must pass it on to five other Fabulous Bloggers in a post. You may find their email addresses on their Profile page or, if not available, post as a "Comment" to their latest post. You must include the person that gave you the award and link it back to them; www.nancysimpson.blogspot.com.

You must list five of your “Fabulous Addictions” in the post.

You must copy and paste these rules in the post.
Right click the award icon and save to your computer; then post with your own awards. This is a tribute, and it widens the reading audience.


1. Humanity. I am addicted to humans. There is nothing on this earth more precious.

2. Planet Earth. The natural world is my treasure. I am fascinated with the smallest habitat and the largest land biomes.

3. Poetry. I’m addicted. I read poetry every day. I've been a practicing poet, publishing in literary magazines and teaching writing classes for years.

4. Reading. I’d rather read than eat. If not poetry, I have a book of historical fiction beside my bed. I confess. I love reading what is being written now by the writers of our time, even first drafts of their work, and often I get the opportunity to do it. After reading words by writers alive, I know there are intelligent people around, and I feel safer living in our world because of them.

5. My mountain. My soul found peace in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Yes, I am obsessed. Appalachia exists. I’m interested in all things Appalachian.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Who is Saint Patrick? Why Do We Celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

The man we know as Saint Patrick was born in Britain between 387 AD - 390 AD to a Christian family who owned a villa and slaves to tend it. At age sixteen he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland where he became a slave, tending to sheep for seven years. Patrick escaped his captivity and returned to Britain where he was reunited with his family.

Later Patrick was ordained by the Catholic Church. He returned to Ireland where he was successful converting pagans to Christianity. He lived the rest of his life in Ireland although life was not easy for him there. He died on March 17, 461 AD. By the eighth century he became the Patron Saint of Ireland.

Saint Patrick is celebrated throughout the world because of the myths that remain to this day. One myth is that he drove all of the snakes out of Ireland. Some believe it and others say there never were any snakes in Ireland to begin with. Others believe Patrick was a true saint and that symbolically, he drove evil out of Ireland.

Another myth surrounding Saint Patrick is that as a priest, he explained the Holy Trinity to his parishioners by using the three leaves of the clover to represent Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As ages passed, Saint Patrick’s birthday was acknowledged by an Irish priest, and the Irish family might have a large meal that day or they might not. Today Irish descendants around the world celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with feasts, with special Irish blessings, with shamrocks, with green, green, all things green.

On this special Saint Patrick’s Day, I send blessings to you. May the luck of the Irish be yours.


THREE IRISH POETS - Yeats, Heaney, and Mudoon.

Find their poems and read them. Or, Look them up on internet, and listen to them read their poems to you.

William Butler Yeats June 1865 - Jan. 1939

Seamus Heaney Born 1939, Nobel Prize Winner, Heaney is considered my many to be the greatest living poet writing in the English language today.

Paul Muldoon, born 1951 in North Ireland. 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Moy Sand and Gravel (pub. 2002) His 10th poetry collection, Horse Latitudes was published in 2006.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

THE RUBY GLASS SPOONHOLDER a poem by Bettie M. Sellers

If the yellow poplars could tell a story,
they would remember back to October, 1895:
It wouldn't have cost her much.
a souvenir from the fair to take
home to College Park where a daughter
waited with her first born, my mother.

Great Grandmother Rebecca took in the sights
of the Cotton States International Exposition,
had the souvenir vendor inscribe the spoonholder:
Cosby, love from Mama, 1895. I've wondered
if she bought one for Angie and Bettie too.

Would the red maples have chattered a bit
as Grandmother strolled past the bandstand
in time to Sousa's new march, the rousing
strains of "King Cotton?" Or if she dared
to step across the grass to take in Buffalo
Bill, Annie Oakley, colorful in feats
of daring-do with horse and gun?
I suspect that Reverend Grandfather, straight
in his high collar, would have been more likely
to draw close to hear Booker T. Washington
as he delivered a landmark address, Atlanta
Compromise, a first for members of his race.

Whatever they saw, the pair walked
on smoothed earth, the scars of war no longer
testifying to battle, vain line to stand
against the swift advance of Sherman's men.
Other of my grandparents experienced
that same march near Macon, had their home saved
by virtue of a Yankee captain and Grandfather's
Masonic pin. Atlanta, Macon, the land has healed,
a new era of progress reigned,
the maple trees had grown a share of fine new rings.

Out of the acres of exposition grounds,
a park has risen to serve other years,
other generations. Red maples,
yellow poplars wave their bright leaves
each fall, new grandmothers buy trinkets
for their young, and Great-grandmother's
ruby spoonholder sits, catching the early
morning sun on a tall shelf in my den.

Written by Bettie M. Selers as Poet Laureate of Georgia


Bettie M. Sellers has written about her father’s people, who came to America from England in 1640, and has told how they migrated from Virginia to North Carolina. Her great grandfather arrived in Oxford, Georgia in 1837. He was a builder and furniture maker. His children spread across the state. Her own father was born and raised in the rural community of Rica, Georgia west of Atlanta. They were a family of farmers, teachers, and preachers.

Her great grandfather Seale was a circuit-riding Methodist preacher who had some connection with establishing the Georgia mountain mission school that would become Young Harris College.

Bettie M. Sellers has often spoken of her maternal grandmother who came from the piedmont of Georgia to become a student at the mountain school in 1889. Her grandmother told the young Bettie stories about her life at the school. Sellers says, “Listening to my grandmother, I had no way of knowing that one day I would myself come to Young Harris College.” Sellers became a teacher of English at Young Harris College in 1965. She became Young Harris College Emeritus, Dr. Bettie M. Sellers, retiring in 1997.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Janice Townley Moore and Nancy Simpson Honored for New Anthology Publication

Nancy Simpson and Janice Townley Moore, were honored at Coffee With the Poets, (N.C. Writers Network West) March 11, 2009 at Phillips and Lloyd Book Store on the town square in Hayesville, NC. The poets were recognized for having poems included in the recently released anthology, THE POETS GUIDE TO THE BIRDS, edited by Judith Kitchen and former US Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser, (2009 Anhinga Press, Tallahassee.)

Nancy Simpson and Janice Townley Moore

Janice Townley Moore read poems from the anthology, most of them related to sounds of birds, for example, “ Songbird” by John Brehm, which she said was one of the best poems in the book. Moore also read “Cardinal” by Bruce Bond, and she read her poem, “Teaching the Robins,” which is the title poem of her chapbook, published at Finishing line Press. “Teaching the Robins,” gives the reader an image of an English teacher attempting to teach the grief poetry of Emily Dickinson to the students in her classroom.

Nancy Simpson read several poems from the anthology, including Linda Pastan’s “The Birds,” and Gray Jacobik’s “ Flamingos.” She also read , “Cranes in August,” by Kim Addonizio and she dedicated the crane poem to poet Maren O. Mitchell who is a proficient poet as well as accomplished at making paper cranes. Nancy Simpson read her poem chosen for the anthology titled, “Carolina Bluebirds.”

The editors of THE POETS GUIDE TO THE BIRDS presented 151 contemporary American poets. Nancy Simpson said, “This is a different kind of field guide. You see a bird but when you look it up in this “poet’s guide”, you will find ten poems listed under Cardinal, thirteen under Crow, only one under Carolina Bluebird, and only one under Nuthatch and so on. Twenty-five poems are listed under Birdsong/Sound.

Editor Ted Kooser expressed the hope that “readers will enjoy this book just half as much as if they’d actually seen all the birds these poems represent.”

Poets attending Coffee With the Poets read their original poems in the open mic reading. Some of those poets celebrating birds were: Karen Holmes, Carole Thompson, Brenda Kay Ledford, Ellen Andrews, Maren O. Mitchell, Ann Cahill, Linda Smith and Glenda Barrett.

Poet Maren O. Mitchell

Poet Karen Holmes

Poet Glenda Barrett, author of WHEN THE SAP RISES, Finishing Line Press

To order a copy of THE POETS GUIDE TO THE BIRDS: www.anhinga.org or www.amazon.com or contact Phillips and lloyd Bookstore in Hayesville, NC.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


My father's house is slowly falling down
since no one is about to tend the creaks
in sagging floors or smear tar on the leaks
that drip in widening circles dark and brown.
The slanting chimney drops a loosened stone
clattering down the roof of rusted tin;
and windows gape like old men caught in
toothless yawns that breathe a sigh and moan.

But lately I have hung its ancient door
from hand-wrought hinges of a new design.
Remembered shadows I hold rightly mind
are dancing green and amber on my floor
where summer afternoons, the sun will trace
a wicker chair, my father's face.

Previously published, and included in the collection
(1981) Green River Press
University Center, Michigan 48710

Bettie M. Sellers, Poet of the Month
(for the Month of March, 2009)

Bettie M. Sellers


B.A., LaGrange College, laGrange, Georgia, 1958

M.A., University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, 1958

Further Study: Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College, Vermont;

Schiller College, Paris, France;

North Georgia College, Dahlonega, Georgia;

Summer Sessions through University of California, Berkley (at Oxford University, England University of Kent, Cantebury, and a three week session of Anthropology of the Greek Bronze Age in Grece and Crete, 17 Bronze Age sites)

NEH Summer sessions on Modern Poetry at Yale University, on Greek and Roman Culture at Ohio State Univesity, on Greek Tragedy at Dartmouth College, and on Greek and Roman Comedy at The University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Honorary Doctorate of Literature, LaGrange College 1989


Taught in the English Department at Young harris College, 1965-1996

Served as Chairperson of the Division of Humanities, 1975-1985

Goolsby Professor of English, 1986-1996. Retired June 1996.

Bettie M. Sellers was installed in the position of Georgia Poet Laureate
by Governor Zell Miller in 1997.


Water on the Highway moves before me.
Witch Water, I say, as though some sorceress waits,
snapping her crooked fingers to make it disappear.
It is real, I tell you. It evaporates,
or seems to, and it is always there.

Last night a friend talked about going home,
the roadmap she followed, the brdge she had to cross.
As I listened, I studied her words on paper
describing a house with stained glass windows,
a wicker chair, her father's face. I want to believe
poets who say this is the way home, who go and come
traveling lines as concrete and safe as any interstate.

The sun is hot today and my map is marked, open.
I drive home, knowing as I go,
I will have to cross water to get there.

First published in The Georgia Review.
Included in collections Across Water and Night Student.

How and When I wrote the poem WATER ON THE HIGHWAY

In the late 1970s I became serious about writing poetry. I took a writing class at Tri County Community College in Murphy, NC. There I met the man I named my poetry mentor, Steve Harvey. No matter how many classes, workshops, critique sessions and MFA degrees later, when someone asks me who is your poetry mentor, I answer Steve Harvey. He was an English professor at Young Harris College, teaching that one night a week class at the community college. How fortunate for me! Through the years, he remains the instructor who taught me the most about writing poetry.

In the same writing class were other poets already publishing their poems, Janice Townley Moore and Bettie M. Sellers, also both on the English faculty at Young Harris College. They encouraged me in my efforts. In our weekly critique session with Steve Harvey, they astounded me, saying things like, "Send that poem to the Georgia Review." I did not know The Georgia Review was then one of the top five literary magazines in America. I did not know, but I did quickly learn that the universities of America control poetry, that basically the universities of America decide who will be allowed to practice and publish poetry and who will not. I repeated Steve Harvey's class three quarters in a row.

The next year, the same writers continued to meet once a week at the home of Bettie M. Seller in Young Harris, Georgia. Steve Harvey, who was writing short stories at the time, shared his work with us.

I especially remember one night Bettie M. Sellers read a poem she was working on about her father's house. "Sonnet in Stained Glass." The poem influenced me. No doubt about it. Soon after, I wrote a poem, "Water On the Highway." Both Bettie Sellers and I went on to see those two poems published.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Bettie M. Sellers is Georgia’s most honored living poet. Governor Zell Miller appointed her as Georgia Poet Laureate in 1997, and she served in that office until 2000. She received the Governor’s Award for the Humanities in 1987 and in 1992 she was named Poet of the Year by American Pen Women. She received the Stanley W. Lindberg Award which recognizes outstanding contributions to Georgia culture. The Georgia Writers Association honored Bettie M. Sellers with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.

In this her birth month, we celebrate the life and the achievements of Georgia Poet, Bettie M. Sellers.


I used to know that stars were stars
and stayed wherever in that distant place
their ordered orbit was. The sky
was snug with Cassiopeia's Chair,
and night had big and little bears to hunt.

Then, winking moving lights began to stitch
an arch from Sunset Ridge to Raven Cliffs--
planes to Birmingham and points beyond
with travelers drowsing past sleeping hills
folded like dark velvet, with ribbons wound
for lake and stream, silver in reflected light.

Now, satellites invade the ridge--
the star I thought was Venus rising
keeps on rising out of sight
to bring the morning's news--and wars
are instantaneously played on beams
that tear Orion's belt, divide Andromeda.

Green River Press, 1981

Bettie M. Sellers was born on March 30,1926 in Tampa, Florida. Almost immediately, her parents retuned to their Georgia home. The first seventeen years of her life were spent on a farm west of Griffin, Georgia. Life changed for her when she was eight years old, when a traveling theater troupe came to Griffin. At that time she fell in love with Shakespeare, and she fell in love with words.

She married Ezra Sellers in 1945, became the mother of a son and two daughters. She began working on her education, earning a B.A. from La Grange College in 1958 and an M.A. from the University of Georgia in 1966. She moved with her husband to Young Harris, Georgia where he became head of the Art Department at Young Harris College and she began teaching English. Her teaching career at Y.H.C. spanned thirty-one years.

In the spring of 1972, she began writing poetry, and she saw her poems published in top literary magazines throughout America. She celebrated the publication of one poetry collection after another. She traveled to many states answering invitations to read her poems.

In 1986-87, Sellers began working on a project about the life and poetry of Byron Herbert Reece, a nationally known poet who had taught at Young Harris in the fifties, before his death in 1958. In 1989, the film, “Bitter Berry” won many awards, including a Georgia Emmy for Bettie M. Sellers and gained her an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from La Grange College.

She served on many boards and she is responsible for helping to start the Georgia State Poetry Society and for advancing the Institute of Continued Learning at Young Harris College. In the fall of 2008, at the Annual Meeting of The Institute of Continued Learning, Young Harris College, Bettie M. Sellers was honored with a lengthy testimonial.

Although she was raised in the Piedmont region of Georgia, Sellers’s work is touched by all things Appalachian. When one considers that 45 years of her life was lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, it will not come as a surprise that her poems are filled with images of the mountains and that she is honored and claimed as an Appalachian poet by literary scholars. In 2008, Southern Appalachian Poetry, An Anthology of Works by 37 Poets( McFarland Press) was published. Five of Bettie M. Sellers’s poems were included.

Bettie M. Sellers continues to live at the foot of a mountain in Young Harris Georgia where she has lived for the past 45 years. She still writes, does her pool exercises, attends book club meetings, and speaks on her favorite topic, literature.


Western From Bald Mountain (1974) Out of Print

Appalachian Carols ( 1976)

Spring Onions and Cornbread ( Pelican Publishing 1878)
available www.alibris.com

Morning of the Red Tailed Hawk (Green River Press 1981
available www.alibris.com

Satan's Playhouse (1986)

Liza’s Monday (Appalachian Consortium Press, Boone, 1986)

The Bitter Berry: The Life of Byron Herbert Reece
(1992 University of Georgia Press)

Wild Ginger (Images 1988, Reprinted by Kennesaw State University Press 2004)

Wild Ginger also available at www.alibris.com.
Note from Alibris:About this title: Best known for her poems
about life in southern Appalachia, Bettie Sellers is a poet
of profound humility and humanity, writing from the heart.
This collection of poetry from the former poet laureate of Georgia
was chosen by Georgia Center for the Book for its
Georgia 2005 Top 25 List.