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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."

Thursday, April 30, 2009

TEACHING THE ROBINS by Janice Townley Moore

Our feature of Janice Townley Moore as Poet of the Month (April 2009) ends today, but what will not end is a celebration of her poetry. I know of no other poet among us who writes greater poems of humanity, poems that are easily accessible with phrses and images that we remember long after reading the poem. --Naancy Simpson

TEACHING THE ROBINS by Janice Townley Moore

If it's true what the Chinese say,
souls can filter into birds like those
two robins outside my window,
swooping down. Their feet land
on March's early green
at the same moment I am teaching
Emily Dickison's grief,
my throat more taut from last year's losses
than the students slumped,
sleeping under lowered brims
of their baseball caps.
The robins stare in at me. They listen
to my voice hobbling over "tombs,"
"the feet, mechanical." They watch me
pacing forth and back befhind the panes.
The students sleep on in their numbness
where poetry does not exist
in the lighted arena of their dreams.
I think of all the dead,
how they do not have to worry
about being dead. This morning
life is on the other side of the window
where one robin remains
like an eye coprehending me,
long after the other dies.

Previously published in Prairie Schooner
and included as the title poem of

WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT Janice Townley Moore's

Like all fine poets, Janice Towley Moore is a conjurer. Spectres are everywhere in these poems- from a flashlight on the cellar stairs to an out of body experience, from moonstruck deer to teachable robins, all renderd with the magic words exquisitely chosen. Her poems are deftly crafted, moving, and powerful - fortunately, they are easy to summon and savor now that we have this exceptional new collection.

--John Stone, author Music From Apartment 8

Teaching the Robins can be ordered from Finishing Line Press, www.finishinglinepress.com or www.amazon.com

Note: Teaching the Robins is a "Limited Collector's Edition".

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


No, I am not sad that National Poetry Month will end for Americans tomorow. Poetry will not end for me. I continue in my relentless study, practice and teaching, always learning more about life and how to live it, how to endure life when the going get tough. One poet I have learned the most from is a poet who lives in the valley, just miles from my house --Janice Townley Moore.

Janice Townley Moore and I followed different paths in life, yet often when it came to poetry, we matched step for step in our development and in our accomplishments. That happened because we were in constant contact from the late 70s to this day, on the phone, always inquiring, "Have you heard from the editors?" Confessing, "I think I'm getting a new poem," or asking, "Can I read this one to you?" We've met monthly in the same NC Writers Network Poetry Critique Group which she leads for the past fifteen years or more.

I remember earlier, during the years when we worked a full day then went off by the van-load to Atlanta to hear nationally known and international poets read at Emory University. I remember when invited ourselves to read at Callanwolde, Turner Cassidy said, "Thank you for coming and thank you for bringing the audience," because there were so many of us from the mountains in that Young Harris College van.

When I read Janice Townley Moore's poem, "On Unicoi Mountain," I giggle. That was a car load of us coming home at 1:00 a.m. expecting to teach the next day. Seeing deer crossing the road, someone said, "That's a good omen," meaning maybe we will get a poem accepted. And both of us did.

Here is the poem:

by Janice Townley Moore

Like words almost spoken
then held back,
deer quiver near this road.

Beyond midnight
they move out bravely
in the edges
of our headlights,

stunned by these low moons
speeding toward them:

doe and fawn, a single doe,
the lone buck at the curve,
so many we lose count
as we drive up the mountain.

In the honest hours
of early morning
we confess that we believe
in omens.

Previously published in Appalachian Heritage
and published in TEACHING THE ROBINS,
Finishing Line Press, 2005

Sunday, April 26, 2009

How Do You Celebrate National Poetry Month?

Question: In the United States of America, April is National Poetry Month. As a practicing poet, do you celebrate National Poetry Month?

Nancy Simpson: Yes, I do celebrate from the first of April through the 30th of April. National Poetry Month is a special time of year for me and others like me. Our governmet thought well enough to set aside a month for all citizens to focus on and to celebrate poetry.

Question: How are you celebrating this month?

Nancy Simpson: On my website, I announced that Janice Townley Moore, in this her birth month, had been chosen as Poet of the Month for April 2009. As the days go by, more and more readers read her poems and comment. When a poet is featured on my site, it is not a one time thing, but rather short articles and an example of his or her poems throughout that month.

If you do not know of Janice Townley Moore, you should. She is a nationally known poet with her poems appearing in the best literary magazines. When Maya Angelou read her Inaugural Poem, all those years ago, The Associated Press knew who Janice Townley Moore was and called her to get a reaction to the Inaugural poem.

How else did you celebrate National Poetry Month?

Nancy Simpson: Each year different programs are planned. I hunt for them and attend them. Sometimes it seems nothing is planned, and that National Poetry Month is not even announced at a poetry reading, as if poets themselves do not even know, but my heart beats with joy and I celebrate all the more. On April 8th, N.C. Writers Network West's COFFEE WITH THE POETS featured 87 year old poet Dorothea Spiegel of Hiawassee, Georgia. She received a classical education and has been a practicing poet since in her teens. She read from a solid repertoire of the poems from her life, some traditional verse and some free verse. Her poetry is both hard hitting or humorous, and everyone there that day was amazed and thrilled.


Anything else exciting happen during National Poetry Month?

Nancy Simpson: Yes. One important thing happened to emerse me in a celebration of poetry. As Resident Writer at John C. Campbell Folk Scgool part of my job is to schedule the writing classes. With a secret plan of my own, and a smile in my heart, I scheduled myself to teach my once a year poetry class this year in April. I had to put my name down for two different months, one for What's In Your Writing Folder, a mixed genre writing class of poetry, essay, and short fiction. The other I consider my advanced poetry class for practicing poets. It was like giving myself a week long poetry celebration. The poets who traveled to the folk school were all advanced in their poetry writing. I will never forget the week of April 12-17, 2009. We read the work of major American poets,with a focus on Theorore Roethke and his famous poem, "Journey Into the Interior". The class was YOUR POETRY: JOURNEY INTO THE INTERIOR. What a way to celebrate national Poetry Month.

Virginia poet Robyn Reynolds

Poet, RUTH GRUBBS, from Tennessee "Under the Poet Tree"

Poet Barbara Groce from Morganton, Georgia

Poet Carole Richard Thompson of Blairsville, Georgia

Poet Karen Holmes from Atlanta, Georgia and Hiawassee, Georgia in the new writing studio at John C. Campbell Folk School.

A SPECIAL HIGHLIGHT OF MY WEEK APRIL 12-17 AT JOHN C. CAMPBELL FOLK SCHOOL Was having two local poet presenters visit my class. They were Appalachian poets Brenda Kay Ledford of Hayesville, NC and Glenda Barrett of Hiawassee, Georgia . They read their poems and talked about their private poetry lives.

Poet Glenda Barrett


Nancy Simpson: It's April 17, 2009, S H O W A N D T E L L , The Friday exhibit at John C. Campbell Folk School. What always amazes me is when I ask students say from the Blacksmith class who made rooters how long they had been making roosters and every single one said, "I've never been in a blacksmith shop before." Another nice surprise was when the poets hung up their poems on display people came in droves to read them.


National Poetry Month is almost over. Is it over?

Nancy Simpson: No it is not. All the while when I was writing or teaching or celebrating National Poetry Month, I have been living the secret life of an editor. I have been reading submissions from writers throughout the lower Southern Appalachian Mountains who live within the NC Writers Network West area - reading their essays, short stories and their poems. My head is full of the big story of the wide mountains, the valley towns, farms, rivers, lakes, the deep woods, the creatures and the humans who live here. The letters of acceptance will go out the end of April or the first of May. If I had one wish it would be that I could tell all of these fine writers to hang on a few more days, word is coming.

And do let me end by saying that if you have not celebrated National Poetry Month as yet, check your local calendar. In Hayeville, North Carolina we will be celebrating a program I cofounded eighteen years ago with Reba Beck for the Clay County Arts Council. It is a poetry contest for students in the middle school, high school and adults who are citizens of Clay County. Each year I have been asked to choose the contest judge.

Glenda Barrett, Appalachian born and raised poet, author of WHEN THE SAP RISES will judge the April 2009 Potry Contests.

On April 30, 2009, National Poetry Month will be celebrated at 6:00 p.m., a one hour program in the Hayeville High School lecture Hall. With all the mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, you'll need to arrive early to get a seat. If you have not celebrated poetry this month, do come celebrate the poetry of our young poets and the poetry judge, Glenda Barrett, author of When the Sap Rises.

Or check your town's event calendar. Chances there is still a way for you to celebrate National Poetry Month.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009



Where the road slices
through Needle Gorge
animals of stone
root out of the cliff.

Their snouts, heads, shoulders
bulge from red clay
as if to catch the scent of
ancient water.

Eons piled upon eons
this is the only place
where the mountain lion
will lie with the lamb.

Stacked together,
the buffalo, wild boar,
oxen, the goat
with its grassy beard--

Did they all stop
before they reached
the saving water of the river,
caught in their final breath?

--Janice Townley Moore

Previously published in Southern Humanities Review
and included in TEACHING THE ROBINS

Note from Nancy Simpson:

I sometimes feel I know Janice T. Moore's poetry as well as I know my own. We have kept in contact about our writing down through the years. We touch base on the phone. She would sometimes ask, "Have you heard from the editors yet?" I'd say, "I got a rejection from X." She ask, "Anything in the human hand?" We consider it encouragement if an editor writes any kind word on the skimpy Post It size rejection, such as "send again" or even the word, "Sorry."

On the phone one time, I asked Janice where she keeps the poems when she is working on them. That was a long time ago and the place may have changed, but her answer was, "In the kitchen in my cookbook. I always have and still do keep my new and in process poems on a clip board and the clip board goes everywhere with me.

"What are you working on." I asked one day. She said, "Do you know the old road between Hayesville and the Folk School?
I'm working on a poem titled "What Lies Under the Earth." I have some images of huge animals. They're coming out of the bank, heading toward Brasstown Creek. "

"Yes, I've seen them."

She finished the poem, submitted it to Southern Humanities Review and it was quickly selected for publication. Later
UNDER THE EARTH was reprinted an LIGHTS IN THE MOUNTAINS Stories, Essays and Poems by Writers Living in or Inspired by the Southern Appalachian Mountains (2003) and in Teaching the Robins, Finishing line Press 2005.)

Friday, April 17, 2009


Poet, Janice Townley Moore


WHERE CAN I FIND POEMS by Janice Townley Moore?

Janice Townley Moore's poems can be found in such literary magazines as The Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, Shenandoah, Chattahoochee Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, Main Street Rag and Apalachee Review and

TEACHING THE ROBINS, "a special collector's edition" was published at Finishing Line Press, 2005. It can be ordered at
www.finishinglinepress.com and www.amazon.com.

Poems by Janice Townley Moore are included in textbook The Bedford Introduction to Literature.

Her poem "Teaching the Robins" was chosen for the anthology THE POETS GUIDE TO THE BIRDS, (2009 Anhinga Press.)

Janice Townley Moore - A Poet Who Has Helped Many Other Poets

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Janice Townley Moore has spent most of her life in the small mountain town of Hayesville in western North Carolina and in the small Georgia mountain town of Young Harris where she is a member of the English Department at Young Harris College. 

Active in the North Carolina Writers’ Network West, Janice Townley Moore serves as the facilitator of the monthly poetry critique group held at Tri-County College, Murphy, N.C. where she has helped many beginning poets to fine-tune their poems.

Quietly and steadily over the years of her poetry writing career, Janice Townley Moore has advanced the poetry of other poets. In  1996 she co-edited  Like a Summer Peach:  Sunbright Poems and Old Southern Recipes, published by Papier-Mache Press where she promoted the poems of Peter Davidson, Sarah Gordon, Steven Harvey, Bettie M. Sellers, Memye Curtis Tucker and others.   She also served as poetry editor for Georgia Journal for a dozen years. In that position she published many southern poets, including the first published poems of Former President Jimmy Carter.

LIKE A SUMMER PEACH Sunbright Poems & Old Southern Recipes

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Weather Up Date from Above the Frost Line

From the Weather Woman Above the Frost Line:

Hello Readers,

All weekend April 4th and 5th (2009) we were under extreme weather advisories. Snow they said. I said, no, that can't happen. Sunday, April 6th, it turned dark and windy. Advisories said "Prepare for the hard freeze." The stories got darker and colder, making me believe it could happen. I said, okay, snow, but there will not be a hard freeze here.

Tuesday, April 7th was the strangest weather day ever seen on this mountain. When I woke up, the ground was covered with snow. I went straight out and took some photos. I discovered the dead cat I had buried on Monday but saw no dead Hostas.

Before I had my second cup of coffee the snow had melted.

It snowed again, hard, all morning. Fearing we were in for frozen ground, I bundled up again and went out to rebury the cat my dogs had dug up. It snowed and snowed, covered the road. But, when I put the shovel back in the tool shed and turned around the snow had all melted. Three times snow covered my road. Three times it melted in minutes.

All the while, advisories said, there will be a hard freeze tonight. My red tulips were bending low. I said no. That can't happen here. It's Dogwood Winter. That's all. It's just Dogwood Winter.

And sure enough. Even with two nights below freezing, we had no hard freeze here above the frost line. Not one plant was hit with hard freeze.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Janice Townley Moore is one of the most accomplished of the southern poets, yet certainly undervalued. She is a nationally known poet. Her poetry will be celebrated and featured here at Living Above the Frost Line. During this her birth month and this being National Poetry Month, we recognize Janice Townley Moore as Poet of the Month for April 2009.

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Janice Townley Moore has spent most of her life in the small mountain town of Hayesville in western North Carolina and in the small Georgia mountain town of Young Harris where she is a member of the English Department at Young Harris College. 

She began writing poetry when she was a student at LaGrange College. Since those days, she continued to write, often inspired by her surroundings in the North Georgia/North Carolina mountains. 

Her chapbook, Teaching the Robins, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2005.  Individual poems have appeared in such journals as The Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, The Chattahoochee Review, JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association), and Appalachian Journal.  She has poems forthcoming in The Apalachee Review and Main Street Rag. 



Atlanta, 1952

On days too hot for breath to be easy
my father left his desk in the cellar
to drive our Easter ducks, full grown,
to Piedmont Park for a swim.
Crated up in the trunk of our pea-green Plymouth,
they quacked and quacked the long three miles.
Our whole family went along for the show.
Without coat and tie my father sprawled
in the cool by the lake. I remember
how his wallet bulged in his back pocket
as he bent to unlatch the crate.
No pounding joggers then, only walkers slow as July
and a few children ringing the bells on their bikes.
A quite crowd inched forward to see the ducks
gliding over the dark reflections of magnolias,
sometimes flapping their wings
with the sound of sheets in the wind.
After paddling among the fallen petals,
they shored up for recrating,
lured by lettuce, as I watched
the late sun glinting off my father’s black shoes
sinking into the red clay bank.

first published in The Georgia Review