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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, May 31, 2009

Kevin Watson of Press 53 Announces the 2009 Poetry Winners

The winner of the first place award is Janice Townley Moore.

Poetry: Judge: Kathryn Stripling Byer

*First Prize: Janice Townley Moore of Young Harris, GA for “Windows Filled With Gifts,” “I'd Like to Think the Truth About the World,” and “Beginning Homer's Illiad Once Again.”

*Second Prize: Malaika King of Pinehurst, NC for “On Your Birth Day,” “Sweat Test for Cystic Fibrosis,” and “Swift Water.”

*Honorable Mention: Ellaraine Lockie of Sunnyvale, CA for “Saying Good-Bye,” “A Matter of Degree,” and “Seed of a Serial Killer.”

Bobby Sidna Hart of Advance, NC for “Weymouth House Bath,” “How She Was Found,” and “Frozen Wood.”

Carolyn Moore of Tigard, OR for “The Selkie Discovers the Information Age,” “Two Conversations in a White, White Kitchen,”
and “What the Apple Whispered.”

Clinton B Campbell of Beaufort, SC for “I Want to Dance with Rita Dove,” “The Day My Wife Kissed Pat Conroy,” and “Front Row Seat.”

Ellaraine Lockie of Sunnyvale, CA for “Godot Goes to Montana,” “Inheritance,” and “Should Have Been a Boy.”

Kory Wells of Murfreesboro, TN for “At The Old-Time Jamboree,” “Honky, 1971,” and “Tired of the Same Old Answers.”

Lisa Zerkle of Charlotte, NC for “The Strain and Snap,” “Bitter,” and “How to Hold a Grudge.”

Maureen A. Sherbondy of Raleigh, NC for “One Year After Your Death,” “Praying at Coffee Shops in the South,” and “Dust.”

A NEW POEM AND AN OLD POEM by Ruth Faulkner Grubbs

Waiting for Rebirth

Never turns branches loose
this scraggly old tree in the side yard.

Hovering like a Brillo pad
unabashed over the driveway
she has all the arms of her birth
and all the twigs sprung from these.

She has bird nests of seasons past
hidden well in the scrub.

She’s naked now, but promises new growth
and more twigs to her full figure,
blushing green leaves to flush out her beauty.

by Ruth Faulkner Grubbs

Written in class at John C. Campbell Folk School
April 2009, accepted and forthcoming in Poetry Guild Anthology

Her House of Clay by Ruth Faulkner Grubbs

They found the creamy white clay sparkling
a commodity of the earth free for taking
thrifty for useful projects
for mixing with spring water
a thick smooth soup
to cling to stones, tree trunks, and old boards
such as Mommie's house
a board and batten, one hundred years old
never painted.

An idea was born.

Kept secret
the far back corner
Mommie would't notice
a bucket for mixing
old paint brushes from the smoke house
a bit of stealth
an idea from Tom Sawyer
they'd read it at school
most of the summer morning
plying, slathering, reaching the low roof line
quite so no one would hear

The mixture dried
beautiful smooth almost white
pride tugged at their seams
Mommie appeared her toothless smile
the whole house she said
the small low built house
a long day's work and the next
they labored to set a jewel glistening upon the hill.

from HOLY GROUND Where Love Goes
by Ruth Faulkner Grubbs

Order this book from
Holy Ground
3601 Wilderness Road
Knoxville, TN 37917
$15.00 plus $3.00 package and posting
total $18.00

"Ruth Grubbs writes poetry and prose that is powerful,earthy, and true. Her writing is, in turn, humorous, enlightening, joyful, and haunting. She charms her readers with an authentic Appalachian voice that hails directly from the heart."

--Cathy Kodra

Friday, May 29, 2009



You who blog know it can be slow sometimes. At other times you have to double check your own site to see why so many are checking in and where in the world they are all coming from. We're finishing up our first six months with a number of new friends and followers and with three awards. It makes me happy. Thanks to all who have added comments and shared your writing on this site. That is what I enjoy most: (1) Hearing from you. (2) Reading your writing. I will continue.

As I have said before, visit often and leave your calling card, your comments. I appreciate that.

We welcome all. But to be honest, this is a site for writers, mainly poets. The goal is to feature a poet each month, to give
information about the poet that is not generally known and to print (with permission) as many of their poems as possible.
We want to feature Appalachian born poets and southern poets.

Another goal is to spread the news of poetry when poetry is in the news. Poetry in the news? That does not happen often, but it happened in January when Elizabeth Alexander read her inaugural poem and earlier this month when Britain, for the first time in their literary history, named their first woman poet laureate.

At least once a month, there will be a reprint of an already published Nancy Simpson poem.

Each month there will be guidelines for submitting poems, stories and essays listed in the right column.

Each month there will be a list of John C. Campbell Folk School writing classes.

Sometimes there will be a question, such as "Can you name these Iris Poets? There were no answers to that question.

Here is the new question.

Can you name these writers and the titles of their books?

(photo taken eleven years ago at Tri County Community College.
Textbook used in the class was Prairie Schooner Fiction Issue.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Last month at John C. Campbell Folk School I met Ruth Faulkner Grubbs, a Southern Appalachian poet from Knoxville, Tennessee. She is the author of Holy Ground, (sub titled) Where Love Goes, published (spring 2009) by Tennessee Publishing.

To read Holy Ground is to read an authentic story of growing up in the mountains, in Whitley County, Kentucky, “deep in poverty”, “ in a mountaintop cabin”, “... second daughter of a twenty year old mother and a father who made and sold moonshine.” It’s all in the book. Out of the sorrow and the joy, a woman stands tall before us, a woman whose spirit did not wither but thrived.

Black Oak (a place)

She lived there, my mother’s mother,
Mommie to me,
in a board and batten house
standing 100 years on the hill.
There we watched, past the holler,
into the pasture field where jerseys grazed
and left cow piles rich to feed the red soil
around tomatoes and corn
that grew down the steep bank to the well.

We watched into the field where dandelion greens
and crow’s feet and mouse’s ears and dock grew
to fill the black iron pots with salat to eat
with flat cakes of cornpone at supper time.

We watched past the field and the railroad
to Jellico, the Kentucky side,
hanging on a hill between Pine Mountain
and 25 W winding its way to Williamsburg.
Where shanties and the Texaco station soaked in
dust along side the calaboose holding prisoners
to go tomorrow to the country seat for hearing
their fate for moonshinin or breaking in
to steal a way of feedin their young-uns and gettin by.

Back across the bottom fields rich
with river dirt from the lazy creek that would rage
full grown and fast with heavy summer rains
we watched ponderous jaws of steel chew holes
and grab soil and the grass and grains of life
of new beginnings of all the seasons to come.
Strip minin, they called it, black gold.
To fire engines and stoves in factories
to build more things, they said, a different kind of beauty.

They left, and the holes filled with water
and lured young boys, some to swim
and some to drown.

from Knoxville Writers’ Guild Anthology 2008
Included in Holy Ground, 2009


I see her now, the long front porch
ragged rails and raw plank flooring
walking stooped to the willow rocker.

She sits with her bible
preaching duty and sin to her grandchildren.

I see hands thin and wrinkled
that work like instruments of precision
small finger bent to neat hook
a gift from her ancestors
stringing and breaking beans
peeling potatoes, peeling apples
to dry in the hot summer sun.

Shift dress from four sacks
bun of hair held in place
a hairpin color of red-eye gravy.

My little Babe, she called me
maybe her favorite girl child
(she loved the boy more
the only one among girls)
and said , she’ll be a nurse.
I didn’t want it but it happened that way.

from Holy Ground, 2009

Order this book from
Holy Ground
3601 Wilderness Road
Knoxville, TN 37917
$15.00 plus $3.00 package and posting
total $18.00

"Ruth Grubbs writes poetry and prose that is powerful,earthy, and true. Her writing is, in turn, humorous, enlightening, joyful, and haunting. She charms her readers with an authentic Appalachian voice that hails directly from the heart."

--Cathy Kodra

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

WHITE LIE a poem by Nancy Simpson

WHITE LIE by Nancy Simpson

End of May and we have nothing
better to do than walk on the mountain,
our cardigans closed against the cold.
You cannot take back one lie,
no even white ones, subtle

as berry blossoms beside this path.
I kick a stone and tell you I believe
we will pull free from the brambles.
Old timers call this Blackberry Winter,
a temporary cold spell, quick to pass.

Previously published in Davidson Miscellany
Included in Night Student

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

..."held in abeyance by a great leaf wall" lines by Nancy Simpson

My window on the valley closed. The curtain has been drawn, so I no longer see the ridge line.

But do not feel sorry for me. My woods are filled today with multiple shades of the wild flame azalea.

I am "held in abeyance by a great leaf wall every shade of green we can imagine." (lines from "Walking Up With a Friend."

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Poet and writer Carol Ann Duffy was appointed Britain’s Poet laureate May 1, 2009, becoming the first woman poet laureate in 341 years of British Literary history.

According to the New York Times “Ms Duffy is known for using a deceptively simple style to produce accessible, mischievous poems , dealing with the darkest turmoil and lightest minutia of every day life.”

Her most popular poetry collection is The World’s Wife (1999) which has the subject women overlooked by history and mythology, such as Mrs. Rip Van Winkle who found relief when Rip fell asleep, giving her some time to herself. In
“Mrs Darwin, ” she wrote:

7 April 1852
Went to the zoo
I said to him--Something about the chimpanzee over there
reminds me of you.

Carol Ann Duffy told the B B C Women’s World that she thought hard about accepting the position of Poet Laureate, then decided to take it as recognition of the great women poets we have writing. She said she hoped to “contribute to people’s understanding of what poetry can do, and where it can be found.”

Carol An Duffy, 53, is the oldest of five children, growing up in a working class neighborhood in Glasgow, Scotland. She began writing in school, inspired by several teacher. In 1983 she won the National Poetry Competition in Britain.

The Cultural Secretary, Andy Burnham called Ms. Duffy, “a towering figure of English literature today and a super poet.”

Judith Palmer Director of Poetry Society said Duffy has “paved the way for whole generations of women poets who came after her,”

As Poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy is to receive a yearly stipend which she said she plans to donate to the Poetry Society, to finance a Poetry Prize.