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."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


What is the name of the full moon of May?
Answer: The Full Flower Moon.

See Full Flower Moon
on May 27, 2010


Sunday, May 23, 2010

FOUR POEMS - Meet Appalachian Born Poet Barbara Groce

I am happy to introduce you to one of my favorite Appalachian born poets, Barbara Groce. She lived in Saint Charles, Virginia the first nine years of her life, and St. Charles lives in her heart still. She has vivid memories of the town , the simple life and most of all, the people continue to speak their stories in her poems collected in the collection APPALACHIAN GIRL.
--Nancy Simpson

Cat’s Back

A creek ran through St. Charles,

beginning in hills at road’s end.

In dry times, babbling over rocks,

flowing gently around bends, leaving town

in a leisurely kitten trot.

In rainstorms the lazy feline

evolved into a catamount,

wrathful and swollen by water

surging from each groove and hillock,

and grabbing everything around.

From our house on a hill, we had

a bird’s eye view of the prey

floating by, attached to the cat’s back-

toys, clothes, lumber, tables, chairs,

and an occasional outhouse,

one of which landed upright

near the train depot one day,

or so the story flows.

Barbara Groce


I often think of our

little yellow house

in St. Charles and the

small threads which wove

my childhood tapestry,

such as:

the aroma of yeast rolls

and donuts mother made.

gathering around the radio

on Saturday for “The Hit Parade”

the clean plate club

Daddy pulling Bobby and me

on an old wool blanket

to polish newly waxed floors

reading in the overstuffed

chair, “The Wizard of Oz”

and “Little Women” series

over and over again

Mother’s back rubs

Daddy pulling teeth by teasing

that he would slam the door

with thread tied to it,

which made any other way

acceptable to us

Mother’s shining blue-black hair

the tree I climbed, where I sat,

sang, and thought about the world

snows too deep to walk in

our canary who died

Daddy’s beehives out back

playing on our slide and swing

waving at trains, on the nearby track

hide and seek with our dog Boots

watching the town’s creek rise

during rainstorms,

our elbows on the window sill

my fall into the coal bin

the doctor removing

all except two slivers

which remain embedded today,

as a reminder of my

Appalachian roots

and the little yellow house

on the hill.

Barbara Groce

Picnic Pictures

We reached the picnic spread, Schaffer’s Ford,

by a winding dirt road several miles long,

then parked next to a split rail fence.

You could hear the rushing river,

cows lowing and occasional

soft clangor of their bells.

Wildflowers colored the place,

roses, black eyed Susans, lilies,

yarrow and Queen Anne’s lace.

We crossed the fence and pasture,

artfully dodging cow chips

while balancing food and drinks.

A resident bull once charged Uncle Abe,

so none of us ever wore red.

In the ford’s cool water, we cousins

floated, splashed each other, played games

of knighthood, sat on thrones of ancient rock,

wore daisy crowns, and bore scepters

which we made form sycamore.

Ring of horseshoes, thud of batted balls,

and known voices of aunts, uncles,

and parents were a soothing backdrop

during our afternoon of play.

Later smoke from cooking fires

wafted to us promising food

fit for all of us queens and kings...

hamburgers, baked beans, watermelon

cherry sodas and churned ice cream.

Today my inward eye sees

with clarity those picnic days.

Treasured moments

flare along the way.

If I could somehow return

to one long ago place,

it would be there.

Barbara Groce


The coal train, its whistle a haunting wail,

every car piled high with shiny black,

clickety clack, day and night chugged along the rail.

The miners streamed from carbon into gloam,

voices low, hats with lights, tin lunch pails,

tired eyes, hunching backs, faces black, trudging

on to home.

Rockers creaking, knives a’ whittling, kin folks

spun tales of old in their dialect,

and lulled the children all to peace

with the stories told.

Feet on wood floors, tapping, dancing, clogging,

set to bluegrass music, young and old’s delight,

resounded through the hollows, livened up the night.

Ever smoothing her ancient rocks, the river’s

roar filled up the soul, her peaceful pools

became the young folks’ favorite swimming holes,

back in those hills of Virginia.

In a sea of green sat the steepled church,

fresh-white, where hymns rang out, twangy, sweet,

and dinner on the ground lingered on ‘till twilight.

Fingers flew, needle and thread whished away

through myriads of cloth...a quilting bee,

where scraps emerged as masterworks of stitchery.

Nestled in the valley’s point, the farthest,

that little town, now ghost, was once alive

where plain folks led simple lives, lived them to the fullest,

way, way back in those haunting hills of Virginia.

Barbara Groce

Barbara Groce received her undergraduate degree at University of North Carolina Greensboro and her Masters in Education at East Carolina University. She lives now in Morganton, Georgia with her husband Bill.

Order your copy of Appalachian Girl at

POBox 746

Morganton, Georgia 30560

or contact the author Barbara Groce

at billg5@tds.net.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Are You a Practicing Poet Interested in Taking a Top Rated Poetry Writing Class?

Recently you may have heard me mention a new poetry writing class offered at John C. Campbell Folk School. I cannot emphasize more that this is the class you want to take. The instructor is Eric Nelson, a prolific poet with poems published in literary magazines across America. The focus on his class is how to write poems and how to get them published in literary magazines.


taught by writing Instructor Eric Nelson

JUNE 13 -19, 2010

From Journaling to Publishing in Journals

(Class Description)

Focus on the process of writing and publishing poetry,

beginning with journal prompts and moving through a

series of revisions with attention to concrete and abstract

language, imagery, metaphor, music, and other tools of the

poet. Create four or five finished poems ready to submit to

literary journals and gain valuable "do's and don'ts" for

submitting poetry manuscripts to editors and publishers.

All levels welcome.

Eric Nelson has published four collections of poetry including Terrestrials which won the 2004 X.J. Kennedy Award. He has taught introductory and advanced poetry workshops at Georgia Southern University for over 20 years. Eric's poems appear frequently in journals, anthologies, and online.

Pre Register 1 800 FOLK SCH

Full Time residents of the counties listed below are eligible for a 50% discount if space is available: Cherokee, Clay, Macon, Swain, Graham in North Carolina. Union, Towns, and Fannin in Georgia. Polk County in Tennessee.

Two poems by Eric Nelson


To the untended water-garden

By our back steps a frog has come.

For a time we knew it only by a splash

When we opened the door, splash

And tremble of the horse tails and umbrella grass.

Then, sometimes, if we kept still we’d spot

Between the green mesh its dark, volcanic back

Jutting from the water and its eyes – black holes

Drawing us in, sizing us up – before it slid

Beneath the surface not breaking the surface.

Rarely, rarely now it will freeze on the water’s edge

And let us watch as long as we remain well

Within ourselves – unlike ourselves – barely

Breathing before the small ugly god overlooking

The world it brought our senses to.

by Eric Nelson

First published in The Oxford American

(Summer 2009)


At the out-of-business Christmas tree farm,

The unchosen have grown

So large they aren’t Christmas trees


Like former child stars

They have at last

Become themselves. Starless

They grew into their names – pine, spruce, fir –

Spreading upward and out, filling

The gaps where the others once were,

The ones with one life,

Briefly lit.

by Eric Nelson

First published in Batteau

and reprinted in the chapbook

The Twins, Split Oak Press 2009

Saturday, May 1, 2010

SACRED FIRE - Three Poems by Brenda Kay Ledford

from Sacred Fire

Sacred Fire

Monday morning hiking
the river cane path,
home of the Cherokee.

A monarch butterfly cutting
through denim blue skies,
lilac asters caress

the banks of Brasstown Creek.
A parchment leaf floats
on bubbles, blackberry brambles

ramble along the trail.
A poplar lifts golden palms,
goldenrods pulse in a chilled breeze.

Walnuts plop crusty shells
to the ground, and a maple
burns likesacred fire.


Arrested dragged from homes,
driven at bayonet point into
stockades in a chilling rain.
Cherokees loaded like cattle

drven toward the West.
Bugle sounded, wagons rolled
and children moaned good-bye
to their mountain homes.

Snowstorms, fateful journey
over the Trail of Tears.
Twenty-one Cherokees ascending
the upper world in one night.

Victims of hunger, thinly clad,
sleeping on ground without fire.
Blinding sleet, Native Americans
herded toward th black-painted sun.


Joe-Pye weed,
Floral bouquet of fall.

Oak leaves,
braves pulsing in the wind.

Voices of the past,
I draw living waters.

embers on the pond.

A wedge of geese
honking over Brasstown.

Faded drum beats,
fog ascends to the upper world.

Brenda Kay Ledford is a native of Clay County, North Carolina. She earned her Master of Arts in Education from Western Carolina University. She studied Journalism at University of Tennessee and Tri County Community College in Murphy, NC. She is the former Creative Writing Editor of Tri-County Communictor.

Her writing has appeared in Pembroke Magazine, Asheville Poetry Review, Main Street Rag, Cappers, Appalachian Heritage Magazine, and Our State. She is a long time member of N.C.W.N., NC Poetry Society, Byron Herbert Reece Society, Georgia State Poetry Society, Tennessee Mountain Writers' Club and is listed with A Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers.


A lovely "offering" indeed is Brenda Kay Ledford's Sacred Fire, a homage to her Cherokee Indian grandmother, her Scots-Irish ancestors, and the Appalachian Mountains she calls home.
This collection details a mountain heritage from Shewbird Mountain to Hyatt Mill Creek, where "apple blossoms wash the hills" and an eagle casts its shadow over/arrowheads buried in the soil." These lines from "Tracks" exemplify both Ledford's love for this land and her appreciation of the dark underside these mountains have witnessed, as in her poem,"Removal," in which she unflinchingly describes The Trail of Tears, Cherokee "driven at bayonet point into/ stockades in achilling rain and in "Buried Memories," which notes ruins of mining town, sharecropping, and "timber stripped from bleeding hillsides." Dispite the pain and desolation present in this patchwork of Appalachian moments, Sacred Fire is in the end an uplifting book, filled with beautiful images lovingly rendered. --Maureen Ryan Griffin, award-winning poet, author, writing coach and public radio commentator in Charlotte, North Carolina.