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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."

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.

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