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, January 30, 2011


Advance Praise for Living Above the Frost Line

“NANCY SIMPSON’S POEMS SPEAK WITH A VOICE that knows where it comes from, honoring that place and the web of relationships that exist within it. She can make the world shimmer in a single line. She can break your heart. She can sing. She does what a poet has to do, wake the reader into a fresh vision of reality.” —KATHRYN STRIPLING BYER, North Carolina Poet Laureate Emerita
“HARD-WON, SOMETIMES HARD-BITTEN, the poems of Living Above the Frost Line emerge from the page like daffodils from a snow bank: colorful, hardy and defiant. It is a privilege to be admitted into Nancy Simpson’s intense vision of the world, a pleasure to stand for a while in its light.” —FRED CHAPPELL, North Carolina Poet Laureate Emeritus
LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE showcases the arc of a life lived richly and rendered in finely made poems of heartbreak—and beauty. Nancy Simpson possesses a wise world view grounded in and informed by the intricacies of place, offering all of us the great haven poetry can be in hands as capable as hers.” —CLAUDIA EMERSON, winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
“REPLETE WITH A QUIET WISDOM, Nancy Simpson’s poems are powerfully focused on the landscape and the people who inhabit this giving, fragile land she cherishes but cannot always protect. The poet wastes nothing as she trains her vision on both the ordinary and the sublime, ‘having learned the leaves of trees, /the language of ants, not much scares her.’ Nancy Simpson shows us how to learn to love and forgive the world in poems that are always wise and generous of heart.” —JUDITH ORTIZ COFER
“IN LIVING ABOVE THE FROSTLINE, Nancy Simpson takes us to the top of a Carolina mountain and gives us a clear lens through which to mark the seasons of a lifetime. These poems reflect the history of a place and the hardy people who know that ‘nothing is certain except death.’ Hardship and grief, yes, but also friendship, humor, compassion, and the electrifying power of imagination. Through image and insight, Simpson’s mountain becomes a sustaining force, and we rejoice in the parallel certainty of rebirth.” —JUDITH KITCHEN
NANCY SIMPSON’s poems have been published widely in journals such as Prairie SchoonerThe Georgia ReviewTar River PoetryThe Southern Poetry Review and Kalliope. Her previous books are Across Water and Night Student. In 1991, she received the North Carolina Arts Council Writing Fellowship for Poetry. A longtime member of the North Carolina Writers Network, she co-founded Netwest to serve writers in the nine westernmost counties and Qualla Boundary. She founded the Clay County Arts Council Annual Poetry Contest for Middle School, High School and Adults. For the past fifteen years, she has worked to develop the Writing Program as Resident Writer at the John C. Campbell Folk School.

Nancy Simpson
Living Above the Frost Line: New and Selected Poems
ISBN 978-0-932112-61-3
Laureate Series (2010)
Press Release
$15.95 Retail – $14.35 Sale


Our Dear One Darnell Arnoult is featured on The Writers Almanac reading her poem "Psychology Today."


from Radio - The Writers Almanac with Garrison Keilor
featuring today a poem read by Darnell Arnoult. The poem
"Psychology Today" is from her book What Travels With Us
(2005 LSU Press)

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Brenda Kay Ledford will appear on the program, "The Common Cup," over Windstream Communications' channel 4 cable television.

The program will feature Brenda for two weeks: Monday, January 31--Friday, February 11, 2011. The show airs three times each day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at: 9:30 a.m., 4:00 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.

Jim Geer is the host of "The Common Cup." He interviewed Brenda about her book, SIMPLICITY, that she co-authored with her mother, Blanche L. Ledford.

Windstream Communications is a local cable TV station that covers northern Georgia and western North Carolina. It also provides Internet and telephone service. For information, go to: www.windstream.com

Brenda and Blanche's book, SIMPLICITY, is available at the Book Nook, Blairsville, GA; Cherokee County Museum, Murphy, NC; and Phillips & Lloyd Book Shop, Hayesville, NC; or online:http://catawbapublishing.com/bookstore/book/179.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

WISHING FOR SPRING Poet of the Month Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin TWO MORE POEMS

It's been a pleasure to welcome poet Jeannette
Cabanis-Brewin to visit us here above the 
frost line as Poet of the month of January in the
year 2011.  Thanks to all who visited. I especially
thank you who stayed long enough to leave a
comment.  --Nancy Simpson

Joe Kisses Jan in the Woods: Memorial Day 1967

Tulip poplar
dropping its innocent flowers to spin
on the current—
cantaloupe, mint and cream
cool and tender.

They’re spinning still
coiling remembrance around
their hearts of creamy pistil,
creamsicle petals

round as your mouth
pressed to my forehead
the kiss
opening me like a flower
rippling through flesh turned water

something blooming
from that splash of lips
on my untried brow
and the sap rising

 (This poem was written in 1994 and was 
the first of her poems to be published. It was
written in a poetry class taught by Newt Smith
at WCU who used the prompt - "first kiss".
Jeannette writes -- "It's kind of funny to me now
that it is just as much about the tulip poplar 
flowers  as it is about the boy. Guess I have 
always been focused more on trees than on people. 
Is that a bad thing? (LOL)"

"Joe Kisses Jan..." was her first published poem,
Nomad 1995, Western Carolina Univeristy.

Cross-Quarter Day
Something stirring, deep. Day
dawns a minute early, spilling
yellow light across the field, sparking
fires in the frost-crystals on fallow rows.
Next to a grizzled nanny, two new lives 
quiver on cold new legs, blink east: 
What’s this?
The seed stirs. The badger turns
in her dreams. All these women
to-ing and fro-ing between worlds,
Persephone, Brigid, Demeter, 
holding up candles, calling out 
to one another, it’s enough
 to wake the dead.
Crocus opens slow cobalt eyes. Shhhh
says the sap sleeping in the sarvis tree.
Not yet.

Cross Quarter Day from PATRIATE.

PATRIATE  (Chapbook) won the 2007 Chapbook Competiton
at Long Leaf Press.

Want a copy of Patriate? Buy it at City Lights Bookstore. Click below.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

REYNOLDS PRICE February 1, 1933 - January 20, 2011

Reynolds Price, acclaimed North Carolina novelist and story writer died in Durham, NC, January 20, 2011. He was 77 years old.The cause of death was complications from a heart attack. 

Although Reynolds Price had been a paraplegic for more than 30 years (from spinal cancer 1984) he continued to write. He was one of America’s most prolific writers. He was an American novelist, dramatist, essayist and James B. Duke Professor of English at Duke University.
His first novel, A Long and happy Life  was published in 1962.
Other publications:
The Names and Faces of Heroes (1963)
A Generous Man (1966)
Love and Work ( 1968)
Permanent Errors ( 1970)
Things Themselves (1972)
The Surface of Earth (1975) (part one of the A Great Circle
trilogy of novels aka The Mayfield Trilogy
Early Dark (1977)
A Palpable God (1978) (translations from the Old and New Testaments)
The Source of Light (1981) (part two of A Great Circle trilogy.
Vital Provisions (poems 1982)
Mustian (1983)
Private Contentment (1984 a television play)
KateVaiden (1986)
The Laws of Ice (poems, 1986)
A Common Room ( 1987)
Good Hearts ( 1988)
Clear Pictures ( memoir, 1990)
The Tongues of Angels (1990)
The Use of Fire (poems, 1990)
New Music ( trilogy of plays, 1990)
The Foreseeable Future (stories, 1991)
Blue Calhoun (1992)
Full Moon (play, 1993)
The Collected Stories (1993)
A Whole New Life (memoir describing his survival of spinal cancer, 1994)
The Promise of Rest (part three of the A Great Circle trilogy, 1995)
Three Gospels (Translation of Mark and John, with an introductory essay, 1996)
The Collected Poems (1997)
Roxanna Slade ( 1998)
Letter to a  Man in the Fire: Does God Exist and Does He Care? (epistolary essay, 1999)
A Singular Family: Rosacoke and Her Kin (1999)
Feasting the Heart (52 essays National Public Radio’s program All Things Considered)
Learning a Trade: A Craftsman’s Notebook, 1955-1997 (2000)
A Perfect Friend (children’s book, 2000)
Nobel Norfleet (2002)
A Serious Way of Wondering: The Ethics of Jesus Imagined (2003)
The Good Priest’s Son ( 2005)
Letter to a Godchild: Concerning Faith (2006)
Ardent Spirits: Leaving Home, Coming Back (memoir)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"There is a Side to the Chicken-Human Relationship that is Deep and Quite Serious," Says POET OF THE MONTH Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin

Monday, January 17, 2011
Hello Jeannette, I'm still snowed in, but at last the snow is melting. Please send more poems, any other info, and another photo if you wish. --Nancy Simpson
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Ok, sure thing. I"m attaching a shaped poem: I hope you can do this on the blog. It is going to be in the forthcoming Spring edition of the Great Smokies Review, published by UNCA. It's a poem that is part of my new project, which is writing an entire chapbook about my chickens. This makes people laugh when I tell them but actually there is a side to the chicken-human relationship that is deep and quite serious ... the attached poem touches on this. 

One Thing
At Zipingpu Ferry,
the news photographer snapped
them escaping the earthquake in Sichuan:
the man with a face you long to turn away from,
a landscape seared and flooded with grief. He’s wailing
some words you in your safe house cannot think of, the dirty
 jacket he’s wearing is all he brought away, except for the girlchild
asleep on his breast. Her face, though streaked with grime, is cherubic,
the cheek sweet as a cup of milk and you thank Heaven she has at last,
exhausted,  turned her back on the broken world.  The smooth and
central magic of the picture – of our world – is in the delicate cup
of her hand: a blush- brown egg — the one thing she has
held onto, even in sleep.   Its weight and curve are a
 world still unbroken,  where plenty was daily,
nested safe in her pocket.  Now it’s a meal
or a memory or – if she can keep it
warm enough long enough –
a future

-- Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin

(In Dujiangyan, a hard-hit city, right, a girl held an egg as her father carried her to safety.)

Here is a link to where readers can see the photo it describes:
My future son-in-law Zao Wang sent me the link to the photo; he was actually in China working on a documentary about the earthquake relief efforts when he ran across it. 

I also have a pair of little poems which are unpublished, that are part of the same project.
Still as an egg she broods
over her future
and mine:
the embryonic breakfasts
of the years to come and oh -
so much more - the delight
of chicks toddling tiptoe,
tiny winglets outstretched.
The ancient history we share
brims in her goldeneye
as she regards me in silence
and waits. Will there be
a new world?
So true and constant 
a shape it means the word
for itself: ovoid.
So inert, in ranks of twelve
like the disciples asleep
on the ground all night
at Gethsemane.
So silent, and very like
a rock. Except
one morning, broken -
and here is a being
perfect and light.
                                - Easter, 2009

Monday, January 17, 2011

FULL WOLF MOON January 19, 2011

Look skyward.  January’s moon, known as the Full Wolf Moon is filling fast and will reach fullness on January 19, 2011. The Full Wolf Moon got its name from the deep snows of winter with wolf packs howling hungrily outside Indian villages.
Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States kept track of the seasons. They studied the moon and gave each full moon a distinctive name. The name they gave the moon was used throughout the entire month. There was some variation in the moon names, but  basically they are the same names used throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. European settlers followed that custom and created some of their own names.
In year 2011, with deep snows and the harsh winter of both the southeast and northeast, it is easy to understand and to celebrate how Full Wolf Moon got its name.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

TWO POEMS BY NANCY SIMPSON from Living Above the Frost Line

Grief Loses Its Grip

First a crooked smile,  
a giggle, then there comes the urge
to utter words, I'm back
One laugh emits so strangely
it almost hurts, a horse laugh.
When was it I changed direction,
turned around?  Yesterday,
a serene smile and humming
as I drove to the store for bread,

The absence of sorrow feels best 
in winter on the first day of a new year.
Joy. The mundane dead.
A friend arrives with news. I learn
all I missed. We drive through the valley,
looking up, nearly ecstatic,
my laughter resounding in witness to
a violet splash, sunlight streaming
across purple mountains near home.

From the Top of the Mountain
   in memory of Barbara Simpson Askew

Against my will the Everglades burn.
Smoke blows through the portico
and heat filters in through the window screen.
That is the scene the day you started 
to die, Sister, and why I say no
to a road, a highway so humid 
and long, it took a lifetime to leave.

I tried comparing the sentimental 
and the real,  but I don't know
what happened. Proximity is my problem.
If we talked, sipping coffee, saying
what humidity is like, thick air, unmerciful heat,
maybe I could  remember more
Perspective comes from being high,

looking as far into blackness
as my eyes can see, so I rise,
years, miles, reduce the volume
of your wheezes,
erase the whole neighborhood
the day men spread shells on our sand road,
forget they covered every shell with tar.

I only want to remember the last time
you came to my house for a visit.
New Year's Eve. Our party lasted
until Monday, enough snow to cover the leaves.
You laughed at me, a flatlander come to live
on a mountain, how I moved up, teased me
in your girl voice asking, How high are we?

(These poems are reprinted from 
Selected and New Poems published 2010
 at Carolina Wren Press. This first book in the new
Laureate Series was chosen by Laureate
Kathryn Stripling Byer.

Order from publisher Carolina Wren Press

Friday, January 14, 2011

W.S. Merwin Poem was Read at the Memorial Service for Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona Jan.12, 2011.

 Dear Nancy,

This message speaks to the inherent power of poetry, how we reach for necessary words at times when any words are difficult to find.

The recent memorial service in Tucson concluded with a reading of W.S. Merwin's poem  "To the New Year."
We share this poem with you and wish you peace in the New Year.
Copper Canyon Press

To the New Year
With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible

—W.S. Merwin, from Present Company
 "To the new Year" was read at the close of the
memorial service by University of Arizona President
Robert N. Shelton

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jeanette Cabanis-Brewin is POET OF THE MONTH OF JANUARY 2011

from Patriate – two wintery January poems
by Jeanette Cabanis-Brewin

Snowday Quartet
A river
of air flows
above the river. As sky
lives on the surface of water
another life, so the life of water
reflects in frozen air, streaming.
When the river ducks her head
beneath the bridge, her airy sister
leaps lightly over, invisible except
that she bears the snow, strewing
whitewater blackice
across my path.

wild carrots tatting
a winter crop of lace for their Queen
each brittle brown chalice fills with it
and with a peace
undisturbed by the commerce of bees.

on each blackiced twig
snow piles to a certain depth
then wisely falls,
letting go of what can-
not in safety be borne,
feeling the relief of

see us    fading back to no-color,
to sepiatone, to black
and white images,
a wonderful life.
we do less
and what we do—chop wood, light
fire, heat water—is briefly

To the Bear Killed Last Night on Flat Gap

I never saw you.

You appeared, loping
            through the neighbor’s raspberries,
            standing up beside the spring to observe her passing car.

You were seen at dawn, swimming
            the Tuckaseigee River, but not by me.

You left your signature everywhere
            on my world:
            dead pines clawed naked
            poke bushes flattened, stripped of berries
            plum branches broken down to the ground
            wasp nests scooped from the earth.

I learned to read
            the way your life was writ            next to mine.

Forgive me, neighbor. I lay awake
            and listened as you were hounded
            to your death.

The hills around the house echoed with it,
            and with what was silent there:
                        your lonely sacrifice.

Like the Levite, I crossed over the road
            into sleep with my hands clean.

Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin, a business writer and editor by day, writes for a variety of print and online publications on business topics, and has been co-editor or co-author of several business books, including two winners of the Project Management Institute’s literature award. But in her real life, her poetry has been published in The Nomad, the Atlanta Review, and Appalachian Heritage, in the anthologies Tree Magic (SunShine Press, 2004), The Gift of Experience (Atlanta Review, 2005), Immigration, Emigration, Diversity (Chapel Hill Press, 2005), and The Moveable Nest (Helicon Press, 2007). She was a finalist in the Atlanta Review’s poetry competition in 2000 and 2005, and in the 2000 Greensboro Awards. Her chapbook, Patriate, won the Longleaf Press Open Chapbook Competition and was published by Longleaf in 2007. She lives and works in the forks of Blackbird Branch on the eastern slope of Cullowhee Mountain in the company of a dozen or so Cuckoo Marans chickens, a few hundred thousand Italian honeybees, two dogs and one husband.

Want a copy of Patriate? Buy it at City Lights Bookstore. Click here.


Published at Long Leaf Press

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow in the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Folks are Slipping and Sliding in Atlanta

  I'm snowed in again. This is not all that unusual for the first few weeks of January, but I can't help but think about it. It looks like a repeat of last winter, which was extreme. It looks like "White Christmas" without the decorations.  It's  bit much for our part of the southern Appalachian mountains to have snow in Dec., Jan., Feb. and March like last winter.

 Already this season we have had snow in Nov., twice in December including a grand White Christmas. Here on January 11th, we've already had additional snow three times: It snowed Friday and covered the ground, but melted and I was able to go do my exercise. It snowed six inches during the night on  Sunday, Monday (Jan10) more and snow to wintery mix today on Tuesday, Nov. 11.  My drive down the mountain is impassible. I don't know when I'll get out of here. It makes me think of the true Appalachian people. They endured because they are strong.

Jauary 10, 2011. That is not dandruff on Sasha's coat. It's snowing on her inside the covered deck. She loves it. She wears
several extra coats.

In Atlanta, where I have a number of loved ones, it is treacherous, even now.   Yesterday, Jan.10th,  I sat in front of the t.v. all day hoping my children there were safe. The announcers kept saying "first snow".

At this moment, Nov. 11th, the t.v. is blaring news of Atlanta's Interstate highways blocked. Semi trucks jack knifed and a swarm of trucks have sat at standstill for over twenty four hours.  It looks like one giant truck stop. The word treacherous is being used over and over again by every announcer.

Back on the homefront, I have everything I need, including water, food, heat and four furry friends.

This is an adorable puppy that was lost, stranded on the mountain several times this winter. She has spent more than one night in my house on freezing nights.  The first night I let her in was in December when it was five degrees.  Now, I suspect  she thinks she lives here.  Below, Nugget and Smoky aka MR. Whiskers.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thinking of W.D. Snodgrass Born January 5, 1926. WANT TO HEAR HIM READ POEM?

W. D. Snodgrass
AKA William De Witt Snodgrass
Born: 5-Jan-1926
Birthplace: Wilkinsburg, PA
Died: 13-Jan-2009
Location of death: Madison County, NY
Cause of death: Cancer - Lung
Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Poet
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Heart's Needle
Military service: US Navy (WWII, Pacific theater)
Wife: Kathleen Browne (wife #4)
    Pulitzer Prize for Poetry 1960 for Heart's Needle
    Guggenheim Fellowship 
Author of books:
Heart's Needle (
1959, poetry)
After Experience (
1968, poetry)
Remains (
1970, poetry)
In Radical Pursuit (
1975, criticism)
The Führer Bunker: A Cycle of Poems in Progress (
1977, poetry)
If Birds Build with Your Hair (
1979, poetry)
D.D. Byrde Calling Jennie Wrenn (
1984, poetry)
W.D.'s Midnight Carnival (
1988, poetry)
The Death of Cock Robin (
1989, poetry)
The Führer Bunker: The Complete Cycle (
1995, poetry)
To Sound Like Yourself: Essays on Poetry (
2003, criticism)
Want to hear W.D. Snodgrass read "April Inventory?"
from Poet.org, Courtesy of The Academy of American Poets.