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, June 29, 2011

WRITERS NIGHT OUT with Open Mic Reading July 8th, 2011 in Hiawassee, Georgia

For more info:  
(404) 316-8466 or 
Mountain Perk (706) 896-0504 
Featured Readers:  
Brenda Kay Ledford 
Glenda Barrett 

Open Mic:  
Sign-up at the door.  
Limit I page of poetry or prose 
for each open mic reader 

July 8, 7:00 p.m
Public invited. No Cover charge 
Mountain Perk 
Coffee House 
1390 Hwy 76E 
Hiawassee, GA 

In Chatuge Harbor Plaza 
Across from  
Towns County High School 

Join us monthly: 
2nd Fridays  
7 –9:00 p.m. 

Food! Music! 
Night Out 

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Hello Practicing Poets. In spite of the week long phone outage and internet down, I'm back. It is a shock to see what can happen in just one week away from my desk.  No readers is what happened. And that made me think seriously of "going out of business."  If you read my blog you know it is not a business. It's free to you and no pay check for me. 

I do fully understand you are seeking up to date info. My focus has been and will remain Poetry, Poets and Writers from the South and especially work by writers living in and inspired by  the Southern Appalachian Mountains. I'm interested in all things appalachian and will admit I step into the forest every once in a while, go walking by the river or might stand staring up at the full moon.   

There is a featured poet  each month each month. In June the featured poet has been Shelby Stephenson. I hope you have found time to read his poems. There have been four posts about him with poems and photos.

Another focus from me to you is THE CALL FOR POEMS. Regularly editors and publishers send me up to date calls for poems. I always share them with my readers, either in a regular post or in the right column. Posts move down quickly, as you have noted, so check regularly. Calls for poems posted on the right stay on the right until the deadline passes.

As a practicing poet, you can keep hammering away at the "best" lit mags. I encourage you to "send only your best and send only to the best,"something I learned from Kathryn Stripling Byer. Truth, southern poets seem not  in high demand at this time.  Oh yes, there was a time when the southern voice rose above all the others. Now, it is next to impossible for a southern poet to get a poem published in 
a southern based literary magazine. I encourage you to keep writing. Keep submitting. 

At this time, I open my mail and find editors looking for the best poems they can find. You do not have to be on their "cronie list" nor on their fellows and associates list.   Recently I've received calls from editors wanting  and actually seeking political poems and poems of social comment.  Until recently that  used to be - never.  

Editors of FutureCycle  Robert S.King (Georgia) and David Choriton (Arizona)  are asking for poems that show "what poets see" in our world today for an anthology on American Society. Editor Paula C. Lowe of Solo Novo in California has sent out a call for poems written in 2011 between September and December. "But that is in the future" you say. Yes, September has not arrived yet, neither has July or August.  Most of us practicing poets do not write by assignment but rather heed the call and go looking in our folder for a poem already written that will fit the call and then fine tune them more  and send.  Paula C. Lowe does not want old poems. She wants new poems  happening and written in the present tense (Sept. - December 2011) .  The guidelines are carefully spelled out below for you. If you missed them, scroll down.  Both calls were posted in June before my phone and internet went out.

More calls for poems will be posted. Stay tuned, and please leave a comment once in a while so I know you are alive and well and still practicing poetry.

A note from Shelby. He is a dear man and a funny person. Read his poems featured below in this his birth month. Humor in our writing is essential. This is only one thing Shelby Stephenson teaches us.

Nancy,  Thank you.

So many wonderful writers you are featuring.  

I picture cooler weather there.  It's hot here.

A chinch would have trouble living in a dog's navel.

Keep cool and above the frostline.


Thursday, June 23, 2011


Welcome Poetry Lovers. I imagine you will be saying that I saved the best for the last of the month. Yes, These are powerful poems. I have been  rereading and enjoying the poems of Poet Shelby Stephenson this month and I hope you have also. Leave a comment if you have time.




This place, their praise:  hill and house,
Where they have kept the earth for decades−
I am dying for the meadowlark to spill its song
This October day, naming it,
Hoping my mind might ground an image.

The plowman, his sweep spreading
Clods the way a mole might,
And the mule’s neck nodding silence except for trace-chains
Brushing a scab on her side, scrubbing burlap;
The pulling has been so long
A part of the flare her nostrils dribble
Slanting mucous beside the rows,
Closure a drowning
Surrender toward persistence
Preceding this thrusting angle to pen in furrow-time
The way the mule’s eyes weep
One fabric, women and men,
Slaves under unmarked ground
There in the Old Stephenson Cemetery ,
Boundless as the ground’s
Silence the slaves were buried in−


Coming here, I cross the stream,
Remember an old woman over a washpot,
Stirring cracklins, unrest brought low,
The tale, untold, still, its bobends
Dobbing at seed-zero

This spot, the sun on my foot,
My seat a November slant of summertime
Holding the ragged one over the cauldron,
Her fires many colors whirling centuries,
Fringes I try to place.

Into the boiling organpipe, what musicale,
Luminous vapors
Raking the hand that strokes the nostrils−
A run away mule, a beloved child,
Smaller than a Halloween ghost swaddled in leaves
Left out of a trickster’s oven overnight.
Overall the hammer-sun nails the daisies.
The soil breaks for a new house.

(Acknowledgement:  Solo CafĂ© 8 & 9)



Beside the poinsettias
Blowing out of the graveyard,
A bull, forsaken,
Suns among the granite.

Fields brown the dozer’s tread.
Wood, nails, cement, a pile of bricks−
With every hammer’s fall, a cul-de-sac.

My farmboy throws up his hands,
Hoes his row, blows his nose, rubs his neck.
Freckles forlorn his shoulders round.
Hill upon hill, ridges, mounds,
He works through hail and hell.
Streetlamps leap his face’s glow.

He roaches his hair.
The sweet surround crowns his scars.
Delusion weighs brick entrances, cars,
Moneyed ease his red neck
Wreathes, chainlinked.

They are farming houses right up to the creek.
No more skipperbugs skating and fish rolling in shallows.
The forkedtailed channelcat, pumpkinseed, rockbass, horsefish, suckers−gone−
The upsidedown leaves, limbs surfacing reflections, the little yellow and white
Butterflies bouncing at my feet!

What of this place I keep?
How shall my body

Leave the creek’s throat in my bones?

(Acknowledgement:   The Rambler)


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NEW ISSUE OF SOLO NOVO, WALL SCRAWLES Edited by Paula Lowe, with two poems by Nancy Simpson. Also, Read the New Call for Submissions and Check the Submission Guidelines.

WALL SCRAWLES from Solo Press, 

Contributors: Yosuf Warastah, Abdul Hadi IqbazadaNasir, Ahmad Noor Mohammed, Les Bares, Francesca Bell, Marvin Bell, John Bradley, John Randolph Carter, Molly Cooper, Marguerite Costigan, James Cushing, Marsha de la O, Michaelann Dimitrijevich, Rina Ferrarelli, Kathleen Flenniken, Hugh Fox, M. Frias-May, Kat Good-Schiff, Rosalee Gurrola, Michael Harris, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Jf. Jetter, Ron Koertge, Ann Lauinger, Al Maginnes, Lisa McCool-Grime, Michael McLaughlin, Stewart Mintzer, Bradley Morewood, Pranita Patel, Simon Perchik, Daniel Pravda, Vivian Faith Prescott, Doren Robbins, Lee Rossi, Melissa Roxas, Richard Schiffman, Jeanne Shannon, Nancy Simpson, Dian Sousa, Doreen Stock, Kevin Patrick Sullivan, Kelly Talbot, Eric Torgersen, Michael Torres, Florence Weinberger.
Solo Novo
v.1 Wall Scrawls
Solo Novo, v. 1
Artwork: Paula C. Lowe
Publisher: Glenna Luschei, 
Editor: Paula C. Lowe
Assistant Editor: Slyvia Alcon
Editorial Support: Winnie Wright, Jaala Thibault, Larissa Ormonde
Editorial Interns: Georgia Ferraro, Mary Kate Walker
Production and Design: Liz Carmo
Circulation: Monica Carmo, Noel Woodward, Georgia Ferraro
2011,  92 pp, $12.00
To order email info@solopress.org

Solo Novo
122 Days

Poems written  
about happenings between 
Sept 1 – Dec 31, 2011
For these four months. For these times. Get out there.  Pay attention. Put your heart on the tracks where the  future is NOW. No old stuff. No cover letters. No  attachments. No dedications. Format your work the way  you want it. All present tense. All present experience.  All about “ What’s goin’ on?” (Marvin Gaye)
At Solo Press, we choose work for two reasons. One,  it grabs us. Two, the poem adds an important voice  to the chorus of poems for a particular issue. 
Send your work later rather than earlier. We will  not respond to submissions until after the deadline.   Our team reads every poem with the care we would want  for our own work. We welcome established and emerging  poets.
Be part of the Solo Novo energy! Join us for 122 Days
Solo Novo, the all-poetry poetry journal.  
Paula C. Lowe, editor
Solo Novo poets write to be heard in our time


American Society: What Poets See (anthology)

Edited by Robert S. King and David Chorlton

The editors of FutureCycle Press are calling for poems for a new anthology. 

Read and see if you have poems that might fit. 


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Glenda Beall and Brenda Kay Ledford of Hayesville, NC will be the featured readers at Poets and Writers Reading Poems and Stories, June 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm at John C. Campbell Folk School
in Brasstown, NC.

Glenda Beall is the author of Now Might as Well Be Then (poetry) published at Finishing Line Press. She is the owner and manager of The Writing Circle, offering writing classes at her home studio.

Brenda Kay Ledford is the author of two poetry collections published at Finishing Line Press: Shew Bird Mountain and Sacred Fire. She also authored a book with her mother Blanche Ledford, Simplicity (2011).
What Charles Price says about her writing:

“In lean yet suggestive lines of verse, Brenda Kay Ledford summons vivid glimpses of a vanishing mountain world. Mule-plowed fields, Lone Star quilts, clear cut hills bleeding with erosion, cornbread crumbled in buttermilk, lye soap and bluing on wash day, the tacitum speech of hard-worked folk, simple joys and hues and textures of a specific place--Ledford's beloved home ground in Clay County, North Carolina. Here's a Matheson Cove, Brasstown, Shew Bird Mountain. Trout Cove, Hyatt's Mill Creek, Cut Worm Phillip's store in Hayeville. Anyone who loves this place will see it here.” --Charles Price

Click here to go directly to Brenda Kay Ledford's site

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Do you want to take a week long writing class at the John C. Campbell Folk School?

Hello writers, especially you practicing poets. I recommend the upcoming writing class to be taught by Rosemary Royston, July 10-16, 2011. The focus will be on HOMOR IN WRITING. This is a class that I scheduled before I resigned as Resident Writer of the folk school.  I know Rosemary well and know her ability.  She has been writing and publishing for years and earned her MFA in Writing at Spalding University. Her own poetry chapbook is presently being published. She is at this time, one of the strongest instructors teaching at the folk school. A one week class can be intense, for sure, but with humor mixed in,
how can you go wrong in your writing and your life? I predict such a week will change your writing life in all the good ways you would hope.

Pre Register now.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Recognition" by Shelby Stephenson - POET OF THE MONTH JUNE, 2011

 by Shelby Stephenson 

     I'm an ordinary man. I am with you in the shade.  I feel 
the edge of lying back against the bark and I view the shaking 
sun on the lake, the lay of the horizon. 
     My frayed feelings swell and swallow up the least 
utterance reaching out where the road and the water move 
together.  The relating debris scatters enough tiny reckonings 
to force off  aremembrance of tomorrows, the clouds of the 
brows, a meeting of blue highs, thighs, the setting sun in the 
grimace on the runner's face when she trips and falls.  What 
is an elegy but the going for the finish line that begins the race 
      The resistances come out willingly.  I was dreaming 
of getting some place and looking back and saying, "This is it," 
but no, that's just the way the cast light plays the tin roof, lays 
corners smooth as spheres or the slimber reaches of 
      Why can't I put simple pleasures in the world, using 
ticky!tacky, an August ice!sale, say, a leaf slipping down to 
roll the dust imperceptibly, a scraggly attempt at the end of 
the road, a detour to establish a reality of things with the 
knowledge that the words I should have said long ago I have 
not said and cannot, Lord, cannot. 
     We brush and sweat, wash and wet our bloom.  
We enter that part of ourselves cast aside to drift.  There doubt 
settles.There our splendor goes unnoticed, for we are a scanty 
piece that stretches into regions where the spirit and the body 
are one and the tomatoes on the vine wait to be picked and 
eaten. I want to become a plain and let your crop grow in my 
approaches to the weather, but I cannot account for the purpose 
of the simple life I did not choose. 
      You have some idea of my revival, but I cannot tell you to 
what extent my bones ache in the curve, a jar in the arm resting
comfortably on the sofa. That you will understand is my wish,
if only for a moment when my hands lie in my lap like dried okra.

Previously published in Southern Poetry Review

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Finishing Line Press Chapbook Competition Deadline June 30, 2011

Hello Practicing Poets, 

The Topic of publishing a poetry chapbook came up a number of times during the class I taught this spring at John C. Campbell Folk School ( April 2011) and in my poetry writing workshop that ended last Monday at Institute for Continuing Learning, at Young Harris College.

 For my students who are practicing poets who have been writing for a length of time and have worked at building a first poetry collection, here is  the call for manuscripts you should read and  consider. It might be the press for you. Five of my former students have had their chapbook published at Finishing Line Press. 

We read general submissions year round.  Please visitwww.finishinglinepress.com  for submission guidelines, and contest announcements and results.
A prize of $1,000 and publication for a chapbook-length poetry collection.
Open to all. Previous chapbook or full-length publication does not disqualify. International entries are welcome.
Multiple submissions are accepted.
All entries will be considered for publication. The top-ten finalists will be offered publication.
Submit up to 26 pages of poetry, PLUS bio, acknowledgments, SASE and cover letter with a $15 entry fee (pay by check, money order or online to pay using your credit card)
Deadline: June 30, 2011 (POSTMARK).

Manuscript must be a paper copy.  We do not accept email submissions.
Send to
Open Competition
Finishing Line Press
P O Box 1626
Georgetown, KY 40324

Monday, June 6, 2011

Byron Herbert Reece Society Held Their 8th Annual Meeting on June 4, 2011, at The Restored Reece Farm and Heritage Center in the North Georgia Mountains

The crowd numbered about one hundred, including
poet and Young Harris College English Professor Janice Townley Moore.

James Clark and friends sang Byron Herbert Reece's poems set to music.  My favorite of the songs they sang was "Lest the Lonesome Bird" a ballad that I choose and featured when editing  the anthology Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, Stories, Essays and Poems By Writers Living In and Inspired By  the Southern Appalachian Mountains, published last summer, dedicated to the memory of Reece.
Poet Valerie Nieman of Greensboro, NC won the First Annual Byron Herbert Reece Poetry Competition,  and she read her winning poem.

Seriously Dangerous (new poetry collection Main Street Rag 2011) Helen Losse




Heart of a Mountain Woman, June 3, 2011
This review is from: Living Above the Frost Line: New and Selected Poems (Paperback)

Nancy Simpson's book of new and selected poems, out last year from Carolina Wren Press, covers a lifetime as woman and poet, from 1977 to 2009. 

Early on, Simpson takes up the image of water, water "in which memories converge." In "Water in the Highway," she writes that "Water on the pavement moves before me/Witch water, I say, as though some sorceress waits/snapping her crooked fingers." Yet this water is real, whether visible or not, and she writes of driving home, "knowing as I go/I will have to cross water to get there." Crossing water, in many traditions, is a way to shake off ghosts, and spirits too pervade these poems, from those dead in wrecks and dead in war to those who accepted death in readiness for communion with God. 

These poems sing of solitude, that lovely twin of loneliness, that has the poet declare she will "sit here until someone tells me different,/afraid everything is going to fall." In another poem, Simpson writes that "Sometimes you get what you asked for,/to be left alone," the opening to a poem that ends, "Rubble from lives in one lifetime passes before me./This is the end, the new start,/rock I remember, and clay soft beneath my feet." 

And these poems sing of family. I was particularly taken by "Sharing the Bed With Mother" in which the women make themselves narrow, and sleep on the stones of lies. "This could go on all night,/my wanting to build a bridge/and tear it down, and build it back again." 

Ultimately, however, it is about the mountains. Images of soil and rock and weather shape these poems, and they are adorned by trees and flowers and the living creatures that make up a beautiful but demanding place. Simpson echoes Whittier in "Storm," as a snow storm closes out the world and she learns that "there are things worse than being all alone in a blizzard." 

The title poem closes the book, and it is a poem of affirmation - against all odds, against war and abandonment and loss and struggle, the writer returns to the image of what will, or won't grow above the frost line. "Along the mulched path, it's clear/experts are wrong. Red nasturtiums bloom./Here in my garden/knockout roses still bloom their hearts out."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Distinguished North Carolina poet, Shelby Dean Stephenson Named Poet of the Month, June 2011. Let us celebrate his life and his poetry in this his birth month.

Shelby Stephenson, is author of
Family Matters: Homage to July, the 
Slave Girl winner of the coveted Bellday 
Poetry Prize for 2008.  For 
Dr. Stephenson, a veteran of thirty years 
in the department of English at Pembroke
College and longtime editor of 
UNCP’s distinguished literary journal, 
Pembroke Magazine,  Family Matters makes his
10th poetry collection publication and his fifth major 
award.  Stephenson reports 
that the idea for Family Matters came—as 
so many of them do—serendipitously, yet 
almost inevitably.  While leafing through 
materials laid out on his sister’s desk (she 
had been researching Stephenson family 
history), he came upon a document he 
found both deeply disturbing and im- 
mensely inspiring: an 1850 deed con- 
firming his great-great-grandfather’s sale 
of a ten-year-old slave girl named “July.”  
(See list of book publications below)

Poems by Shelby Dean Stephenson will be featured throughout the month
of June here. Read, enjoy and leave your comment.


for Ronald H. Bayes

"Imagine the enlightenment or ignorance of our
nature in a figure."–Socrates, "The Allegory of the Cave,"

I believe in an aristocracy
which has a grease pit of autocracy
with one supreme monkey autonomous under us all,
including a little sideshow
symbolic of nothing I can imagine,
constructed so the matter loses charisma,
energy lying limp as a goose's neck on a block
after the axe has fallen into the collected aims of concept and concussion,
where all statements of creation are wrong except the one
stoical holding out for the "I."
Appearances are phenomenal,
positive and pragmatic as the old
predestination which holds me in a sling of fate.
Echoes lead to other voices, other rooms.
Home is where peripheries are.
Previously published inCairn)



  Now one time I had an apple orchard
And time was apple blossom white
                        With a heaven made in treecrotches.
                        The mules spraddled their legs, blinked pink aftermaths of pissing.
                        Roadapples I stored for bases in the yard.

Across the dirtroad the garden lay,
Paradise of okra, peanuts, gardenpeas, squash, tomatoes,
                        Maytle Samantha’s slip falling below her hem,
                                    Cucumbers, potatoes, radishes, turnips, butterbeans, collards,
                        My bare feet hopping clods.

The hedges were handsome as the doves
I stalked with my Daisy:
            Hi yo Silver
                        Saddled me
            And we rode from gummy, tobaccoblooming fields

The ten miles to town−
Warehouses−the smell of cured tobacco
            I chewed in those suncured days
                        The Neuse River rippled with shad,
            The farmers on the banks working their seines.

My seat, a burlap sheet torn in two−Middle Creek!−
Leafboats sank in puddles kicking round
            Beaver Dam where flapping tails went silly
                        And teeth
            Gnawed tulip poplars down.

Thicksmellingrich with cornshucking and fall’s fodder
I stripped and tied in bundles
            Shocks beside haystacks,
                        The caves underneath where I jumped a rabbit
            And sat to watch for the orchard boy.


            It is a roundabout sleight
January whiffs over hogs,
The boy’s nose a running sight.
Dangles over dogs
Howling for a morsel
 Previously published in Cave Wall) 

 Publications and Prizes as listed in Poet and Writers Directory
Books:Family Matters: Homage to July, the Slave Girl (Bellday Books, 2008), Possum (Bright Hill Press, 2004), Greatest Hits (Pudding House Publications, 2002), The Persimmon Tree Carol (Juniper Press, 2002), Fiddledeedee (The Bunny & The Crocodile Press, 2001), Poor People (Nightshade Press, 1998), Plankhouse (North Carolina Wesleyan College Press, 1993)

Chapbooks:Possum (Bright Hill Press, 2004)
Journals:Bits, BLINK: A Little Magazine of Little Poems, Carolina Quarterly, Hudson Review, Poetry Northwest

Friday, June 3, 2011


I Hear the River Call My Name

--by Mary Ricketson

Hiawassee River winds
where I go to rest my mind
from a hard day of work.
I make my way down to the river.
I walk along the grassy bank.

I gaze at ripples.
Granite boulders grip my mind.
I marvel at their strength.
Branches, leaves, and bits
of trash float downstream.

A steady current gentles
through my mind.
A rush of water splashes
up against an edge of right black dirt
and runs crystal clear.

Dark ripples tear
through the middle.
My raucous thoughts hide
like wild trout hide in the deep.

I slow my pace.
Sounds of running water
rhythm through my thoughts.
I hear the river call my name
and I know what to do.
One by one, I cast my burdens
and watch them float downstream.

from I Hear the River Call My Name
Finishing Line Press, 2007