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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."

Monday, July 1, 2013


Living Above the Frost Line Celebrates Barbara Groce  as POET OF THE MONTH for the month of July 2013.

Barbara's poems have been published widely in magazines such as PegasusJournal of the Kentucky State Poetry Society, Reach os Song and Wild Goose Poetry Review. She has three  published collections of poetry, most recently The Dancing Years from Cardinal House Publishing, (2012) Nashville, Tennessee .

Barbara Groce was born in St. Charles, West Virginia and moved to Eastern North Carolina at age nine. She  graduated from the University of NC at Greensboro, earned a Master of Education from East Carolina University and taught in the NC School System in Charlotte. She lives now with her husband Bill in Morganton, Georgia.

Upon moving to  the North Georgia mountains in 1994, Barbara Groce  turned to poetry as an outlet  for childhood and lifetime memories pressing for release. She attended a number of writer's conferences and  seminars and studied with Gene Hirsch, Nancy Simpson, and Ellie Dodson. Most recently she studied with Pulitzer Prize nominee  Stellasue Lee. Barbara is a member of the Georgia Poetry Society, North Carolina Writers network, The Kentucky State Poetry  Society, Shallow Enders and other local writer groups. 

Barbara's poems are reprinted here with her permission and are from The Dancing Years.

                         Hills of Virginia

The coal train, its whistle a haunting wail,
     each 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.

In heavy rain the creek became a roaring
     Mountain Lion. Trees, tables, chairs
or outhouses washed away,
     back in those hills of Virginia.

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’ all time 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 untill 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.

            See Bobby Run

On the hill behind Grandma’s house
the gentle wind of spring whispered
through the greening trees
as a gang of us cousins searched
for budding flowers, heart shaped
rocks, weeds never seen before.

From the corner of my eye, I saw
my brother Bobby walking down the hill
toward the house, picking up speed
faster and faster with each step.
Grandma and five aunts flew
from their rocking chairs, calling, “Stop! Stop!”
to him, but too late because
he reached the pace of a race horse,
did a flip and landed on his back.
“I don’t have anything broken,” he said.

“You scared us half to death,”
they kept saying
the rest of the afternoon as Bobby
sat on the porch with them
eating his fill of vanilla ice cream.

                        Present Past

My Grandmother Liz

could square dance and two step
better than anyone else in Pike County.
She smiled at every partner,
but told me only one of them
caused her heart to soar.
She saw him last waving good-by
from the steps of the train
that steamed into the great World War.

She moves with grace at eighty-five,
but has not danced since she was young.
She naps in the old rocking chair,
a quilt in progress on her lap,
her skin fine and crinkled
as a page from our Bible,
eyes the same blue as veins
in her hands-those hands which
raised six children, coddled my Grandpa,
a miner, who drank and gambled
away what was theirs.

I know she dreams of dancing years,
fiddler’s songs and two strong arms.
Drops roll from her eyes, down her face,
fall into the folds of the quilt,
and become part of it, like her life,
filled with stitches and tears.

first published in
Wild Goose Poetry Review

            Live the Moment

We delight in love and youth.
Savor it and live the thrill.
Spice up your life with vermouth.
Don’t let your days stand still.

Savor it and live the thrill.
Don’t miss a dance of chance to sing.
Don’t let your days stand still.
Don’t let anyone clip your wings.

Don’t miss a dance or chance to sing.
Give and get kisses and hugs.
Don’t let anyone clip your wings.
Kick up your heels and cut a rug.

Give and get kisses and hugs.
Don’t let anyone spoil your day.
Kick up your heels and cut a rug.
Remember to laugh, enjoy your play.

Feed your sweet tooth, plant daffodils.
Spice up your life with sweet vermouth.
After a while its all downhill.
We delight in love and youth.

I first met Barbara as an accomplished poet
at John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC.
I saw her immediately  as dedicated to the practice
of poetry. I recommend you buy her book.

All of these poems are from The Dancing Years.
If you liked them, please leave a comment or
send Barbara a message.

"Poems of Memory and Medaphor, Dancing Years stands as a memorial to a woman's lifetime in the south. Unblinking, these poems seem to see all and hide from nothing." --Scott Owen

Want to buy a copy of Dancing Years?
Purchase from the author . 
$14.95 including shipping
Barbara Groce
PO Box 746
Morganton, Georgia 30569


Anonymous said...


It's been a while since I've seen you or read your poems. I'm happy that Nancy posted these. I enjoyed them and hope our paths cross again before long.

Best Wishes,


KarenPH said...

So nice to see Barbara and her poems here. Her descriptions always paint a picture I can see. Like Robert said, it's been a while since I've seen Barbara or her poems and hope our paths cross again soon too.
Thanks, Nancy.
- Karen Paul Holmes

Maren O. Mitchell said...

Nancy, thank you for showcasing Barbara and her poetry - she's the real thing!

Glenda C. Beall said...

Barbara's poems dance in my mind long after reading them. It is good to see them here for more people to enjoy. Lovely book.

Nancy Simpson said...

Thanks to Robert, Karen, Maren and Glenda for your
comments. I appreciate your interest and I am sure Barbara appreciates it too.