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."

Friday, November 22, 2013


Fifty years ago to the day, shortly before my 25th birthday, I was a young wife and mother in my Tampa, Florida home, caring for my sons aged four and five. We were playing in our front yard, when a neighbor yelled from across the street that President Kennedy had been shot. I hurried my sons into the house and turned on the tv. Yes, shot and we soon learned that he was dead. President Kennedy had recently been to Tampa and I remember how I feared for his life while he was there. I admired the president, but I knew there were many who greatly hated him. Still, when I heard that he was dead, it was unbelievable. I called my husband at his office and told him. When he repeated my message to others there, I heard the office secretary shout, “Yaaaay!”  It hurt me deeply that anyone would cheer at the death of our president. 

He had been a good and inspiring leader. I loved and revered President Kennedy and remembered how he handled the Cuban Missile Crisis a few years earlier while we were living in our Miami home.  My own family discovered missiles mounted along a canal where we sometimes walked.  I remember the day we were led there by my young nephew who had first discovered the missiles. They were situated a distance away from us, and at first I could see nothing. My nephew kept saying, “Wait. Wait.” While we stood there, looking, the missiles rose from underground. My husband and I finally determined they were on a US military base north of Miami that was carefully guarded. Within days of seeing the missiles, Russia was found to be mounting missiles in Cuba aimed at the USA, aimed at Miami where we lived. It was a fearful time. It was during the height of the cold war, and most US citizens knew there were nuclear missiles on earth enough to kill every man, woman and child three times over. 

On Television photos of the Russian missiles in Cuba where shown over and over. I remember well those days riding the bus to my job at The Credit Bureau of Greater Miami downtown, my toddler and infant son at home with the baby sitter who was my sister. In Miami, whether on the bus headed to work or at lunch break with my fellow workers, because of the Cuban Missile Crisis, people carried transistor radios. Everywhere on the streets of Miami we saw convoys of American soldiers. Only four blocks from my father’s house, the US military camped out in the Orange Bowl for weeks. It was scary. On tv, President Kennedy declared that the US would board the Russian ships that were known to be carrying more missiles to add to the ones already set up in Cuba. I feared war would come at any moment. 

Finally one evening we watched President Kennedy on tv telling the Russians they could not bring any more missiles to Cuba. He told them to turn their carrier around. Back at work the next day, everyone said how much they admired President Kennedy. On transistor radios we learned our US Military boarded the Russian carrier and ordered them to turn around. In the evening, back in our own homes, on tv we watched film of the Russian ships turning around headed back to where they had come from. We were told the Russians  dismantled their missiles already in Cuba that were aimed at the USA. I never heard one word about the American missiles I had seen with my own eyes lined up along the canal bank north of  Miami which I assumed were aimed at Cuba. I always believed President Kennedy was a good president. He stood strong against the Russians. 

Most of all, I saw his greatness in his effort to lay the groundwork for justice among the races. He was drawn into the Civil Rights Movement as we all were by the sight of bloody demonstrations, black citizens being downed by large fire hoses, women beaten my policemen, dogs turned loose on black protestors wanting only equal rights in America. On tv I heard President Kennedy speak in his plea for justice. He called for Congress to pass new civil rights legislations banning segregation. Only five months later, he was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. I was stunned for a long time over the loss of our great and inspiring leader. 

Today, it all came rushing back, every memory. Fifty years have passed and I am not that young woman now, but I remember as if happened today.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


At this time of year, like a litany, I access and celebrate four 

major treasurers of my life:

I am thankful for my family, my amazing family--Tim, Lynn, Jeremy, Sarah and Savannah, Pearson, Becky and Amanda. What a blessing you are to me. I am thankful for how you care for me. At this particular time of year we celebrate the addition to our family of Jeremy, who arrived from Vietnam on November 20, 1975 at age six. We traveled to New York to meet him, flew him back to Georgia our ancestral home, and drove him to our home on Cherry Mountain. What a blessing Jeremy has been and a true son and brother, as if born into the family. I admit I thought back then that we were saving him from war. How mistaken I was, how arrogant that thought turned out to be, for we all know now Jeremy came to save us, each one of us, one by one in some way or the other.

I’m thankful for my friends, you who have given me your love and friendship, you who unconditionally and unselfishly have stood by me during all kinds of heartache and  during unbearable situations--those who have visited when I was sick, brought food or sent or brought crates of cooked food when I could not prepare my own. Thanks for your calls, flowers, Emails, cards, and for regular comments you left on my site. Your care is paying off, for I have been blessed with health and strength.

The Victory Rose

At this time of year, and daily I am thankful for my beloved pets--Queen of the Mountain Sasha (13 years of pure love) and young Roxy who has enough love to go around and much energy to share. They are most responsible for keeping me daily up and moving--saying “Let me out”, “Let me in,” Feed me, “Bath me,” “Give me my Frontline,”  “Spray my wounds,” and “Where is my “candy?”

Here at the end of the year, each year,I also celebrate my writing and acknowledge how much writing (both mine and yours) sustains me. This year, I especially appreciate having had my poem “Our Great Depression” included in the Georgia edition of Southern Poetry Review, chosen by James Smith, Editor, and having my poem “Pink Pantsuit” featured in Ted Kooser’s wide reaching newspaper column, and having my book LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE with  a number of poems included by Michelle Aldredge in the Sunday poetry feature of GWARLINGO. 

Life is good, and I am thankful.


Monday, November 4, 2013


Hello Poets, 

I received a newsletter from City Lights Book Store.
They are announcing Coffee With the Poets, Thursday Nov 21 
at 10:30 -- 12:00, a special event with  Kathryn Stripling Byer 
leading  a workshop on pulling poems together into a collection
ready for publication. She will read some of her poems.  

Coffee with the Poets gathers every third Thursday at City Lights 
Bookstore in  Sylva, NC, and it is sponsored by North Carolina 
Writers Network WEST. If you are working on putting a poetry 
manuscript together, you might want to attend this special event. 
Kathryn Byer has published six books of poetry and served 
as N.C. Poet Laureate 2005-2009.

More information about Coffee With the  Poets in Jackson
County, contact Eon Alden at City Light Bookstore 
828 586-9499.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


You can get here from there. This is a real place known to be  located "above the frost line." The huge joy is having bright autumn leaves and flowers all in color at the same time.

A Message from Charles Simic, Former US Poet Laureate

POSTED by Charles Simic, former Poet Laureate 

Bleak House

“They used to tell me I was building a dream
With peace and glory ahead
Why should I be standing in line
Just waiting for bread?”
—Bing Crosby, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” (1931)

Some of us notice them, while others don’t seem to, even though there are 46.5 million of them according to the latest census and they are everywhere if one cares to look. A tall man in his late fifties, whose portrait might have once hung over the boss’s desk in some company office, packing grocery bags in a supermarket with grim efficiency; a meek-looking old couple in a drug store waiting their turn at the cash register with a bottle of generic ibuprofen and a box of tissues, who, upon learning the price for each put the tissues aside and pay with small change for the painkiller; a handsome, middle-aged father, unshaven and looking unkempt, waiting with his small son for a school bus outside a modest home in the suburbs; the tired and resigned look of fast food workers and store clerks in a mall, some of them young, but many of them middle-aged and even older, most of them being paid minimum wage for their work and needing an additional job, food stamps, or some other form of government assistance to support their families; a soup kitchen in New York with people who could be one’s relatives waiting patiently in line.
Anyone who averts his eyes from the hopeless lives many of our fellow citizens lead and tells himself and others that these men and women only have themselves to blame, is either a fool or a soulless bastard.
Not that those who still call themselves middle class are in great shape either. As one travels around the country, one is struck by how poorly dressed many Americans are and how run-down their cities and towns have become. Everyone knows what bankrupt Detroit looks like, but there are many other towns whose air of complete defeat is just as palpable. I once asked a taxi driver in one such place what people do there and he gave me a long list of all the big name manufacturers and businesses that have closed their doors over the past decade or two, confessing that he had no idea how his neighbors managed to make ends meet. I’ve no idea either.
Even for people with impressive past work experience and a range of skills, finding a job that pays a wage one can live on and that comes with healthcare benefits has become extremely difficult. It’s especially hard for young people. It’s been years since I’ve heard of any of my graduate students getting a decent job. Working as a waiter or a waitress in a trendy restaurant where tips are good is often the best they can hope for. For many others, it’s much worse, of course. Fifty years after Lyndon Johnson declared a “War on Poverty,” the richest country in the world no longer cares if millions of its less fortunate citizens live or die.

Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos
Rochester, New York, 2012
If one needs proof, one can start with what happened to food stamps in Congress, the so-called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that goes to 47 million Americans every month, almost half of them children and teenagers. Some of those benefits, approved in 2009, will be terminated on October 31. With fuel prices expected to increase this winter, this means, for many families in cold states, choosing between staying warm and having enough to eat. According to The Boston Globe, former US senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire said that the stimulus was never intended to be a permanent source of money. “All stimulus funding was to be temporary,” said Gregg, an immensely wealthy man and now the chief executive of a banking industry group. John Cochrane, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, also opposed the stimulus, arguing that it advanced the false assumption that “completely wasted federal spending helps the economy.” Worries about people who need help are a legitimate concern, he said, but food stamps discourage people from finding better jobs because recipients are worried they’ll lose the benefit. “At some point,” he said, “you have to be a little bit heartless.”
Of course you do. Just consider the effort of the Republicans in the House to overrule the Affordable Care Act, a legislation ratified by the majority of elected representative of the people and signed into law by the president. Bettering the lives of anyone but the wealthy, as we know, has ceased to be a concern of the Republican Party. But millions of Americans are on the brink of buying affordable health insurance and freeing themselves from a worry that makes their lives utter misery; the concerted effort backed by some of the richest men in this country to deprive them of that chance may be without precedent for sheer malice. Indifference to the plight and suffering of human beings of one class or another by some segment of the population is a universal phenomenon, but spending millions of dollars to deepen the misery of one’s fellow citizens and enlisting members of one political party to help you do so is downright vile. It must be motivated as much by sadism as by the political calculation that if these uninsured were to get insurance, they would give the Democratic Party a governing majority simply out of gratitude for letting them see a doctor.
Organized, by what The New York Times calls “a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III,” the backers of the government shut-down are ensconced in organizations like Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Works, Club for Growth, Generation Opportunity, and Young Americans for Liberty, their names as fake as those of Communist front organizations in the 1930s and 1940s and as venal as their forerunners. These groups spent more than $200 million last year to spread disinformation and delude the gullible among the populace about the supposedly catastrophic harm giving health care to the uninsured would do to the economy. Using them as a model, Americans should look out only for themselves. We have forgotten what this country once understood, that a society based on nothing but selfishness and greed is not a society at all, but a state of war of the strong against the weak.
October 16, 2013, 10:53 a.m.