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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, May 21, 2014


NC Writers Network West's Writing Conference in  Sylva, NC on May 10th turned out to be the most fulfilling writing event of year 2014 for me. Best of all was seeing and visiting with long-time, treasured writing friends.  It was indeed restorative for me to spend time with my writing friends and to share with fellow poets some of the secrets of how we can build a readership for our poetry. It was a joy for me to share discussion time with Kathryn Stripling Byer. A family member remarked at how I came home with a spring in my step.

Kathryn Stripling Byer, NC Poet Laureate Emertia

For a long time, NCWN West has hoped to establish an annual writing conference and that goal was approved two years ago by NCWN Executive Director Ed Southern. NCWN West Program Director Ellen Schofield coordinated this event with the help of Kathryn Stripling Byer and Newton Smith, Jackson County's Netwest Representatives who hosted the event held at the historic  Jackson  County Courthouse Complex and also with the help of former Program Director Glenda Beall, Gay Moring, J C Walkup, Linda M. Smith,  Joan Howard and Lana Hendershott.

Kathryn Stripling Byer, NC Poet Laureate Emertia and NC Writers Network West Program Coordinator Ellen Schofield

JC Walkup, long time  NCWN member from Haywood County, author of new novel Partners and  William Everett, author of seven books and many articles  in English and German on ethical issues in Religion and Society, who taught ethics many years in theological seminaries and graduate schools.

Poet and long time member of NCWN West Dr. Gene Hirsch and his wife Ginny, residents of Pittsburg, PA and Cherokee County North Carolina. Gene Hirsch joined Netwest only two years after it began and he established NCWN West's  first monthly critique group for both poets and writers that still continues to meet monthly 21 years later. 

It is true I did return home with a spring in my step and with deep appreciation in my heart  for all of those who worked to coordinate such a day of inspiration
for our writers. Some of the  mountain writers do sometimes feel we are far from the writing centers of our country, even far from the writing centers of our our own state.  NCWN West has worked hard to promote writing and to serve our writers for over 23 years now. 

I want to assure you, I also returned home with a deep feeling that I too was appreciated, carrying in my arms an exotic multi-blooming purple orchid, which was presented to me as ( they said as founder of NCWN West). Those who know me know that I  always say and will always say "I am a co founder." I still deeply appreciate the guidance of then NCWN Executive Director Marsha Warren who defined the best of what NCWN West would become and  Debbie McGill then NC Arts Council Literary Director in Raleigh who organized our first meetings and ultimately got us mountain writer invited to the NCWN Fall Conference in 1991 and got us connected to NCWN. I honor Kathryn Stripling Byer as a cofounder because she signed and sent the first letter to invite the mountain writers to meet in Jackson County when Debbie McGill came out to the mountains to meet with us, and thus brought us all together for that first  meeting. How could I say no to "having dinner in Sylva with Debbie McGill when I had just received the NC Artist Fellowship for Poetry from her. I admit I did not know what I was getting myself into. Some months later, Kathryn and I were the  two members there in the room at the NCWN fall Conference when Marsha Warren and then President Anthony Abbott invited us to bring the mountain writers in as a special program under the umbrella of NCWN. This is the true account of how and when NCWN West began. Kathryn Stripling Byer has served as consultant to NCWN West from the beginning and served one year as Program Coordinator when our PC Glenda Beall had to resign during her husband's illness. That was a crucial year, as some of you remember well, because it was at the very time we were bringing our our second anthology --Echoes Across the Blue Ridge. It was the sale of that  anthology that now affords NCWN West the opportunity to hold regular writing events here in the far western NC mountains.  At the time Kathryn Stripling Byer served as P.C. she gave invaluable service in getting an introduction written by Robert Morgan and also got the best blurbs from renowned authors for the back book cover. Many times through the past 23 years I confessed and still say that I will never do much of anything related to poetry without first consulting with Kathryn Stripling Byer.

My orchid is the most beautiful flower I have ever seen. I am determined to keep it alive. If you have any inside knowledge of how to care for an orchid, please let me know as soon as possible.

Back home now, more than a week later,  I am still thinking about that very special day. I want to remind the poets who attended our discussion about  "Building a Readership for Your Poetry, " that my offer still stands to reprint some of your poems on this blog. Send 3-5 already published poems ( giving credit to the place it was first published) with your photo and a brief bio.
(nance@dnet.net) This is in keeping with the idea of getting your poems out there and keeping them out there in print, the old poems as well as the newly written ones.   Also, in the future, I am working to get this site revamped. I need more readers and more comments. In return, each week, I plan to give a listing of five open markets looking for poems. 


Joan Ellen Gage said...

Nancy, I'm glad that you had a wonderful time at the conference and that you got to see many of your friends.

I'm happy that you were honored, as well as Kathryn. Keep that spring in your step!

Glenda C. Beall said...

I am late commenting here, Nancy, but I really like this post. I am happy you continue to give us some background on NCWN West as many newer members and readers of your blog might not realize how far we came over the past 23 years.
Thanks to Kathryn Byer and to you for all the work you did to build the membership in our mountain area and to bring us together. Long live NCWN West (Netwest)!!