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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, December 31, 2014

In Memory of Judith Kitchen August 6, 1941 - November 6, 2014, HERE AT THE END OF THE YEAR

Tonight at midnight 2014 ends for me. It is a year I will be happy to see end, it being one of the most difficult years in my life. My writing life has been on hold. I do not want to think about 2014 nor relive any of it again. This admission would disappoint my life friend, Judith Kitchen, for she treasured focus and remembering. I’ve spent almost every day during this year in physical therapy, and I want to forget it. I did regained much of my health. Seeing the end of 2014 gives me the measure of hope that in 2015 I will be productive. Let the unfinished projects return. Let words spring forth and flow again. 
Tonight, I must remember that during 2014, I lost my dear friend. Judith Kitchen will not be coming into the new year with me.  After years in a vicious struggle with two potentially fatal illnesses, Judith Kitchen, born on August 6, 1941, finished her last tasks and died peacefully in her home on November 6, 2014. Her lungs gave out.  I am thankful for the long three hour talk I had with her husband Stan Sanvel Rubin.  We talked and we cried. Stan had to go over every detail. It was necessary. After that he said again how everything changed for them when I drew the heart around them in the sand at Lake Chatuge one summer when they were visiting me. He said again as he had said before how happy they were that I could be with them for their wedding. I remember their wedding well in  Brockport, NY and that I stood with Judith as her best woman.  Some things here at the end of 2014 I will not forget. I will remember Judith.

photo by William Stafford

photo by Cheryl Merrill


JUDITH KITCHEN taught nonfiction in the Rainier Writing Workshop, the Low-Residency MFA Program at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. She was the author of seven  books: Perennials (poetry, Anhinga Press); Writing the World: Understanding William Stafford (criticism, Oregon State Univ. Press); Only the Dance (essays, Univ. of S. Carolina); Distance and Direction (essays, Coffee House Press), and The House on Eccles Road (novel, Graywolf Press; Penguin paperback) which was awarded the S. Mariella Gable Prize in fiction. A third book of nonfiction, Half in Shade, was published by Coffee House Press in Spring 2012.Her most recent book was The Circus Train, Ovenbird Books (2013).In addition, she has edited or co-edited three collections of nonfiction (In Short, In Brief, and Short Takes, all W. W. Norton) and, with Ted Kooser, an anthology, The Poets Guide to the Birds (Anhinga Press).  Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including  essays in Prairie Schooner, Colorado Review, Great River Review, and The Georgia Review. Her awards include two Pushcart Prizes for an essay, the Lillian Fairchild Award for her novel, the Anhinga Prize for poetry, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She has served as judge for the AWP Nonfiction Award, the Pushcart Prize in poetry, the Oregon Book Award, and the Bush Foundation Fellowships, among others. Kitchen was an Advisory and Contributing Editor for The Georgia Review where she was a regular reviewer of poetry.
A native upstate New Yorker, she grew up in Painted Post, a small town on the Pennsylvania border. After college in Vermont, a junior year in Edinburgh, Scotland, and some years living in both Scotland and Brazil, she returned to upstate NY where she worked as a part-time secretary, an assistant in a carnival supply business, with the NY state Poets in the Schools, and finally as an instructor at SUNY College at Brockport, where she taught courses in Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, and The Writer’s Craft. 
For twenty years, she served as editor and publisher of the State Street Press Chapbook Series, producing a total of 76 chapbooks, 2 pamphlets, 5 full-length books, 2 translations, and 1 anthology. In 1997, she was named Writer-in-Residence at SUNY Brockport, and in 2003, she and her husband, Stan Sanvel Rubin, moved to Port Townsend, WA, where they co-directed the Rainier Writing Workshop.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy 14th Birthday to Sasha on December 26, 2014

Sasha on her birthday with her new Christmas toy.

Sasha is my beloved wolf dog who has been my companion since she was 2 months old. She was born in the home of my son, Jeff, and her family history is well know to us. Her father was a full blooded Malamute, her mother was a medium sized black lab mix but her grandmother Nikita was a full blooded wolf. On December 26th my family and a few friends celebrated Sasha's 14th birthday.

When Sasha was young you did not see much wolf in her. Her ears were large and flopped over. Still, we knew she looked most like her grandmother Nikita.

Sasha was a beauty and with this photo taken by Lynn, she became a "cover girl" with  this shot of her on an Atlanta Vet's brochure. 

She has the thickest of coats, loves the outdoors in Spring, Fall and Winter.  She suffers in the heat summer and goes through massive shedding at certain times of the year. In summer she loves her "kid pool."

She has been blessed by the priest who asked for "a spring in her step." 

After  January 12, 2009, when her brother dog Nugget was attacked by coyotes, her ears stood up. It was as if suddenly she knew she was a wolf.

Sasha's ancestors in the cold north.

Sasha has been all over this mountain and used to love to walk as in this photo from Christmas 2010, walking with Jeremy. Or walking on the mountain with Lynn in 2011. 

More often now she 
watches them go and come from their walks from her look out spot on the deck.

Sasha and I get along like best friends.  She has been allowed to be "the dominate bitch dog" and all the other dogs love her and they pay respect to her. She is sometimes called "Queen of the Mountain." I am the alpha dog. All I have to do is show my teeth without even a growl. She never fails to come when I call her, even if she does not want to come. She loves to lie at my feet and follows me room to room in the house. If I sit on the deck, she sits at my feet there too.

Two things Sasha loves most of all--(1) Her Pack, every family member, the young and the old. She literally cries when they leave and rejoices when they return. Everyone says "a proper goodbye" to her when they leave because they know she expects it. Savannah puts flower in her hair. (2) Above all, above even me Sasha loves Lynn. Lynn is the only one she licks on the face.

Happy Birthday Sasha. Live long.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Betty Jamerson Reed is POET OF THE MONTH DECEMBER 2014

Betty Jamerson Reed is the featured poet of the month of December 2014 here Above the Frost Line. 


Sister by Betty Jamerson Reed
"Now, don't forget I love you,"
whispered her sweet lips.
"Pray for me. I'll pray for you."
Now lying alone in her grave,
body still, agony free, but
her voice echoes
this constant plea and promise,
"Pray for me. I'll pray for you."
I had begged, "God, please,
no more suffering.
Destroy that disease."
And death, a kind of healing,
has ended her pain.

from Out of Our Hearts and Minds: 
Poetry, Prose, and Art from Transylvania Writers' Alliance 
Pacher, Sara and Townsend-Borden, Catherine (Eds.).(North Charleston, SC: Booksurge Publishing, 2006), p. 117.

by Betty Jamerson Reed

Since childhood, poetry has enriched my life. My father and I shared poetry during the routine of daily living. I love the music and images of the Psalms and Proverbs. In school I eagerly memorized poetry such as "Abou Ben Adhem," "The Daffodils," and long passages from Shakespeare. I still commit favorite poems to memory. In my study I have learned the power of brevity and the vast potential of poetry, especially in the work of Emily Dickinson. Poetry from the centuries has opened my mind to the enduring need of mankind to reflect on beauty and ugliness, war and peace, courage and cowardice. 

The power of words is intoxicating. Words have the ability to ignite hope and to brighten shadows and illuminate darkness. I hope to write a poem that will enhance the reader's sense of humanity and stimulate contemplation about the human dilemma. Writing poetry remains a constant challenge, but it provides a rich creative outlet that is often therapeutic for me. (Betty Jamerson Reed)

Poet Betty Jamerson Reed, a native of Western North Carolina, is a retired educator. She is most known for being the author of  two books documenting the history of segregated black schools: The Brevard Rosenwald School: Education and Community Building in a Southern Appalachian Town, 1920-1966 (McFarland, 2004) (Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies) and School Segregation in Western North Carolina: A History , 1860s - 1970s (McFarland 2011) (Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies). 

an added note from Nancy Simpson
“Leave a comment please. It will be appreciated.” Nancy Simpson 


In October, I quietly celebrated Five Years of this site, LIVING ABOUT THE FROST LINE. I am already working in the sixth year. My interest  here is Poetry, especially Southern, North Carolina, Georgia  and Appalachian poetry. I like to feature poets here, and I especially like to feature the poet during his or her birth month if possible. I like to feature a poet especially when they have a new book in print and tell the reader how they can buy the book if they want it. There is no charge.

Although I had previously published Betty Jamerson Reed's  poem in the anthology Echoes Across the Blue Ridge in 2010, I met Betty in person for the first time last May at NC Writer's Network West's 2014 Spring Writing Conference in Sylva. As I spoke that day in Sylva about poets keeping their poems out there in reprints to build an audience for their poems, I offered the workshop group a chance to send me poems for reprint. Betty sent me three poems and I was happy to share them with my readers at the site "LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE." The offer is still open to NC poets, especially those living in the NC mountains.  Contact me at nance@dnet.net. I ask for poems that have been previously published. This way you keep your new poems on hand to submit to the best literary magazines. Magazines usually will publish only unpublished poems, so you will want to be extra thoughtful where you send your newest, most exciting new work to the best literary magazines. When I reprint your poems, I will want to give credit to the magazine that first published them.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Get the news herehttp://www.newsobserver.com/2014/12/22/4422699_shelby-stephenson-is-next-nc-poet.html?rh=1

Congratulations are in order. Shelby Dean Stephenson has been named the new poet laureate of North Carolina by NC Governor McCrory. Stephenson will be installed in February 2015 as Poet Laureate and he will act as  an ambassador, using the office to promote NC poets and writers.(to read the full article, click above.)

Sunday, December 7, 2014


It's time to submit to the PSA's Annual Awards!

Each year from October to December the Poetry Society holds contests for poets at all stages of their careers. A prize for high school students, our Chapbook Fellowships for and our award for a poet over forty who has published no more than one book are just a few.

Annual Awards judges include:

Stephen BurtHonorĂ©e JeffersFady JoudahDana LevinAnge Mlinko, Jim Moore, Aimee NezhukumatathilAlan Shapiro, and Rachel Zucker.

Chapbook judges will be:

Marilyn Chin, Jane Hirshfield, A. Van Jordan, and Don Paterson

Accepting Submissions until December 22nd.

For guidelines see our website.  

Become a member of the Poetry Society
and enter our Annual Awards for free.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Claudia Emerson has died recently. She will be greatly missed.

Pulitzer Poet Claudia Emerson 1957- 2014


Claudia Emerson
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Claudia Emerson, whose book of piercing poems about one marriage ending and another beginning won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, died on Thursday in Richmond, Va. She was 57.
The cause was cancer, said Virginia Commonwealth University, where she taught.
Ms. Emerson strove to find poetic meaning in her rural roots and small-town upbringing, finding metaphors in the real and spiritual landscape of her native South. Like many Southern writers, she said, she explored the “irony of loss.”
In “Cleaning the Graves,” from her first book, “Pharaoh, Pharaoh” (1997), she writes:
The once a year we come here is as close
as my mother comes to mourning. These graves
are all she has of land she hated
The book that won the Pulitzer, “Late Wife” (2005), chronicles her journey from one marriage, through solitude and into another marriage. The poems are written in the form of letters addressed to her former husband, herself and her new husband. She laments the dissolution of a marriage of 19 years, celebrates her new independence and then addresses her new husband in a sequence of sonnets.(from The NY Times)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014



Poet Betty Jamerson Reed, a native of Western North Carolina, is a retired educator. She is most known for being the author of  two books documenting the history of segregated black schools: The Brevard Rosenwald School: Education and Community Building in a Southern Appalachian Town, 1920-1966 (McFarland, 2004) (Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies) and School Segregation in Western North Carolina: A History , 1860s - 1970s (McFarland 2011) (Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies). 

LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE  celebrates Poet and Educator Reed with three of her published poems. (read below) She also writes fiction. Currently she is completing a  novella based on a Civil War scenario and is completing a nonfiction study of three Appalachian educators. 

Other than creative writing, her interests center on family, especially her eight grandchildren, historical research, volunteerism, and Christian missions. A member of NCWN West, she is also active in other writing groups, and she encourages other writers. 

Three Poems by Betty Jamerson Reed


I won't cry,
Daddy's job's gone. The place he worked shut down.
"It's closed its doors," he said. "Our jobs are overseas."
Mommy said, "Where's the money gonna' come from?"
But the money ain't comin' 'cept once in a while.
We get Food Stamps and we're not hungry, 'cept for sweets.
So I won't cry.
We know the bank's gonna take our house.
Daddy says it ain't no great loss, but where'll we live?
Maybe we can go to Grandma's, but that's a long way off
And Daddy says there ain't no jobs there.
Don't know where we'll go.
But I won't cry.
The bottoms of my shoes have holes;
heels are off.
Mommy cut up cardboard shaped like my feet
and put inside.
I can't feel the nails now.
My clothes are gettin' too tight.
Maybe there's somethin' my size at Sharin' House.
I really want a bigger pair of jeans, shoes that fit.
Still I won't cry.
Daddy sold our trampoline and the TV.
"Every little bit helps," he said.
I sure miss watchin' cartoons.
Mommy said, "Sell my rings"...but Daddy won't do that.
He says better days are comin'.
I hope so, but no matter. I won't cry.
I just won't cry.

Published in Lucidity Poetry Journal, Winter 2008, p. 51 and
in Echoes Across the Blue Ridge: Stories, Essays and Poems,
 Ed. Nancy Simpson, 2010, p. 200.

Country Living

Daddy's drunk -- got a Mason jar of moonshine.
Sez Hyder brews good stuff.
Even those profs in Cullowhee make their own.
Daddy's drunk -- throwing chairs, breaking windows,
But he'll sleep it off.

Mom's smoking pot -- makes her happy.
Curses under her breath -- listening to copters
searching for plants on forest land,
grows her own weed -- not for sale.
But she'll sleep it off.

Tim's brain's fried, built his own meth lab
'cause his buddies said it's cheap, makes you high.
But he sees the law watching him, or thinks he sees.
He's scared and he hurts and life ain't worth livin'
And he can't sleep it off.

So how's country living, with crops failing
and debts piling high?
Everybody needs a beer to take the edge off,
just drowning in a sea of trouble,
and we wish we could sleep it off.

Published in Lucidity Poetry Journal, Summer 2011, p. 16.

An Octogenarian Ponders

Troubled nights prolonged;
days cut short.
My friends' lives--succinctly--
on headstones: name, dates
of birth, demise--
     drown my spirit's glee.
Time's threads, tangled with
gloom and sadness,
     halt my laughter and
speed the tears.
But memory rebels
and chooses joy!
     Joy, defiant, looks to
God for victory.
Advanced in age, daring to
reject grief's sorrow and pain,
my heart whispers
"There is no death.
Life, renewed in a distant
     garden, reverberates
    as  rich melodies echo
    from an angel choir."
There my friends, in bodies
of radiant glory,
await my coming, and with
that grand reunion
all curfews end. 

Reprinted with permission from Bereavement Publications, Inc., Living With Loss™, first published in Living With Loss™ Magazine, Summer 2011, page 23, 888.604.4673, livingwithloss.com.

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