Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Poetry abounds in WNC, thanks to Nancy Simpson

I came to live in western NC in 1995 because my husband and I had always wanted to live in the mountains and near a body of water. Clay County was perfect for us. We found a house about a half mile from Lake Chatuge on the side of a mountain. Our view included the blue waters of the lake and the Georgia mountains on the far side. In fact we could look at Brasstown Bald the highest point in Georgia while we ate our breakfast each morning.

I did not expect my life to take such a turn when we moved here, but thanks to Nancy Simpson, a special education teacher at the local school, who was program coordinator of the North Carolina Writers' Network West, I found what I had always wanted; a writing organization, friends who were writers, and a kind soul who taught writing to people like me.

Nancy taught a night class at the local community college and it was always full. I took her class over and over. She has a masters degree from Warren Wilson College. I took a poetry class she taught at the John C. Campbell Folk School, trembling at the thought of having to read my work out loud. But, she was gentle while helping us learn to write better poetry.

I had been writing since I was old enough to read and hold a pencil, but I had no confidence in myself. Thanks to Nancy I was soon submitting my poetry for publication. That was over two decades ago. Nancy was never too busy to help me polish a poem. She named my chapbook, Now Might as Well be Then, and I am delighted she chose that line from one of my poems as the title.

Nancy is having some health issues, and she can't read at Coffee with the Poets and Writers for our April meeting. April is Poetry Month and she usually is one of our featured poets. We look forward to her being back with us before long.

Another Clay County poet, Brenda Kay Ledford, was a student of Nancy Simpson in 1995 and she has published five books since then. She will read her poetry that speaks of her mountain heritage April 19th at Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, NC.

You can hear Brenda read in her unique voice in this interview on You Tube.

Our meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. We invite the public to attend and to bring original writing whether poetry or prose to share around our table.

NC Writers' Network-West sponsors this event. It is a program of the statewide NC Writer's Network. 
The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development.


DJan said...

I wish I lived close enough to attend one of her workshops, but it's wonderful to be able to enjoy her through your posts, and the video. Thank you. :-)

Karen Paul Holmes said...

Nancy also inspired me to write. She is the best mentor! Her own poetry is wonderful too. Thanks for this tribute to her, Glenda

Glenda Council Beall said...

I wish Nancy Simpson could be at our writers conference in May, but she is still recovering from some health problems and says she can't come.
Nancy changed my life and I will always be grateful.
Thanks, DJan and Karen, for your comments.