Friday evening I attended Writers’ Night Out with my good friend, Ellen, who had traveled six hours in a car to be here. Ellen was first my diabetes educator, and then a very dear friend. She lived in our area for a few years. Now, she comes back to see me and all the friends she made when she was a regular part of our NCWN-West writing events.
Mary Mike Keller read her poetry which I have always enjoyed and so did those who sat in the audience. She has a new one, Innocence, which appealed to her co-reader, Natalie Grant, and all of us. We see ourselves in her poem.
It has been some years since Natalie read here. Tonight everyone hung on her words. She is a high school English teacher, but has furthered her own education and studied with excellent professors. I relate to her poetry and the emphasis on place. Being a native of western North Carolina, she writes about where she lives. We see the houses, walk the trails and feel for those who have little material wealth, but are full of love of family.
Saturday morning Ellen and I drove over to Choestoe SchoolHouse, an event venue, rented by the Georgia Poetry Society for their Fall meeting. NCWN-West joined with GPS this weekend to bring together those who live in western NC and poets who came up from Atlanta as well as counties in North Georgia.
Because the bordering counties of North Georgia, Union, Towns, Fannin, and Rabun are considered a part of the NCWN-West region, many of our members belong to both literary groups. Michael Diebert, current president of Georgia Poetry Society, is the poetry editor for The Chattahoochee Review, Piedmont College's in-house literary journal, and co-facilitates the Writers' Forum on the Clarkston campus. He is a published poet and the author of the collection Life Outside the Set (Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013). It was his idea to join our groups for this weekend.
The first workshop of the day was led by Tina Barr. Poems were analyzed with the group offering their thoughts – a very good give and take of ideas. She also left us with prompts to help us write a poem. I was delighted that I found the bones of two poems while in this class. Tina teaches poetry, and like me, she is not a critical teacher but an encouraging and nurturing teacher.
In the afternoon, our own NCWN-West member, Brent Martin of Cowee, NC gave a reading of his poetry. He is a Georgia native who now lives and teaches in Macon County, North Carolina.
Katie Chaple and Travis Denton talked about the craft of making poems. This also provoked lively participation from the large audience.
I hope NCWN-West might use the Choestoe Schoolhouse in the future. It is an old school house from the 1930s that was restored and is now used for events. Ethylene Dyer Jones told us the story of the school house where she once attended school and later taught.
It was good to see many poets from Georgia that I don’t often see and some members of NCWN-West I look forward to knowing better.