So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Showing posts with label Nancy Simpson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nancy Simpson. Show all posts

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Writers Circle Around the Table again

I am excited because I have decided to start my writing classes again. I am looking at September and trying to decide whether to go virtual or teach in a classroom. 

I have heard from several writers who would like to teach for Writers Circle Around the Table again. Although I have only taught memoir writing for the past few years, I might think about doing a poetry workshop. 

I began learning to write poetry with a terrific teacher, the late poet, Nancy Simpson, and all of us who took her classes learned so very much from her. You can hear us talk about that in this video made when we honored her after her death. 

She taught us what makes a poem. She taught us how sound is so important in a poem, and that is something that you will find in my poetry. Also, metaphors are a part of poetry that many don't use enough. I have every handout she gave us and the lesson that went with it. 

I always loved poetry, but it was Nancy who taught me why.

Thanks to Raven Chiong, we have this photo of the poetry critique group she leads each month at the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, NC.
Netwest Bee City Poets facilitated by Raven Chiong - standing, far right first row

This group meets at the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, NC on the first Thursday. All who write poetry are welcome.  

If you are just beginning to write poetry and want some good feedback on your work, this group has many experienced poets, published and knowledgeable. The first row in this photo includes Brenda Kay Ledford, Glenda Barrett, Mary Ricketson and Joan Howard who all have published poetry books and their poems have graced the pages of many journals and reviews. 

I am proud and I know Nancy would be proud of so many of her students who became outstanding members of NCWN-West and whose books now live in homes not only in the mountains but all over the country. 

Yes, I am getting the itch to work with writers, especially those who are just putting their toes in the water and who need to know more about their opportunities. 

I will be getting out the word when I schedule my class in September. Meanwhile, if you live in Hayesville, Murphy, or Hiawassee, GA let me know if you prefer to meet in a room or online. 

Here is a prompt if you need something to get you writing:  Begin by writing, I will never forget the time when ...

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Never too late - Make your change today!

In May 1995, Barry and I moved to Hayesville, NC having no idea how our lives would change.
A few months later, I would meet Nancy Simpson on the phone after I registered for membership in the North Carolina Writers' Network. She invited me to take the poetry class she taught at the John C. Campbell Folk School.

I had not planned to take a writing class, especially not poetry, but had hoped I could learn more about writing in North Carolina from the quarterly newsletter mailed to me by NC Writers' Network. I knew nothing about the folk school which was only a twenty-minute drive from my new home in the mountains.

Although I had been writing most of my life starting with stories in high school and a poem or two in class. My English teacher liked a poem I turned in for an assignment, and told me I should submit it to a magazine. That was all I was told and since I had no idea what magazine might accept my poem, I did nothing with it and was pleased she thought I had written something worthy of publication.

I had not shared my writing with anyone and did not know if I could write or not.
But Nancy talked me into taking her class. "It's free," she said. "I'm offering you a scholarship." Nancy had seen my name on a list of new members of  NCWN-West, a program she headed and helped create in the far western part of the state.

How could I possibly turn down such an invitation? Nervous and self-conscious, I attended the first class. It was taught in the Orchard House, one of the old farmhouses on the campus that served as a dormitory for students and also classrooms for writers and photographers. I fell in love with the living room right away. We sat on a sofa and overstuffed chairs as well as plain wood straight chairs. I immediately felt at home.

That day, that class, that place, and Nancy Simpson changed my life completely.
That was my first writing class but not my last. I registered for many classes at the folk school with great teachers who came from other places in North Carolina and from other states. Nancy knew so many writers and she invited them to come to John C. Campbell Folk School to teach.

Because I was a local resident and didn't require sleeping quarters, my tuition was discounted. That was the reason I could afford to take classes there. I began publishing my work the next year after taking classes and joining the network. As years passed, I began teaching beginning writers sharing what I had learned.

Nancy Simpson was the Writer in Residence at the folk school. She called me one day and asked if I would teach a weekend class. The original instructor had to cancel.

The day I turned the lock and walked into a classroom to teach for the first time at the folk school, I almost wept with gratitude. I will always remember the students who came and who were disappointed that the instructor who was originally listed for that weekend, was not coming. 

But the evaluation sheets handed in after class gave me high praise for knowing my subject well and all seemed very satisfied with my class. I knew another door had been opened for me. Soon I was teaching a weeklong class every year at JCCFS and teaching adult education for writers in the local junior college.

My first weeklong class taught at John C. Campbell Folk School

If you like to write and want to further your education in writing poetry or prose, fiction or nonfiction, I urge you to start with classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School.  You will never regret it.
See this information from the folk school website:

Local Discount Program Information

For Our Neighbors:

The Folk School is proud to offer 25% off tuition and a guaranteed spot upon registration to people living in the following counties:

North Carolina: Cherokee, Clay, Macon, Swain, and Graham
Georgia: Fannin, Towns, Union
Tennessee: Polk

Those looking to receive this benefit are required to present one of the following, showing proof of local address: a valid driver’s license, voter registration card, tax bill, or utility bill.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Self doubt and second guessing

I am sharing an email conversation from years ago. Nancy  P. is no longer with us and I miss her. 

I received the notification for a workshop at Warren Wilson in late July
with the fiction workshop being taught by Tommy Hays. I want to go but
I'm truly lacking in confidence. I'm always afraid my work won't match
up with the other writers and so I hold back. I know Tommy Hays is good
and he's pretty sharp. Do you HONESTLY think I would do alright there? I
do have to submit a short story or the first chapter of my novella that
I'm working on as part of a collection. I guess I'm just asking you for
a pep talk. What do you think? Will he be way over my head?

Nancy P.

Glenda Beall wrote:
 Nancy, you don't have any reason to be afraid. Your writing is
 excellent and you have had many stories published. I was afraid the
 first time I signed on for a master class at NCWN Fall conference with
 Kay Byer. But when I got there, I found most of the writers were no
 better than I was.
And I can tell you Tommy Hays is just another writer with the same fears
and worries all writers have about their work. Don't hold back, Nancy.
I know you will do well and you'll enjoy it. That is the most important part - you'll enjoy it.

 If you spend time comparing yourself to other writers or worrying
 about what they think of your work, you'll do yourself a disservice by
 not taking the opportunity to study with this writer. I am so glad I
 took the master class with Kay Byer. Now that I know her so well, I
 realize she, like you and me, is not always confident and
 self-assured. I'm sure Tommy Hays is the same.
Go for it, Girl! You will be fine.

 I want to hear all about the workshop.

Thank you, Glenda. 
You are so right. I just put myself into a worry pot when I should realize 
most everyone has these same doubts and fears. I guess it comes from 
the sequestering of the writer within four walls for long periods of time. 
I will send in my registration and do what you recommend: Enjoy the journey.Sincere thanks,Nancy P.


Nancy P. was a very good writer, but as you can see, like all of us, she had doubts. We are quick to second guess ourselves. Do you do that? Have you ever missed a great opportunity because you lacked the confidence to take a chance?

I almost did back in 1995 when I first moved to the mountains. Nancy Simpson (not the Nancy in my post) called me and asked if I wanted a scholarship for her week-long poetry class at the John C. Campbell Folk School.

It was free to me. I was brand new to the area and did not know any writers. The idea of taking a class with poets absolutely scared me to death. I had to make a big decision. I almost turned her down, but I pushed myself to overcome my fear and that decision changed my life.

What about you? What is your story? Did you overcome a fear or self-doubt to accomplish something important in your life?
Do you often second guess your decisions? 
Leave a comment or email me at  

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

What do you think? Nancy Simpson on punctuation in poetry

I learned to write poetry from Nancy Simpson, wonderful poet and teacher, who lived here in the town where I live. She taught writing at Tri-County Community College in Murphy, NC and because of her we have more poets than prose writers in our area.

I am going to re-blog a post about Nancy that was published years ago on . I think we can still learn from Nancy although she is no longer with us. Her words, her poetry can help us all who want to be poets.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Coffee with the Poets made a big splash this month

Wednesday was Coffee with the Poets day in Hayesville, NC at Cafe Touche.
Mary Mike Keller, one of the Writers Circle faculty, along with a long time friend, Glenda Barrett, each read their original work for a packed house.

This event is sponsored by Netwest and has been running since 2007. Over the years we enjoyed local poets and writers as well as guests who traveled many miles to read here.

I am excited that two of my students, Nadine Justice and Barb Gabriel read at open mic and their work was evidently appreciated by the warm applause each received.

We gave a door prize yesterday - a copy of The Best of Poetry Hickory, an anthology of poets who read in 2011 at  Poetry Hickory held at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse in Hickory, NC. This event is led by Scott Owens, poet and NCWN rep for that area.
I am happy that the winner of the book was none other than Nancy Simpson, my mentor and teacher of poetry.

I am posting a few photos from yesterday.

Glenda Barrett, poet, When the Sap Rises, chapbook from Finishing Line Press

Mary Mike Keller reads an essay on spooky stories

Robert S. King, FutureCycle Press, and newcomer, Dot James.

Nancy Simpson visits with Netwest members Joan Howard and Carolyn Johnson

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blue Ridge Bookfest

We will be participating in the Blue Ridge Bookfest this year. Click to see last year's news and come back soon to see the 2011 update.
Ron Rash will be a presenter at this event for authors. Don't miss it.
Blue Ridge Bookfest at Flatrock Community College in Henderson County, NC. Dates: May 21 and 22, 2011.

Nancy Simpson whose latest book is Living Above the Frost Line, will teach a poetry workshop on Friday afternoon.
A group of writers whose work is published in Echoes Across the Blue Ridge will participate in a panel discussion at the Bookfest on Saturday. Among those participating will be Rosemary Royston, poet and Program Coordinator for Netwest, Karen Holmes, published poet and editor of the Netwest News, Nancy Simpson, poet and teacher. Also on the panel will be Nancy Purcell, well-published writer and teacher and Netwest Rep for Transylvania County, NC, Lana Hendershott, Netwest Rep for Henderson County, NC who writes and publishes short stories, and JC Walkup, publisher of Fresh, a literary magazine. I will moderate the panel which will share their expertise on writing and publishing. Echoes Across the Blue Ridge will be on sale at the bookfest and a number of the authors will be present to sign copies.

See the Website or contact Bill Ramsey for more information.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blue Moon was our song

Nancy Simpson, author of Living Above the Frost Line, a collection of her poetry for the past thirty years, honored my by posting one of my poems from Now Might as Well be Then on her site today.
She also has some of the most beautiful moonscapes. Visit here

What images do you see when you think of the word, moon?

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