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 poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poetry. 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 ...

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Scott Owens read and taught a workshop in Hayesville, NC

I am tired but I have had a good week. The poet, Scott Owens, was here and stayed overnight at my house. It was so good to see him again and talk with him. He has published 19 poetry books and I have most of them. He always writes something sweet when he signs my books. He is a kind and gentle man. Almost young enough to be my son, Scott has been a good friend for the past 15 years.

He and I were on the schedule to read Thursday evening at the John C. Campbell Folk School. NC Writers' Network-West sponsors several writing events in our region and once a month The Literary Hour is sponsored by NCWN-West. We feature two writers, a poet, and a fiction or nonfiction writer. For this event, I was the prose writer. 

Scott decided he wanted to go first and I was glad. I wanted him to have plenty of time, and I would take what was left. We had a good size audience and almost ran out of chairs. Scott is well-loved by writers in this area. He has come over from Hickory, NC where he lives and owns a coffee shop Taste Full Beans tmany times to read his poetry and to teach poetry. Some years ago, he read at Writers Night Out on Thursday evening and spent the night so he could teach a workshop on Friday morning in my studio.

I wish everyone could have come to his workshop. He is an excellent teacher, so down to earth and casual, that we all felt we could ask questions. 

I hope we can have him back this fall. His workshop was on the subjects you have at your disposal and you should never run out of topics. He showed us how to discover the many people living and dead in our families that make good subjects. We can write about places. I find myself writing about the farm I grew up on. We can write about memories that are interesting. As Scott says, writing must be interesting. That is true for poetry as well as prose.

When I teach memoir classes, I urge my students to not only write the facts or truths but make it entertaining. No matter what you write, if it is not interesting or entertaining, you will lose your reader. 

I always pay for having a good time with friends. On Friday night, my allergies or sensitivities to fragrance, got the best of me. I felt like I had a bad sinus infection on the right side of my face. I am still dealing with it today. But I would do it again.

Thanks so much to Scott Owens. If you have a chance to hear him read and talk about his writing be sure you take it. And I highly recommend him for workshops on poetry. He is very knowledgeable about anything that relates to writing poems. 

I am motivated now to write poetry again. The Pandemic shut down my poetry writing for the past two years. But I got some ideas at Scott's workshop. I look forward to getting something written soon.

Saturday, August 13, 2022



Do you want to hear both sides of the border issue? Dana Wildsmith teaches English as a second language to immigrants to this country. She takes us inside the hearts and minds of those who struggle to make it to the United States and safety from the dangers in their homelands.

We hear so much talk of building walls along our borders to keep people out but seldom do we hear the migrants' stories that accompany such dangerous journeys--like the vulnerability of giving up your child to a stranger, the tragedy of dying in the desert, or the constant fear of getting caught. Dana Wildsmith's Jumping captures the experiences of what happens when "illegals" try to cross into the United States, "jumping" the border. 

Cesar, the main character, is especially powerfully portrayed with his humor, intelligence, and desire to provide a better life for his family. Read this novel for a good story, for a better understanding of our neighbors, and to know what it means to be human.

Dana Wildsmith’s writing has its roots in literal soil: the earth of the old farm she works to keep alive, as documented in her collection of poems, One Good Hand, and through her environmental memoir, Back to Abnormal, or along the desert sands of our southern border, as told in her novel, Jumping, a story which grew from Wildsmith’s work as a teacher of English Literacy to non-native speakers. 

Her most recent collection, One Light, follows the journey of her mother, Grace, down dementia’s rocky road. Wildsmith has a new book forthcoming from Madville Publishing which took root as the pandemic flourished and we all searched for tools to help us cope with this unprecedented epic. With Access to Tools explores the role of tools in our lives: traditional farm tools, tools of the digital age, and cerebral tools such as patience and memory. 

Wildsmith is a highly sought-after teacher of creative writing and has garnered residencies at the Hambidge Center, the Lillian E Smith Center, Grand Canyon National Park and Everglades National Park. Her website,, is the home of a widely read blog mostly centered on teaching and writing.

Wildsmith's books are available on 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

A Poet I cannot stop reading - Scott Owens

Scott sent me an email telling me his newest book is out. 
I promptly ordered it. Strange, maybe, because the book is for children. Scott wrote a book of poems with illustrations for children.   Worlds Enough: Poems for and about children (and a few grown-ups)
I am intrigued and must read this book. Maybe I will then pass it on to a child, but because I think Scott is one of the best poets of today, I look forward to reading this book. Take a peek at the cover here.
He is a very busy man with so much on his plate, that he had to give up one of my very favorite blogs. Musings - some years ago.
But I spent much time tonight going back to Musings and reading his words about poetry.

Scott says the art of poetry
“is what won’t sit still inside your head 
what wakes you up at night 
what calls memory back from darkness 
what gives words the shape they take  
what makes you wonder how much more you could do  
and just why you haven’t been doing it.”

Scott Owens will be the featured guest for Mountain Wordsmiths July 28, at 10:30 AM on Zoom. We will enjoy his time with us and hope you will join us. Contact me or Carroll Taylor for a link.

I wish we felt safe to have him here in person, but COVID is back in all its vengeance in Clay County NC. 
I was told back in January when I got COVID in spite of wearing a mask all the time, "You need a better mask." I agree. I try to wear a much better mask now, but at this time, I am not going out to indoor meetings. I can't afford to take the risk.

But you can enjoy Scott Owen's books now. I enjoyed this one so much:
Sky Full of Stars and Dreaming poems by Scott Owens. This was published by Red Hawk Publications.  copyright 2021. Click here to see what others are saying about this outstanding poet and his poetry in this book.

He wrote a poem about teaching during a pandemic. He observes how quiet people are, hardly talking as if that will keep the virus from spreading.

To me, this book is about life, how we live, how we want to die, how to survive during a pandemic, what is really important in life, who are our heroes, and what he notices in his daily life. It is also about Hope.

Only One

My wife won't let me speak
of being old, but I don't mind age
or dying. In all my favorite movies
the good guys always die, heroically, 
of course, fighting to the very end,
seizing every moment, making
whatever has come before, worthwhile.
Like them, I think that must be
what matters most. And like them I think
if I'm busy enough, distracted by what
I am doing, doing for what I believe in,
for living, then it will be worthwhile
to the very end, and the end itself
might pass without me noticing at all.

Thanks, Scott. I feel the same about this living and dying business. Having watched loved ones die, I am not afraid of dying, just the process that can take a long time. I am a member of Compassion and Choices which I hope will help me go without "noticing at all."

Monday, April 11, 2022

Poetry Month and my poetry here

I have decided to share more of my poetry on my blog. We always feel we must not share a poem online because then the poetry journals won't accept it. But, I have many that have already been published and I am happy for other eyes to see them.
So many of you emailed me about the poem, Stop the Trees from Growing, and how you related to it.

You might like this one, too. I wrote it about six years after Barry died.  Forgive the spacing. I know better but my computer is acting up tonight.

Shot into the Future, Clutching the Past

 Sometimes I forget the years before spiraling

darkness took its toll. Now aging wraps me in

silken threads, squeezes me into a box.

I forget until a whirlwind, half my age,

delves into my life. Her purpose, unclutter

my house, my life, set me free of the past.

I forget until she tells me 2005 was long ago.

It’s yesterday to me. She brands my computer

an antique, like me, I suppose.

Floppy disks? Does anybody still use them?

She tosses them in the trash. What can she know

of such things? I saved precious words on those disks.

I am saddened by the pain she has yet to face.

Her biggest loss so far – a breakup with her boyfriend.

Six years gone now, I kept his voice on the answering machine.
                        By Glenda Council Beall

Published:  - Main Street Rag,  Volume 21, Summer 2016 issue

Friday, April 8, 2022

Stop The Trees From Growing published by Your Daily Poem

Stop the Trees from Growing
Glenda Council Beall 

Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again,
But I came here today, to where Mother nurtured
my spirit and where Daddy kept the roof over my head;
where the fire warmed my bed at night when winter winds
howled ‘round the corners of the old frame house –
when this flat farm with ponds and pines was home.

The road that once the school bus traveled
taking me to spend the day
with someone who was not my mother,
looks like a highway to a place I’ve never been.

It’s not the buildings all torn down, the homes of friends
that now hold dreams of families I don’t know –
It is the trees.
Nothing stopped the trees from growing, growing ever taller,
till they dwarfed the house, the barn, the backyard –
now a tiny garden towered over by a lilac tree,
an oak, and one longleaf pine.

I traveled from what is and has been home for fifteen years,
to visit that which was but is not my home anymore.
Like you, Thomas Wolfe, I can’t go home again.
I can’t go home because that place I once called home is gone.

Forever gone, except in memories that linger like lazy chimney smoke
spiraling through my mind, thoughts that surge a yearning deep within
to hear the laughing voices, see the kindly eyes – stilled voices, loving eyes,
closed under sod upon a quiet hill.

This poem was published in 2019 by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer who is the owner of Your Daily Poem. 
She has published six of my poems and if you want to read the others, go to her website and look for my name.

You can subscribe and she will send you a poem every day in your Inbox.  Some poems are new and some are old. Her goal is to prove that all poetry is NOT dull or boring. She wants to bring poetry to the folks who don't think they like poetry.
Jayne does a great job, too. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

What can your kitchen tables tell if asked?

Poet Laureate Joy Harjo writes this poem about the kitchen table.
We didn't have a kitchen table when I was growing up because we had a very large family with my parents and seven children, but the table where we met three times a day fits this poem by Joy Harjo. 

Did you have a kitchen table where the family met for casual meals? 
I like round tables and so does my brother, Max. When he goes out to eat, he asks for a round table. What does that circle mean to us? 

When Barry and I set up housekeeping at our mountain house in 1995, I insisted we purchase a round table. I like that anyone seated there can see everyone else at the table. On a square or rectangle, it is hard to see the people at the far end on the same side where you sit. I think round tables make for better conversation. 

In the poetry classes I sometimes teach, I offer a prompt for my students. I ask them to list and describe all the tables they sat at in their lives. Of course, they only list the ones they remember and they have a good reason to remember those particular tables. 

If you are a writer or even if you are not, try doing this exercise: beginning at the earliest age you can remember, describe the tables where you usually ate at your house with your family. 
List other tables you remember and write your memories of eating at that table. You can go on and on if you have had many tables. You will be surprised how the memories will pop up in your mind. 

In Joy Harjo's poem, she writes:
"At this table, we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory."

What was done or said or felt around your kitchen table? What was the purpose or role played by that table?
If you are motivated to write a poem or a short prose piece, send it to me. I would really enjoy reading your work.

Hope you are enjoying this weekend. I had lunch with my sister and one of my nieces today. I also had dinner with Paige, another delightful niece. I am so blessed to have them in my life and to be able to visit with them now. 

Let me hear from you, my readers. Stay safe and healthy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Now Might as Well be Then

My poetry book Now Might as Well be Then, was published by Finishing Line Press. 
I was honored when poet, Scott Owens, wrote a review of my book. I was thrilled because Scott is a poet whose work I greatly admire. I have almost all of his books and a CD with his poems. 

I am publishing his review here because Amazon is not selling my book anymore and many folks think the book is out of print.
Read the review, please, and if you would like this book, you can order it from me or from Finishing Line Press for $12.00. If you order from the publisher, I do not receive any payment. 
If you order from me, I make a small profit.  The book makes a lovely gift and I will be glad to sign it for you.  I will also send you a free copy of another poetry book. Please share this post with others. 

Posted By Scott Owens to Musings at 3/10/2010 02:31:00 PM

There are no surprises in Glenda Beall’s new book of poems Now Might As Well Be Then. The title gives it all away. These are poems about timelessness, specifically about the timelessness of human experience. There are no surprises, but there is great joy. Not that every poem tells a joyful story. Quite the contrary, some of the best poems here are the most tragic. But even in these poems, there is great poignancy, and in that poignancy the joy of recollecting, of being reminded of how it feels to be human, of having, in fact, those feelings cathartically intensified through the poems.

Beall begins the collection with a love poem that celebrates the timelessness of a relationship. The speaker in the title poems says, “You brought me spring in winter // youth when I was old, / you found my childhood self.” If not for the dedication of the poem which announces who is intended by the indefinite second person pronoun, one could easily read this as a celebration of many things--god, nature, the mountains of North Carolina—and interestingly, any of these meanings would fit for the poems that follow as these poems celebrate the presence and influence of all of these elements.

One suspects, in fact, that the relationship between speaker and mate in “Now Might As Well Be Then” is inseparable from that between speaker and place. That suspicion is supported by the next poem, “Mountain Seagull,” in which “Lake Chatuge wraps the mountains, / lapping love,” and the speaker says “My spirit soars above the scene / a seagull far from home, / But yearning to embrace / and build a nest.” Four poems later in “In the Dark,” the theme of timelessness in this relationship appears again, as does the title of the collection and the first poem: “Here I am years later, listening to your soft breath / and feeling your warm smooth skin. / In the dark, now might as well be then.”

The timelessness Beall reveals to the reader is not the magical, mysterious, miraculous sort of timelessness that remains inexplicable and unearned. 
Beall, instead, makes clear in poems like “Woman in the Mirror” that the timelessness she speaks of is fostered through the vital effort of memory: “What happened to those days / I ask the woman in the mirror. / Gone, she says, all gone, unless / you can remember.” The final line break of that poem becomes an impressively empowering device, creating both an imperative and a confirmation for the reader to carry into his or her own life.

To show us how this creation of timelessness is to be done, Beall practices her own imperative throughout the poems in this book. She remembers the sound of rain in “Listening for the Rain” and is reminded of her father:
Too late for the corn, my father says,
across the bridge of time.
Maybe it will save the pasture,
give us one more haying
before summer ends.

She goes on, then, to recall other events from her childhood, the tragic story of “Roosevelt” (perhaps my favorite poem in the book), the story of her “Father’s Horse,” another story of tragic loss in “Clearing New Ground,” and finally, the beautiful and touching concluding poem “Blue Moon Every Twenty Years,” which successfully reminds the reader of all of Beall’s themes by tracing the singing of a particular song every twenty years, the last time when the singer was somewhere around 70 years old and still proclaiming, “I’ll sing your song for you again / in twenty years.” Just so, these poems will sing to the reader, again and again, reminding us to embrace life through our relationships with people and places and to make those relationships timeless through the vital habit of memory.

--Please leave a comment. It will not appear immediately, but I will read it and respond to it. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Places to submit prose and poetry now

Denton Loving has posted a list of places to submit your writing, prose and poetry. 

This is one we, who live in Appalachia, should try.
Rattle’s Tribute to Appalachian Poets

Our Summer 2021 issue will be dedicated to Appalachian Poets. The poems may be any subject, style, or length, but must be written by poets who themselves identify with Appalachia and were born or have lived in the region for a large portion of their lives. The poems need not be about Appalachia—our goal is to honor these poets by sharing the diverse creative work that they’re producing. Deadline: January 16, 2021.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Eugene Z. Hirsch 12-18-31 -- 9-3-20

This post is written by Mary Ricketson

Dr. Gene Hirsch, poet
Gene Hirsch, MD, a poet of our mountains, died September 3, 2020, after a long struggle with cancer.  He was a well-known writer in western North Carolina.  He taught poetry at John C. Campbell Folk School for many years, and helped Nancy Simpson start North Carolina Writers Network West 25 years ago or more.  He regularly attended critique groups, read at organized events, and taught small groups of poets at his home in Murphy.  Gene was teacher and mentor to be remembered.  He lived in Pittsburgh PA and in Murphy NC, and visited Murphy often, until May 2019.

Gene was known as a loving man who listened deeply to every poem from any kind of writer, rustic beginner to polished expert.  He cared about the craft of writing and also cared about the person writing the poem.  As a physician, he had a long career practicing medicine.  In later years he taught doctors and medical students to provide the best of medical and human help to dying patients.  The following is a quote, introduction to his long essay, Intimacy and Dying, written earlier this year, unpublished.
I am a retired geriatrician who, for thirty five years, taught humanistic values in Clinical Medicine to medical students and doctors. From 2000 to 2010, at Forbes Hospice in Pittsburgh, I guided students through the ancient clinical art of responding to struggles and needs of dying people. Among other curricular activities, with permission, we (2 -4 students and I) visited patients in their homes, not to learn procedures for obtaining medical histories, but for the specific purpose of listening to their thoughts, feelings, ordeals and supports. They understood that they were being placed in the role of teachers rather than patients. This proved to be important to all.

Gene kept his illness private, made no apology for that request.  He asked me to talk with him late in his dying process, asked me to be “ears to listen, for some day my dying to be worth my life.”  I will have more to say about that after I have settled enough to review the scratchy notes I kept of this time.  He also asked me to organize a memorial after his death. He said he wants to be remembered in our mountains.  Once the world is safe to gather in person, when the pandemic is over, we will have a memorial for memory, poems, and a celebration of his life.

His body has been cremated.  At some time, in respect for his request, his family will spread his ashes privately at his former home in Murphy.  He gave that home to his wife’s son and family, a family who loves the mountains and the privilege to vacation there. 

During the final months of Gene’s illness, he engaged the help of a friend and poet in Pittsburgh, Judy Robinson, to organize and seek publication of his poems.  The result of that effort is indeed a book, published 7-15-20, available from Amazon, details below.

Cards and words of sympathy may be sent to Gene's wife, Virginia Spangler, 139 Overlook Drive, Verona PA 15147.

In fond memory of Gene Hirsch,  
Mary Ricketson

Dr. Eugene Hirsch, Gene, to all who know him, has extended to me the privilege of editing his poetry, an assignment I accepted with pleasure. This collection, “Speak, Speak,” is the culmination of Gene’s long career of writing, and reflects the complexity of his mind and experience. As a physician/writer he joins a distinguished list, and in my opinion as a reader/editor, he earns his place among the others, notably Maugham, Chekhov, William Carlos Williams.
Judith R Robinson, editor

Friday, July 10, 2020

Not out of Print - find it here

A poem from Now Might as Well be Then

                        A Very Old Photograph
                             Glenda Council Beall 
Shy with the camera,
she stands in her white sailor dress
one arm behind her back.
Her dark eyes, so much like mine,
glance right. Her lips almost smile.

I wish I had known her then.
We’d have been friends,
going to pound suppers, singing
alto in the church choir.
She was loved as I was loved,
sheltered by Mama, strengthened
by her Papa’s expectations.

How could she have imagined ageing?
Certainly not at fourteen
and looking so lovely.
She never thought she’d grow old,
lose her memory, and depend on me,
her daughter, to care for her.

From Now Might As Well Be Then (Finishing Line Press, 2009)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Karen Paul Holmes on video

I am sharing this video of Karen Paul Holmes reading poetry from her most recent book. I have watched it several times and I hope you like it.

I found this reading comforting to me at this time, but there is no mention of COVID 19. The book was written before we ever heard of this deadly virus
I like Karen's voice and she is such a lovely person inside and out. 

"Karen Paul Holmes lifts up the extraordinary found in the everyday. Here are poems that brim with finely-crafted detail, anchored to place while at the same time embracing change and impermanence." -- Poet Nancy Chen Long

Friday, November 22, 2019

Literary Hour Finale for 2019 starred three outstanding writers.

Thursday evening was our last Literary Hour at the Folk School for 2019. Three NCWN members were featured. 

Meagan Lucas from Hendersonville, NC who is also our NCWN-West Rep from Henderson County led off the program with excerpts from her debut novel Songbirds and Stray Dogs. Some in the audience said they came especially to hear from a fiction writer. We hope to hear more from Meagan in the coming months. Her book has been very well received by readers and she has been acclaimed as a bright new southern writer.

Linda Jones is a teacher at Young Harris College, but,she is also an outstanding and provocative poet. She said she went through a bad divorce a few years ago and still finds inspiration for poetry in that experience. As with most good poetry, the author finds not only the somber, but the humorous in life's challenges. 

Janice Moore, Clay County Representative for NCWN-West, taught for many years at Young Harris College. We were happy to see others who were on faculty there present for this reading. Janice should be a model for how to give a good poetry reading. Between poems she knows just what to say to pique the interest of the listener, and she might poke fun at herself or her poem before she reads.
Those of us who have known Janice and attended the critique she leads each month have been greatly influenced by her comments on our work and by her own writing.

Mary Ricketson

Mary Ricketson, former County Rep for Cherokee County, said this was her last evening to host the Literary Hour at the Folk School. She is extremely busy these days promoting her newest poetry book,  " Mississippi, The Story of Luke and Marian", a book of memory, conflicts and resolve. 

Everyone seemed to really enjoy the event on Thursday evening at the John C. Campbell Folk School. We are happy to promote the folk school in any way we can, and we appreciate their support of  writers in our state. 

Thanks Janice, Meagan, Linda and Mary for sending us out with thoughts to ponder as we made our way home through the mountains under the stars. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Karen Paul Holmes - presenter at A Day for Writers 2019

Karen Paul Holmes

Poet, Karen Paul Holmes, will be on the schedule for A Day for Writers, a one day writers conference in Sylva, NC on Saturday, August 24.

This conference, sponsored by the NC Writers' Network-West, is held in the lovely setting of the Jackson County Regional Public Library, Old Courthouse Annex. 

Holmes is a teacher of poetry and an author of two poetry collections. Her work has appeared in many journals and reviews. Her session is titled Metaphors, Images and Similes, part of the language of poetry we poets  must know and understand.

To learn more about this conference, the presenters and cost, click on 
Netwest Writers.

An interview I did with Karen is published in The Bind

Thursday, July 11, 2019


A native of western North Carolina, Benjamin Cutler is an English and creative writing teacher at Swain County High School in the southern Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina.

Benjamin Cutler
Benjamin is also a husband, a father of four, and he currently serves as the North Carolina Writers Network-West Swain County representative. In this position, he holds a monthly free meeting for writers and poets, open to the public, in Bryson City, North Carolina. 

When he’s not reading, writing, or playing with his children, Benjamin can be found on the creeks and trails of his mountain home. He loves the rivers and streams of the mountains.  

His full-length poetry book, The Geese Who Might be Gods, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing Company (2019).

–Pat Riviere-Seel, author of Nothing Below but Air & The Serial Killer’s Daughter says of Ben's poetry book, "At the heart of this collection are relationships in all their complexity – family, friends, students, and the natural world, especially our relationships with the nonhuman creatures. One poem concludes that a turkey vulture is “…not so different / from the rest of us / with your belly full of dead things / and your endless hungry search.” These poems may be an “endless hungry search,” but the reader will come away sated.

Ben will be in Hayesville,NC on Friday evening, July 26, at the Corner Coffee Shop on the square with Brent Martin, naturalist, writer and owner of Alarka Expeditions. Ben will be interviewed and will share some of his work from his latest book.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Writing about Poetry Today

I hear from writers who say this time of year they just can't get motivated or inspired to write. I think that it is universal. When we spend time in our homes because of the weather, we find other things we need to do or want to do and just put off writing.

I found a wonderful site tonight that should give writers and poets plenty to think about and possibly to write about. Twenty-Five of the best poetry writing prompts had me making notes by those listed so I can write a poem or a story that the prompt uncovered deep in my mind.

Visit this site and let me know if you found anything that jolted a memory or an image for you.

One of my poems was accepted yesterday for publishing in April during the Poetry Parade on The editor, Jayne Jaudon Ferrer has gone a great job with this site.

She says: This site exists for one purpose only: to help dispel the ugly myth that poetry is boring. Granted, a lot of poetry is boring, but you won't find it here. At Your Daily Poem, you'll find poetry that is touching, funny, provocative, inspiring, and surprising. It may punch you in the gut, it may bring tears to your eyes, it may make you laugh out loud, but it most assuredly will not bore you.

If you subscribe, you will receive a poem sent to you daily. 
Go the Archives of Your Daily Poem. Under the Bs in authors you will find my name.
Read other poems by me that were published and sent out to subscribers of Your Daily Poem. If you are a poet, think about sending one of your poems to Jayne at

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Poetry and Poets

To have great poets, there must be great audiences. 
                                                   ... Walt Whitman, American Poet

What comes first, the great poets or the great audiences? We need audiences who are hungry for good poetry?.

It is said that no one buys poetry books except other poets. If poets turn out to hear a poet read from her original poetry book, and the poets like that poet, they usually are good audiences and often purchase books.

People who don't like poetry and have not read a poem since high school or college English classes, can become poetry fans if they hear a poet whose writing they relate to. I dragged my husband, Barry, out to hear Billy Collins when he appeared in our area. He was surprised to find that he really enjoyed Collins' poetry, but he admitted that he also liked the delivery of the poet and his humor.

Barry also liked my poetry and attended most of my readings. Most of us like accessible poetry - verses that we understand without having to read and dissect each line to try to figure what the poet is trying to say to us in very concise and poetic language. Billy Collins wrote a funny poem about a poetry critique and the way-out images and language a poet used in hopes of making his verses sound super-intelligent but, in actuality, made the poet sound like a pompous ass.

Learned poets enjoy the abstract poems with deep hidden meanings that take analyzing and repeated readings. To me, those poems don't make good readings because we are simply listening and can't read it again or pick each line apart and ponder over each word.

I like an enthusiastic audience where people feel welcome to applaud and show their enjoyment. I think a reading is not about convincing the audience that you are a great poet, but is about relating with the audience, making them like you, the poet, and sharing poetry that makes them smile or laugh or maybe get a lump in their throat. Remember, it is not what you say or what you do, but how you make them feel. That is what the audience will remember about you and your poetry.

I am sharing two poems by well-known poets that I like. I can hear Langston Hughes' mother's voice in the first poem. Hear Viola Davis read this poem on You Tube.

Mother to Son

Langston Hughes (1922)

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.  

Langston Hughes

Robert Frost was my first favorite poet. I saw him in person when he visited my college, Georgia State College for Women. I have CDs of him reading his work. I love his voice, the rhythm of each poem and the feelings he provokes with his concise language. His audiences were great, I'm sure.

Acquainted with the Night
Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain - and back in rain.
I have out walked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
and dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
when far away an interrupted cry
came over houses from another street,

but not to call me back or say good-bye;
and further still at an unearthly height,
one luminary clock against the sky

proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Writers' Night Out in Blairsville, Georgia

Each month on the second Friday evening, Karen Paul Holmes hosts a night for writers in Blairsville, GA. This event is sponsored by the NC Writers Network West, a program of the state literary organization created for the writers in the far western part of North Carolina and includes bordering counties of North Georgia.

Writers' Night Out: 
  • Friday, Aug 10, 7-8:30 pm
  • Featured readers: Mary Ricketson and Maren Mitchell
  • Followed by open mic*
  • Union County Community Center, Blairsville, GA 
  • Optional dinner or drink: The View Grill (arrive by 6 to order food)
*Note: We must vacate the room by 8:30 this year, so we reserve the right to limit the number of open mic readers to the first 10 who sign up at the door. Limit 3 minutes per reader. Please time yourself at home. This is normally 1 page of poetry or prose (12 pt Times New Roman). 

Maren O. Mitchell, an internationally published poet, has had poems in POEM, The Comstock Review, Slant, The Pedestal Magazine, Tar River Poetry, Poetry East, Hotel Amerika, The Lake (UK), Skive (AU), and many other literary journals. Her work is also included in The Crafty Poet II: a Portable Workshop; The World Is Charged: Poetic Engagements with Gerard Manley Hopkins; The Southern Poetry Anthologies, V & VII; Stone, River, Sky: An Anthology of Georgia Poems; and more. She has had two poems nominated for Pushcart Prizes and received a first-place award from the Georgia Poetry Society.

A North Carolina native, in her childhood Maren lived in France and Germany. Due to spinal cord surgery when forty, she spent many years learning how to live well in spite of chronic pain. She shares her experiences and advice in her nonfiction book, Beat Chronic Pain, An Insider’s Guide, (Line of Sight Press, 2012) .  For over thirty years, across five southeastern states, Maren has taught origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.

Mary Ricketson has been writing poetry 20 years. She is inspired by nature and her work as a mental health counselor. Her most recent full-length collection is Shade and Shelter: Poems of Breaking and Healing (Kelsay Books, 2018).  Her poetry has also been published in Wild Goose Poetry Review, Future Cycle Press, Journal of Kentucky Studies, Lights in the Mountains, Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, Red Fox Run, It’s All Relative, Old Mountain Press, Whispers, Voices, and two other books: I Hear the River Call my Name and Hanging Dog Creek. 

Currently Mary is using her own poetry to present empowerment workshops, combining roles as writer and her helping role as a therapist. Her writing and activities relate with nature, facilitate talk about a personal path and focus on growth in ordinary and unusual times. She also writes a monthly column, “Women to Women,” for The Cherokee Scout.

Mary is Cherokee County representative for North Carolina Writers’ Network-West, president of Ridgeline Literary Alliance, and an organic blueberry farmer.
Hope you'll come hear these two local poets. Come and read something of your own at Open Mic.