Sunday, April 26, 2009

How Do You Celebrate National Poetry Month?

Question: In the United States of America, April is National Poetry Month. As a practicing poet, do you celebrate National Poetry Month?

Nancy Simpson: Yes, I do celebrate from the first of April through the 30th of April. National Poetry Month is a special time of year for me and others like me. Our governmet thought well enough to set aside a month for all citizens to focus on and to celebrate poetry.

Question: How are you celebrating this month?


Nancy Simpson: On my website, I announced that Janice Townley Moore, in this her birth month, had been chosen as Poet of the Month for April 2009. As the days go by, more and more readers read her poems and comment. When a poet is featured on my site, it is not a one time thing, but rather short articles and an example of his or her poems throughout that month.

If you do not know of Janice Townley Moore, you should. She is a nationally known poet with her poems appearing in the best literary magazines. When Maya Angelou read her Inaugural Poem, all those years ago, The Associated Press knew who Janice Townley Moore was and called her to get a reaction to the Inaugural poem.

How else did you celebrate National Poetry Month?

Nancy Simpson: Each year different programs are planned. I hunt for them and attend them. Sometimes it seems nothing is planned, and that National Poetry Month is not even announced at a poetry reading, as if poets themselves do not even know, but my heart beats with joy and I celebrate all the more. On April 8th, N.C. Writers Network West's COFFEE WITH THE POETS featured 87 year old poet Dorothea Spiegel of Hiawassee, Georgia. She received a classical education and has been a practicing poet since in her teens. She read from a solid repertoire of the poems from her life, some traditional verse and some free verse. Her poetry is both hard hitting or humorous, and everyone there that day was amazed and thrilled.




FEATURED at COFFEE WITH THE POETS POET DOROTHEA SPIEGEL


Anything else exciting happen during National Poetry Month?


Nancy Simpson: Yes. One important thing happened to emerse me in a celebration of poetry. As Resident Writer at John C. Campbell Folk Scgool part of my job is to schedule the writing classes. With a secret plan of my own, and a smile in my heart, I scheduled myself to teach my once a year poetry class this year in April. I had to put my name down for two different months, one for What's In Your Writing Folder, a mixed genre writing class of poetry, essay, and short fiction. The other I consider my advanced poetry class for practicing poets. It was like giving myself a week long poetry celebration. The poets who traveled to the folk school were all advanced in their poetry writing. I will never forget the week of April 12-17, 2009. We read the work of major American poets,with a focus on Theorore Roethke and his famous poem, "Journey Into the Interior". The class was YOUR POETRY: JOURNEY INTO THE INTERIOR. What a way to celebrate national Poetry Month.


Virginia poet Robyn Reynolds


Poet, RUTH GRUBBS, from Tennessee "Under the Poet Tree"


Poet Barbara Groce from Morganton, Georgia


Poet Carole Richard Thompson of Blairsville, Georgia



Poet Karen Holmes from Atlanta, Georgia and Hiawassee, Georgia in the new writing studio at John C. Campbell Folk School.



A SPECIAL HIGHLIGHT OF MY WEEK APRIL 12-17 AT JOHN C. CAMPBELL FOLK SCHOOL Was having two local poet presenters visit my class. They were Appalachian poets Brenda Kay Ledford of Hayesville, NC and Glenda Barrett of Hiawassee, Georgia . They read their poems and talked about their private poetry lives.


Poet Glenda Barrett


WHAT'S THIS?


Nancy Simpson: It's April 17, 2009, S H O W A N D T E L L , The Friday exhibit at John C. Campbell Folk School. What always amazes me is when I ask students say from the Blacksmith class who made rooters how long they had been making roosters and every single one said, "I've never been in a blacksmith shop before." Another nice surprise was when the poets hung up their poems on display people came in droves to read them.






















JOHN C. CAMPBELL FOLK SCHOOL in Brasstown, NC




National Poetry Month is almost over. Is it over?


Nancy Simpson: No it is not. All the while when I was writing or teaching or celebrating National Poetry Month, I have been living the secret life of an editor. I have been reading submissions from writers throughout the lower Southern Appalachian Mountains who live within the NC Writers Network West area - reading their essays, short stories and their poems. My head is full of the big story of the wide mountains, the valley towns, farms, rivers, lakes, the deep woods, the creatures and the humans who live here. The letters of acceptance will go out the end of April or the first of May. If I had one wish it would be that I could tell all of these fine writers to hang on a few more days, word is coming.

And do let me end by saying that if you have not celebrated National Poetry Month as yet, check your local calendar. In Hayeville, North Carolina we will be celebrating a program I cofounded eighteen years ago with Reba Beck for the Clay County Arts Council. It is a poetry contest for students in the middle school, high school and adults who are citizens of Clay County. Each year I have been asked to choose the contest judge.



Glenda Barrett, Appalachian born and raised poet, author of WHEN THE SAP RISES will judge the April 2009 Potry Contests.

On April 30, 2009, National Poetry Month will be celebrated at 6:00 p.m., a one hour program in the Hayeville High School lecture Hall. With all the mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, you'll need to arrive early to get a seat. If you have not celebrated poetry this month, do come celebrate the poetry of our young poets and the poetry judge, Glenda Barrett, author of When the Sap Rises.

Or check your town's event calendar. Chances there is still a way for you to celebrate National Poetry Month.

5 comments:

karenh said...

great post, Nancy. Thank you for all the pictures and memories of a great week at the Folk School. Your class inspired me. You're a dedicated teacher and friend of poetry.

Anonymous said...

Nancy,
It gives me a warm feeling to see everyone that was in the class on your blog. I know that like myself you infected them with that contagious disease, POETRY!!!ha!
As I look at your pictures of Cherry Mountain, I think of the first time I ever saw it. Lynn Drew and I came up and you had just planted your garden.
Now, look at it, and the whole world is enjoying it. When someone asked me once, "How did you write a book? my answer was, "A little bit at a time!" It's a lot like gardening. Enjoyed your blog as usual. Glenda Barrett

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Nancy,
These are great photos of your students at the Folk School. I really enjoyed visiting your class. Thanks so much for asking me to speak with your students. You are really celebrating poetry this month. You are a great teacher and mentor to many of us.

Glenda said...

Nancy, what a great post. So much info, so many poets, and lovely photos. I suggest you link all your mentions of the folk school to the folk school. I certainly want them to see this post, don't you?
I know everyone there is proud of the work you do.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Nancy, you have the poem of the day on my laureate site, with a link to this great blog of yours.
Keep on keepin'on! K.