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Nancy Posey: Poet Interview

As some of you already know, Nancy Posey and Jane Shlensky are putting on the first ever face-to-face event focused on the Poetic Asides community (click here to learn more). Nancy had a few ideas for spreading the word, and I thought an interview would be a great way to handle it.

Nancy Posey

Nancy Posey

A native of Florence, Alabama, Nancy Posey has lived in North Carolina for 20 years. During her 25 years as an English instructor, both at secondary and college level, Nancy has been an avid reader and writer. Her book reviews and poems have appeared in a number of print and online publications. In addition to reading and writing, Nancy enjoys playing the mandolin and dabbling in art projects. Her first exhibit "Thousand Words: Images and Recollections" opened August 7 at the Bethlehem (NC) Branch Library.

By the way, Nancy's been interviewed a couple times previously on here:

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What are you currently up to?

With plans to move to Nashville (to be closer to family), I retired from my teaching job June 1. While we’re waiting for our home to sell, though, I’m staying busy. I’ve just had a great week at Swannanoa Old Time Music and Dance Week—with Jane Shlensky and her dulcimer too.

This summer I’m working on putting together a poetry collection, with help from my poetry group here in Hickory, and I’m polishing a little fiction too. I also have some of my art going up in an exhibit at the Bethlehem (NC) Branch Library August 7-24. While I was teaching at the community college, I had the good fortune to get to take classes, so I signed up for photograph, computer art (Photoshop), and printmaking. I’m hooked. I’m working on some prints to accompany my collection in progress, poems inspired by family stories and photographs.

I know many in the Poetic Asides audience are excited about the upcoming face-to-face poetry event in Hickory, North Carolina. Could you explain what that is and how it is coming along?

Since so many of us have developed friendships through PA, Jane Shlensky and I started batting around the idea of inviting everyone to North Carolina so we could meet and share. Hickory, NC, has such a great poetry community with support from the arts community, so we starting looking into the options. We have plans for what we’re calling “The Fall Face-to-Face in the Foothill” on Friday and Saturday, September 18-19 at the Hickory Museum of Art. We’ll have speakers, readings, and breakout sessions from about 9-5, breaking for dinner, and then meeting back at local venues for open mic sessions.

In addition to our fearless leader Robert Lee Brewer, we have the current poet laureate of North Carolina Shelby Stephenson, along with two past poets laureate, Kathryn Stripling Byer and Joseph Bathanti. Byer served as a judge for the April PAD Challenge this year, as did Scott Owens, who will also be a presenter. We also have Michael Beadle, who is one of the most entertaining poet presenters, and he’ll be talking about how to deliver poetry for an audience.

We’re encouraging all who attend to bring copies of their own books to sell and sign. So far, we have PAD-ers from all over the U.S. and Canada. I can’t wait to meet all these people who have become friends and a source of encouragement for the last several years.

Because so many are coming a long way, we intentionally kept registration low, just to cover use of the museum and light lunches both days, so for preregistration, the cost is only $50 and $60 on site. (We certainly prefer advance registration so we can estimate meals and space requirements.)

Registration can be made to me through Paypal (nposey27@gmail.com) or by mail to 4405 2nd St. Ln. NW, Hickory, NC 28601.

(Editor's note: Nancy included a link that has hotel information. Click to continue.)

For folks who aren't familiar with the area, could you share some great poetry (or non-poetry) attractions in the area?

In Hickory, every second Tuesday, Scott Owens hosts Poetry Hickory at Taste Full Beans coffee shop. He has a couple of featured poets and then an open mic. Most months one of the readers will also conduct a workshop beforehand.

You can hardly throw a stick in North Carolina without hitting a (good) poet. We are proud to claim NC the “writingest state.” We have an active state poetry society and NC Writers Network, as well as many successful small presses who publish lots of poetry. I’ve seen and heard so many of our state poets from these presses on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac.

We also think the options for day trips around here are great. Asheville, of course, is a mecca for artists, writers, and musicians. Anyone who hasn’t visited the Biltmore Estate should certainly plan a trip. Another nearby destination is Blowing Rock, an artist village (on which author Jan Karon based her Mitford novels), is a favorite getaway, with lots of shops, restaurants, a nice little park and a new museum. Weekend evenings you can bring your chairs and enjoy live music too.

Of course, Charlotte is just an hour away with all kinds of fun things to do.

A favorite poet nobody knows—who is it?

I could give you the longest list of NC poets. Lots of people know Ron Rash’s fiction, but not his poetry. I first discovered Eureka Mill based on the mill town where his family worked when they left the mountains.

Since I taught literature for so many years, I was always discovering new poets. My poetry essay directions specified that students chose a living poet. This helped them to discover that poetry was very much alive. It also prevented plagiarized or rehashed papers on Frost or Poe or Dickinson.

Best experience related to poetry—what is it?

Winning the November Chapbook Challenge in 2009 with Let the Lady Speak was such a highlight, pushing me to do more with my writing. I think I love the social aspect of poetry. For me, writing does not need to be a lonely endeavor.

Could you share a piece of advice for fellow poets?

Be sure to go to poetry readings--and buy the poets' books. I try to buy two copies (signed) of the same chapbook or collection: one for me and one to share with a friend. That way, I can help other people discover up and coming poets I hear.

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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer's Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World's Problems (Press 53). He'll be presenting at the Fall Face-to-Face event mentioned above. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

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