Appalachian Writers

Appalachian Writers

glenda beall

(Photo by Valorie Luhr)

It’s been three years since I first met Glenda Beall. We submitted one of Chitter’s poems to a Poetry Contest for children-Chitter didn’t win a prize-but through the contest we won a friend for life-Glenda Beall. From the first time I heard Glenda read one of her poems-I was hooked on her writing. It resonates with me in a way that’s hard to describe-her poems weave their way into my mind and come back to me at the oddest moments-always comforting me with the knowledge that she’s walked many of the same roads of life I have.

Glenda recently published a new book of poetry Now Might As Well Be Then-I thought this would be a great time to interview her for my Appalachian Writers Series.

When did you start writing?

I began writing when I was very young. I always loved opening a pack of Blue Horse paper and sharpening my pencils for school. I can still remember the thrill of having a fresh clean sheet of paper before me. As a little girl I built a place in the chinaberry tree behind our house where I could climb up among the leaves, sit and write while birds flew in and out of the branches around me.

Is there one person who stands out in your mind-who encouraged you along the way?

I kept my writing to myself until I was in high school and college and then I shared it with my sister, June and her husband, Stan. They were supportive, but it wasn’t until I moved to Hayesville, NC in 1995 and met Nancy Simpson that I began to read my work for others and share my poetry. Nancy’s classes for the next several years,  helped me to finally have the courage to believe in myself as a writer. However, I was of the age by then that I’d never reach the goals I’d had as a child.

Your most recent book is a book of poetry-do you write other genres as well?

I write personal essays, memoir and recently have begun submitting short stories for publication. A couple of short stories have appeared in online journals.
You also teach writing classes and work for Netwest-could you tell me about both?
I was inspired by Nancy Simpsonto help others who were like me – writers in secret but who were not confidant enough to submit work or share it. I teach at the John C. Campbell Folk School and at Tri-County Community College, but I have begun a new venture teaching at my house in my writing studio. Our first class is April 6, and I’ll teach several more classes from now until September. We are also having guest teachers at Writers Circle, which is what I call my studio and my program.
I joined the North Carolina Writers Network in 1995 when I moved here. That made me a member of NCWN West (Netwest)a chapter of the state organization. In 2007,  I accepted the leadership of Netwest and enjoyed meeting the many members we have throughout the western part of North Carolina and bordering counties of South Carolina and North Georgia. I resigned as Program Coordinator last year when my husband passed away, but now serve as Clay County Representative for NCWN West. This organization has been most influential in my writing success. Through the website, www.netwestwriters.blogspot.com our mountain writers have gained recognition throughout the state and all over the country.
You haven’t always lived in Appalachia-and yet much of your writing reminds me of my childhood here in the mountains-why do you think your writing resonates with so many folks in Appalachia?
I found a kinship with people in Appalachia because I had much the same culture growing up in southwest Georgia in the fifties and sixties. My father was a farmer and I grew up in a rural community, enjoying many of the same good things you and others here in Clay County enjoy. We always had a wonderful garden each year. My father butchered hogs when I was little, and we had a smoke house where hams. bacon and other good stuff was cured. We attended country churches and my brothers sang gospel music at all-day sings. My friends and I rode horses on Saturdays. We held square dances in the loft of a barn on our farm. I loved the simple life where I grew up, and I see some of it still in the southern Appalachians.
Where can people find your latest book?
My poetry book, Now Might As Well Be Then, is available from me, from Carolina Crafting in Brasstown, from Shrimps in Hayesville, from your local bookstores (they can order it from www.finishinglinepress.com) and it is available on www.Amazon.com.
Are there up coming events in your writing career you’d like to share?
On Tuesday, April 6,  I am judging the poetry submissions for the annual Clay County Arts and Poetry Contest and I’ll be reading at the awards ceremony that evening at the high school in Hayesville, NC.
Friday, April 9, I will be reading at Mountain Perk in Hiawassee, GA at 7:00 p.m.
I am excited to be teaching and holding classes in writing at my studio in Hayesville, beginning with a class on Tuesday, April 6 and continuing throughout the summer. We have several guest instructors lined up also. I will be teaching again at Tri-County Community College in Murphy, NC in June.
When you think of Appalachia what comes to mind?
I should have been born here in the mountains. I love the climate, the friendly, down to earth people, the fact that every time I look out of my window the scene before me changes with the shadows on the mountains. The sky will change from light to dark in a few minutes, and at night it becomes a blue-black backdrop for millions of stars. I love the birds of all sizes and shapes that come to my feeders and light in my trees, especially the piliated woodpeckers, the hawks and doves, and the yellow finches that swarm in here in spring. Most of all, when I go away and come back, I feel a peace settle over me at my first glimpse of a mountain range. I am at home here.
I’ve selected 2 poems from Glenda’s new book to share with you.
Tomato Man
Ruby tomatoes in small tan baskets
beg me to buy my lunch. Overalled
and raisin brown, he sits slumped
on the tailgate of a rusty red pickup,
his floppy hat a shade against the burning sun.
Will the two dollar baskets buy
groceries to take home to the waiting
wife who helped him pick the plump fruit?
Or will he go by Bernie’s Quik Stop
buy a six pack or two, and cigarettes
that stain his teeth, tar his lungs?
He thanks me for my business, but his faded
eyes belie a mind that’s somewhere else.
Today takes care of today. Tomorrow
he’ll be here again, the tomatoes
redder, softer, a few fresh ones
sprinkled in, to appeal to people
who smile, and speak,
but never see him.
Blackberry Patch
Mother’s voice rises above my bawling.
“Stop pitching a fit and get your bucket.”
I plant myself on the top step
bare feet refusing to move.
My dread lies coiled deep in the brambles.
He slithered out when I thrust my hand
in to grab a plump one.
Fear-prickled, I danced in terror,
then streaked home screaming.
An ominous cloud shadows the sky.
Fat raindrops plop in the yard dust.
Reprieve. Blessed reprieve.  
I hope you enjoyed the interview. And if you liked Glenda’s poems-I highly encourage you to buy her book-cause it’s full of good ones.
Tipper

 

You Might Also Like

16 Comments

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    August 23, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Glenda is a jewel when it comes to poems. I like her short stories as well : the old saying they get under your skin and simple terms where the rubber meets the road. Oh by the way Glenda is a jewel when it comes to being a friendly mountaiin lady now.

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    April 16, 2010 at 2:38 am

    Thank you, David, and others who made such nice comments about my poetry. It is a pleasure to write something that others relate to and know my feelings have touched others through my words.
    Poetry is a means of communication using few words,but exact words to convey our meaning.
    Thanks again, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Becky
    April 6, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Interesting lady.
    And to have hidden her talent for so long. I’m so glad she is living a childhood dream.

  • Reply
    June
    April 3, 2010 at 8:28 am

    I love Glenda’s poetry and I thank you for the interview, Tipper. You see I have a special interest in Glenda since I’ve known her from her first beginning and many a night I’ve rocked her to sleep. She was a sweet baby. I’m her big sister, June, and I’m so very proud of her.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    April 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Well, she is very good, isn’t she. Her poetry is crisp and full of sparks for my imagination and my feeling.
    What is that feeling? In the summer I lie down on my back, for a long time, alone, on a sundrenched hillside, insects buzzing and a crow cawing somewhere off over there and I look up at the sky and the billowy clouds and I feel good and happy and free, for that moment, from the tug of main life. Her writing does much the same for me.
    No mechanical writing here, no Harcourt exactness; just a mind pouring forth her imagination into pleasure for all who read her thoughts (I started to say “for all who read her work” but work isn’t the right word for what she does, it doesn’t sound like she’s working, struggling for correctness, carefully piecing together hackneyed phrases, checking this rule or that). No, it’s her mind, opened and just put out on some paper as she feels it.
    She is a good writer and it seems natural, else I would just see the words and not feel the daydream.

  • Reply
    Janet
    April 2, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    I enjoyed the interview. I love to write about Appalachia, too. Enjoyed the poem about blackberry picking, except I loved to pick when I was a child and I still love to pick the juicy black fruit.

  • Reply
    Mary
    April 1, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    I admire your ability to write from within and the courage in sharing your inner beauty woven poetically in words and bound to be shared.
    I am looking forward to meeting you as well as hosting this great event!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 1, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Hey, I can tell Glenda is a mountain girl at heart. The poems are beautiful and warm to the heart. Thanks for the interview.
    I wrote a story about the mountains when I was in college. I believe these mountains call people who belong here and they reject people who do not belong here, even if they were born here. My story was titled “Of The Mountains” I love the mountains and I guess it shows.
    Anyway, thanks Glenda for sharing with us and thanks for befriending Tipper, she is a very special woman!

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    March 31, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Many thanks to Tipper for featuring me on her wonderful blog. I appreciate the comments on my poetry. There is something about these mountains that brings out the creativity in all of us, I think. I hope to meet any of you who are local (near Hayesville) at one of my readings this summer. I will be in Hickory, NC in August for Hickory Poetry.
    Visit me on my blog, http://www.profilesandpedigrees.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    March 31, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I remember that Blue Horse paper, Glenda!
    Lovely poems — nice insight into the tomato man — and I know my boys could identify with the blackberry poem!

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Thomas
    March 31, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    WE won’t be able to buy tomatoes again from the roadside without thinking about what this poem says. I could again see in my mind the people selling them.

  • Reply
    betsyfromtennessee
    March 31, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Hi Glenda, I am an Appalachian gal too–having been born and raised in Southwest Virginia. I now live on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. When people ask me if I am a country gal—I say, YES–and especially a mountain gal!!!!
    Thanks Tipper for interviewing Glenda–and thanks Glenda for telling us more about you. I love your poems.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull WIke, Ph.D.
    March 31, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Hey Glenda: I will never buy another PLUMP red tomatoe without thinking of your beautiful poem! You are mighty lucky to live in Hayesville. The comment by EA, “I would love to live in WNC but I am too old now” kind of made me sad! I have so many precious memories of my formative years in the Matheson Cove. It was a rough life style of working from ‘daylight til dark’ but we (11 Children) all made it!
    Fondly,
    Eva Nell Mull, Ph.D.
    Author: “The Matheson Cove – In the Shadow of the Devil’s Post Office”

  • Reply
    E. Andrews
    March 31, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Nicely done, Glenda.
    Beautiful poems.
    Good luck with the upcoming busy schedule.
    EA

  • Reply
    sallie covolo
    March 31, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I enjoyed the Poems, Tomato Man and blackberry Patch.
    I wish I could live in WNC again but am too old now, but at least can enjoy poems and such that bring up wonderful memories of A Carolina Mountain childhood and youth,
    We have planted somewhat of a garden in our back yard. I wish we had bought some tomato plants.
    Just today my friend (who was from Burnsville, NC originally) and I were talking about how good home grown tomatoes are with mayonaise.

  • Reply
    JoLyn
    March 31, 2010 at 11:18 am

    What fun it must have been to do this interview. And I love Glenda’s poems–such a “real”, true-to-life quality about them. I will be looking forward to reading more of her work!

  • Leave a Reply