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"Soulfully beautiful."
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Act 5, Scene 1: Irene's Twilight Zone

Act 5, Scene 1: Irene’s Twilight Zone See whole poem, "The Main Show," and index of scenes.  (Spotlight opens on the lobby of the theater.  Characters who remain in the lobby enter the theater, which remains dark.  Joan the nurse tells the tour guide to also go in, and the narrator hangs back awhile.) Joan: Go ahead in. I’ll stay with my patient.Anyway, this is a family…See More
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Julia Nunnally Duncan at Little Switzerland Books and Beans

August 30, 2019 from 3pm to 6pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be a featured author at Little Switzerland Books and Beans on Friday, August 30, from 3-5. A book signing will follow. Julia will read from her latest books A Neighborhood Changes, A Part of Me, and A Place That Was Home.See More
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Guide to Antebellum Flat Rock

"The introduction of my new publication, Guide to Antebellum Flat Rock will be launched on Sept 14 2019 at 1:30 PM at the Henderson County Court House 500 Main Street. A talk and a brief slide show follows with refreshments afterward. …"
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Nancy Werking Poling at Black Mountain Library

June 15, 2019 from 3pm to 4pm
Can women rescue the planet from ecological disaster?Nancy Werking Poling will launch her new novel, WHILE EARTH STILL SPEAKS, set in WNC. She'll tell the stories behind the story: How did Mary (more crone than virgin) get into the narrative? And Mary Surratt, a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth?See More
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Flat Rock history via a road

Travelling back in time on a Flat Rock roadby Rob Neufeld             If you walk the one mile length of North Highland Lake Road in Flat Rock, you step nearly 200 years into the past.            At the east end, the 21st century reigns.  Fronting six-lane Spartanburg Highway, a super-Ingles sits above a bog; and a CVS store faces an Octopus Garden smoke shop, a chiropractor, a cell phone provider, and a six-lane avenue to I-26 a mile away .            Neither Ingles nor CVS carries the big…See More
Apr 8

A native’s honed poetry reveals a cultural landscape

by Rob Neufeld 

Home by Nancy Dillingham (March Street Press, trade paper, Sept. 2010, 61 pages, 9)

In her sixth book of poems, Home, Big Ivy (Barnardsville) native Nancy Dillingham captures the essence of a mountain woman through forty-four variations.

One poem, “Pioneer Woman,” invokes that figure as a muse: “I think of you…when you waited/ in a cold cabin/ for a step…”

` Another talks third person about a granny woman,” shrunken like a doll,” tending a garden and “hocus-pocusing small children/ giving off puffs of arcane charm.”

Dillingham’s music varies from haiku description to Whitmanesque song of life to jazz. She cuts her lines to make clear phrases, giving her the flexibility to sound matter-of-fact or flashy.

“Dressed up/ like she was going/ to see Jay Gould,” the poem, “In Her Photograph,” begins—her “hair swept up in combs.”

It’s hard to say those lines without some attitude in the vowels. The poem continues with riffs and reaches a superb sound-ending.

From the position Dillingham has chosen—involved observer of her culture and accomplished quilter of words—she is able to present tall tales (“Big Toe Tale”), woman’s sagas (“The Short Life”), and epigrams (“Burial: The Art of Dying”).

Her modesty as a poet, saying what she sees, means that some of the poems are slight. It’s part of the mix. It’s the haiku-type impulse, in which commonplace revelation takes the place of drama.

Dillingham is most stunning when she crosses a fantasy line in her metaphors. There are places between allegory and literal telling that sound like the best folk songs and look like the aha moments in fairy tales.

In “The Crow Knows,” a woman in the woods spies a crow’s nest with a ribbon from a funeral in it. The woman sees herself, “her hair down/ billowing against the pillow/ unadorned yet lit by light// and just in her sight/ dark-winged sorrow sits/ unwinding the long red ribbon of joy.”

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Thanks so much, Rob!
Nancy's new book shows a talent coming into its own. The poems are sure-footed, often stunning in their turns, both imagistic and narrative, and even poems that might be called "slight" have a resonance that lingers and haunts. She often writes in the "sad minor key" in which so many of our ballads are cast, but these poems are not by any menas minor. I will be featuring some of them on my blog soon. (
Congratulations, Nancy!
Thank you so much, Kay! I am very appreciative of your remarks--and of your encouragement and support. It means so very much to me.


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