Friday, June 3, 2016

Kimberly Simms at Southern Fried Poetry Slam

This week I am travelling to Greensboro, NC for the South East Regional Southern Fried Poetry Slam from June 8th - 12th 2016. I will be hosting/emceeing four-team competitive bouts as part of the 32 city regional tournament.  



The entire festival will take place in the Downtown Greensboro Arts district from June 8-12, 2016 and will include, in addition to the central competition, daily themed open mics, a poetry picnic, community service, youth poetry slam and more. The Southern Fried Poetry Slam is the largest regional poetry slam in the country.

This will be my tenth year participating in Southern Fried! I first participated in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 1997 as part of The Greenville Slam Team at the Downhome in Johnsonville, TN as part of the 5th Annual South Easter Regional Slam first started by Allan Wolfe. 

What was the Downhome like? Check out this video live from the stage in 1998. And maybe you can even guess which female slam poet is the subject of this poem (ok - its me - lol).



In 1998, I was a member of the championship slam team that won the 1998 Southern Fried South East Regional Poetry Slam held in Greenville, SC. 

Before retiring from active competition, I was a member of the first all-women slam team in the nation, The Greenville Slam Team 1997-1998. In 2002, I resurrected the slam as the Upstate Slam Team, and I was the slammaster from 2003 to 2008. I was a competing member of the Upstate Slam Teams 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2008 (six National Poetry Slam Teams).

In 2014, myself, Moody Black, and Kimbi the Goddess plus a whole heap of amazing folks - organized the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in Greenville, SC: http://www.goupstate.com/article/20140601/ent/406011013

This year South Carolina will send slam teams from the following cities to Southern Fried: Upstate, Spartanburg, Columbia, and Charleston.

More information about our local slam can be found at www.witsendpoetry.com

Note: Kimberly attended the following Southern Fried Poetry Slam's: 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 20014, 2016

Kimberly was on the organizing committee for the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 1998, 2005, and 2014.
Kimberly was the acting tournament director for the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 2004 (Miami), 2005 (Charlotte), 2006 (Birmingham). She was the finals co-host in Birmingham, Alabama. She was the back stage manager in 2004, 2005, and 2014 Southern Fried Finals.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Kimberly Simms featured on BRCC TV Education Channel



Kimberly Simms was recently featured on BRCC Educational Channel as part of her main stage reading at the Blue Ridge Bookfest in Hendersonville,NC. You can see the full video, which includes a presentation by Ginger Cox on Carl Sandburg - or the poetry begins at 31:00.

https://youtu.be/YN8Z1HsgRyg

Kimberly Simms is the 2016 Carl Sandburg Writer-in-Residence as awarded by the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site and the Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

2016 Carl Sandburg Writer-In-Residence Kimberly Simms



Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site and the Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara are pleased to announce the 2016 Carl Sandburg Writer-in-Residence, Kimberly Simms. The writer for 2016 is a poet.

Thanks to the Times-News in Hendersonville for publishing this wonderful article about Kimberly Simms - including a video! 

http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20160413/NEWS/160419946

Meet Kimberly
A welcoming reception for Ms. Simms will be held on Monday, April 18 at the Henderson County Public Library Downtown in Hendersonville, NC from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. This reception is part of the North Carolina Writer's Network Open Mic Night. Kimberly will share a selection of her poetry along with other writers in the community. The public is welcome.
Ms. Simms will also appear at the Carl Sandburg Student Poetry Contest Celebration on Friday, April 15 at 7:00 p.m. at Blue Ridge Community College, Patton Building Room 150. The public is welcomed to join in the recognition of the students as they are honored for their winning poems.

The residency will last from April 6th to April 26th to coincide with National Poetry Month. As part of the program, Ms. Simms will work with fieldtrip groups, local schools and colleges, as well as make a number of public appearances. On April 7th, she will meet with local Greenville county students from Northwest Middle School as part of their fieldtrip to The Carl Sandburg House.
Most recently, Kimberly has been sharing her love of poetry in local Greenville schools as a teaching artist through the Metropolitan Arts Council’s SMART Arts program. In 2016, she was also added to the Humanities Council of South Carolina’s Literary Speaker's Bureau. Through this program, Kimberly Simms is available to visit your community group or school to share her literary knowledge and passion.

Kimberly Jane Simms has been sharing her poems with a variety of audiences since she started running poetry slams in her twenties. She was a member of the Greenville Slam Team that won the South East Regional Poetry Slam in 1998. Since then she has gone on to gain recognition from both esteemed literary editors, as well as live audiences. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals such as Poem, The South Carolina Review, The Asheville Poetry Review, Kakalak, and Eclipse. She has been a featured performer and reader internationally at festivals and venues including the Battersea Arts Center London, The Institute of Contemporary Arts London, The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, The Peace Center, and Artisphere, as well as numerous other arts establishments and universities. She is currently finishing her first young adult novel. You can learn more about her at her website www.kimberlysimms.com or follow her on twitter @witsendpoetry.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Kimberly Simms Named to SC Humanities Speaker's Bureau!


One of the Council’s longstanding program priorities for the SC Humanities Council is the Speakers Bureau. Through this program, some of South Carolina’s finest scholars travel throughout the state to share their interests and knowledge of the humanities and to spark discussions about human values, traditions and cultures.

In February 2016, the SC Humanities Council added Greenville poet and former GCSD teacher to its prestigious roster. A full listing of Kimberly Simms' talks are listed below.


Schools, non-profits, and libraries are eligible to bring speaker's to their communities at no cost to them by filling out this simple, one page application! http://schumanities.org/projects/speakers/sbapplication/ 


Further information about the program is available here: http://schumanities.org/projects/speakers/speakers-faq/

A full list of speaker's is available here: http://schumanities.org/projects/speakers/speakers-list/

You can read Kimberly's full list of talks below. The honorarium for the talk includes any one of the following at no cost to the group:


Community Festival Reading:

 This fee covers up to a 45 minute reading and performance plus a Q&A session.

Conference Workshop:  
This fee covers up to one 60 minute adult workshop including handouts plus Q&A 
and informal receptions or lunches


School Assembly Reading up to 2 assemblies: 
        This fee covers up to two 35 minute readings plus 10 minute Q&A sessions.

Classroom visits: 
         This fee covers visits up to 4 classroom workshops on one day for up to 50 minutes each. Each class should be no more than 30 students.

Kimberly Simms
While dedicating some of her time between her work as a teaching artist and her writing for young adults, Kimberly Simms is an award winning poet in her own right. She was recently named as the 2016 Carl Sandburg Writer-In-Residence. Poem, The South Carolina Review, The Asheville Poetry Review, Kakalak, and Eclipse. She has been a featured performer and reader internationally at festivals and venues including the Battersea Arts Center London, The Institute of Contemporary Arts London, The Chopin Theater Chicago, The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, The Peace Center, the LEAF Festival, and Artisphere, as well as numerous other arts establishments and universities. She is currently finishing her first young adult novel.
Simms is primarily inspired by the history and people of the South. Simms holds a Masters in English from Clemson University with a Creative Writing Thesis on the textile mills of South Carolina. Kimberly Jane Simms has been sharing her poems with a variety of audiences since she started running poetry slams in her twenties. She was a member of the Greenville Slam Team that won the South East Regional Poetry Slam in 1998. Since then she has gone on to gain recognition from both esteemed literary editors, as well as live audiences. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals such as

TOPICS
A Poetry Reading: Discovering South Carolina through poetry. (Grades 4 -12 OR Adults.)
This reading, led by poet Kimberly Simms, connects audiences to the excitement of contemporary poetry. Kimberly Simms will share a variety of original and well known engaging poems that explore the life and history of South Carolina. Kimberly Simms has garnered recognition for her poetry not only from esteemed literary journals, but also from national poetry festivals. Her poems have been featured on both television, radio, and in print. For libraries, this reading can include book talks from tailored to that library’s collection. The reading will finish with a question and answer session.
A Festival Reading: A Poetic Journey through South Carolina (All Ages)
This poetry reading and performance will present a variety of original poems that will appeal to a broad audience on themes related to South Carolina. These poems are family friendly and entertaining to all ages. Audiences will enjoy crowd favorites such as Simms’ Turner Speaks My South poem “My South’s Boys” and her inspirational “Small Spaces.” This collection of light, lively, and humorous poems are a great way to bring the poetic arts to your community festival.  Simms has been featured at The Red, White, and Blue Festival (Greenville, SC), Artisphere Festival (Greenville, SC), The TRAM Festvial (Travelers Rest, SC), The Art on the Trail Festival (Travelers Rest, SC), The LEAF Festival (Asheville, NC,) and many more. The reading will finish with a question and answer session.
Celebrating Carl Sandburg: Hands on Poetry Experience (K-8)This workshop weaves together history and poetry to explore Southern themes through the poetry of Carl Sandburg. After introducing Carl Sandburg, Kimberly Simms will lead the group in a poetry writing AND/OR theater activity inspired by Carl Sandburg’s poetry. This experience can be tailored for different age groups and experience levels.  Kimberly Simms is the 2016 Carl Sandburg Writer-In-Residence. The reading will finish with a question and answer session.
Talking to Disaster: Finding healing through poetry. (Adults)After a disaster, communities find comfort in poems that speak to their sense of loss. Whether dealing with personal grief or processing a disaster, individuals can be overwhelmed with emotions. Yet a special type of healing comes from reading and hearing words that echo your own complex feelings. In this reading and discussion, poet Kimberly Simms will share poems on disaster and grief to provide a medium for dialogue. Attendees will be encouraged to find a sense of community through discussion of contemporary poetry.  This dialogue can be tailored to help communities deal with specific events.
Poetic Perspectives: Exploring the humanities through poetry. (K-12 OR Adults)In this workshop, poet and educator Kimberly Simms will lead attendees in writing monologue style poems in the voice of a favorite literary character or historical figure. This workshop works particularly well when exploring a pre-chosen work of fiction or historical figure as part of a larger celebration, conference, or unit. The workshop includes a pre-writing activity, a craft lesson, and examples to scaffold all writing levels. The workshop will finish with sharing and a brief discussion.
Cooking up Poetry: Writing recipe poems. (K-12 OR Adults)In this delicious workshop, poet and educator Kimberly Simms will lead attendees in writing their own “recipe” style poems. Attendees will also discuss several sample poems to help them explore ideas about food and life. The workshop includes a structured poetic form and a craft lesson so that writers of any level can participate. The workshop will finish with time for sharing and discussion.
Poetry Slam: Putting performance into contemporary poetry. (Grades 4-12 OR Adults)In this hands-on workshop, poet and educator Kimberly Simms will lead attendees in performing well-known contemporary poems or pre-written original poems. The workshop will feature a short craft lesson on voice and blocking. The workshop will also include a discussion on the history and current state of poetry slams. The session will end with an informal performance, as well as a question and answer session. Kimberly Simms is a certified slam master with the national organization Poetry Slam Inc. She is a former South East Regional Slam Champion (Greenville Slam Team 1998). She was a regional SC judge for the 2016 Poetry Out Loud Competition.


Community Festival Reading:

 This fee covers up to a 45 minute reading and performance plus a Q&A session.

Conference Workshop:  
This fee covers up to one 60 minute adult workshop including handouts plus Q&A 
and informal receptions or lunches

School Assembly Reading up to 2 assemblies: 
        This fee covers up to two 35 minute readings plus 10 minute Q&A sessions.

Classroom visits: 
         This fee covers visits up to 4 classroom workshops on one day for up to 50 minutes each. 
          Each class should be no more than 30 students.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Black History Month: A poem in celebration of Mae Jemison

I wrote this poem in celebration of the Endeavor Shuttle mission of Mae Jemison, the first woman of color in space.  This poem is written from the point of view of Mae Jemison, and it merges the factual with my own poetic imagination. This poem is the first in a series of poems about famous Americans aimed at middle grades students.


Mae Jemison Counts Down Aboard the 1992 Endeavor Shuttle




My blood pumps itself to a distant planet.
My brain is a supernova. My skin is a million stars.
The orange straps across my suit are bright as a fire.
I’m thinking of Grandmother, the swish, swish, swish

of her broom on that Alabama porch, the hot grits
bubbling on the stove, the smell of biscuits and bacon.
On an autumn evening, we’d slowly launch ourselves
in the swing, our feet rising across the pumpkin moon.

The year of my birth, 1956, Alabama still called segregation
separate but equal. My school teacher mama wanted more.
Her and daddy moved us to blue Chicago
to spirit, to hope, to zeal, to inspiration.

Grandmother’s tiny Alabama dreams never imagined 127 orbits
of the Earth.  Mission control is counting slowly down
and this Endeavor will shoot me into history
like a blazing star. What new horizons will I find

in a thousands years of blackness. The earth
and all its heavy history fall. I float, an impossible
dream, a black woman in a white NASA Suit,
an Alabama child with the whole world in her hands.


#blackhistorymonth #ya #youngadult #middlegrades #teaching #maejemsion #poem #poetry

I recently performed this poem for the students, teachers, and parents at the Poetry Out Loud Regional Competition in Spartanburg, SC at Spartanburg Community College. Sponsored by Hub City.






*Mae Jemison was not interviewed in regards to this poem, so the details of what she may have been thinking about while she waited to launch into space are wholly from my imagination. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Snow in the Upstate of SC

In honor of our little snow adventure, I wrote a few light verses just for fun.







Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Poems inspired by the Textile History of SC



Lindy Lee: Songs on Mill Hill

An unpublished collection


Yesterday, I had a great visit to the Courtney Mill in Newry, SC. Historic building are a great inspiration to me for poems that speak to the people and context of South Carolina. I am looking forward to writing some new poems on the rich textile history of the Upstate.

But in the meantime, here are a few of my textile mill poems that have already been published.  I am now sending the manuscript out for publication as a chapbook. The poems tell the story of Lindy Lee, a fictional mill worker, and her life and family. The poems are based on historical research as well as interviews with family members who worked in Poe Mill and Union Bleachery. I also toured the Courtney Mill in Newry, SC and village,which inspired many of the poems. 

Photo by Dede Norungolo.

Dip


Doctor said it would make me grow. 
That first time, chaw flipped my stomach.
But all the mill girls dip. My sisters
swear the thick stew keeps out the lint.

When the girls came up, they had spittoons
but now we bring our own little jars.
I ain’t never seen a girl smoke a cigarette.
Miss Rena would say it was unladylike.







Photo by Gordon Magee. https://flic.kr/ps/2qqwpH

Jerome’s Silence


Silence is a pause between shifts,
a Sunday dawn, it ain’t a commodity
but it’s rarer than gold.

Farmers got a sense about snakes
they hear the tremor of the grass,
the slight zither.

The looms are so stretched out
they shriek and jerk like sinners
in the fires of hell.

I know the sound of moth’s wings.
I’ve heard the first cricket of spring,
a lifetime back I had the clarity of silence.

 “Dip 1929,” “Hop Along Little Crow,” “Jerome’s Silence.” The South Carolina Review. Vol 42.2. Clemson, SC: Clemson UP, 2010.



Photo by Gordon Magee. https://flic.kr/ps/2qqwpH

The Cotton Mill’s Song


Thread spinner. Loom weaver.
Cloth maker to the world.
Doffers. Smashers. Slashers.
Whipping, sweltering, and worn.

It is true what they tell you. I am wicked
with my women weaving through throbbing
night under the electric lights. And, yes,
they say I am cruel for I have slaughtered

the little child and then brought another
to fill his place. And they tell you I am vile.
But my reply: in the cheeks of girls
and the ribs of toddlers I have instilled

the hollows of hunger. And still, I will turn
to those indolent idealists who huff
at our speeding machines, and say to them:

Come and show me a grander temple
to woman’s industry with brick walls buzzing
through sunrises and hail storms and snap frost.
Show me another place where the indigent,

the illiterate, the slow, the widowed
are set to toil so assiduously in
sweat-soaked aprons and wild, dripping hair.
Spouting steam and thick oil, I cast long shadows

across the mountains. I sing my swollen song
timbre as dulcimer strings. Flushed. Defiant.
Racing. Thumping. Heaving. On the floor, cotton
coating my woman’s skin, singing with hands

like wrens, fueling the machinery of America,
and singing the way only a burdened
soul can sing, with chin thrown forward
and heart sour as ukulele, humming,
beating a foot on the cotton covered pine,

blood pumping to the pulse of the looms. Singing!
Singing the heavy, linty, violent
song of the worker. Sinewy, sweat-soaked
proud to be thread spinner. Loom weaver.
Cloth Maker to the World.



"The Cotton Mill Song." “1963” Blue Collar Review. Vol. 10 Issue 1. Autumn 2006. Norfolk, VA: Partisan Press, 2006.


Photo by Kimberly Simms



When I visited Courtney Mill  near Clemson,SC, I found shards of blue glass in the rubble. The glass shards and the story of how mill windows were bricked after the installation of fluorescent lights, inspired this poem.

Blue Panes


Indigo, cobalt, azure. Protection
from the evil eye or wandering ghouls.
Cool icy streams. The color of heaven.
Jesus’ robes. Hyacinth blooms.

I always loved those windows,
forty years those blue eyes met mine,
a window to the soul. Mr. Stephenson sent
the boys up on ladders, smashing

laughing with each rain of blue tears.
Blue tick. Bluebird. Blueberry.
Shards settled in the grass and shone
in the streaming sun like a thousand eyes.

Who knew mortar could be spread
so fast? By day end we stood
in the fluorescent lights, surrounded
on all sides by endless brick.

But the debris called to us like jewels to crows.
We couldn’t help but pick up the shards,
filling our aprons with textured glass
then stringing our porches with their blue song.


“Blue Panes.” Honorable Mention. Kakalak 2006: An Anthology of Carolina Poets. Charlotte, NC: Main Street Rag, 2006.



©Kimberly Jane Gibbs No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any electronic or audio form without permission in writing from the author. The author reserves all rights to this original piece of writing. 

Publication History of Collection Poems from Lindy Lee: Songs on Mill Hill

“Middle Saluda.” South Carolina Review, Volume 47, Number 3. Fall 2015. Clemson, SC: Clemson UP, 2015.
 “Dip 1929,” “Hop Along Little Crow,” “Jerome’s Silence.” The South Carolina Review. Vol 42.2. Clemson, SC: Clemson UP, 2010.
“The Summer of Tiger Swallow Tails.” In The Yard Anthology. Sylva, NC: Old Mountain Press, 2007. (oldmp.com)
“Brother’s Mess of Crosses.” First Place. 2006 John Edward Johnson Prize. SC Poetry Society. Charleston, SC: SCPS, 2006.
“Cliff Jump.” Honorable Mention. 2006 Lyric Poem Prize. SC Poetry Society. Charleston, SC: SCPS, 2006.
"The Cotton Mill Song." “1963” Blue Collar Review. Vol. 10 Issue 1. Autumn 2006. Norfolk, VA: Partisan Press, 2006.
“Blue Panes.” Honorable Mention. Kakalak 2006: An Anthology of Carolina Poets. Charlotte, NC: Main Street Rag, 2006.
“Mama’s Mill Christmas 1935.” Home for the Holidays. Anthology. Sylva, NC: Old Mountain Press, 2006. (oldmp.com)