Kimberly's literary voice is rooted in the Southern tradition of storytelling, informed by her British and Southern lineage. She is an award-winning poet who entertains and educates with poetry that is both poignant and inspiring. In her debut book of poems, Lindy Lee: Songs on Mill Hill, Kimberly chronicles the lives of textile workers in the Piedmont region with historical accuracy and imaginative insight. These are poems of sorrow, joy, and redemption that linger in the heart.She was the 2016 Carl Sandburg National Historic Site Writer-In Residence (Flat Rock, NC); she is a member of the SC Humanities Council’s Speaker’s Bureau and a pioneer turned curator in the world of poetry slams.
Kimberly has been sharing her poems with a variety of audiences since she started running poetry slams at age 20 in Charleston, SC. Since then she has gone on to gain recognition from esteemed literary editors and live audiences.
Kimberly was a member of the first all women's national poetry slam team and a 1998 Southern Fried Poetry Slam champion. She has performed internationally at venues including the Battersea Arts Center in London and The Institute of Contemporary Arts London.
Family One of Kimberly's finest creative works of art is her 8 year old daughter, Jordan. Kimberly took a break from writing and performing from 2009 to 2014 to focus on her most important role. Being Mom. Another accomplishment, in 2017 she celebrates 15 years with her husband, Jeremy.
100 Word Biography Kimberly's literary voice is rooted in the Southern tradition of storytelling, informed by her British and Southern lineage. She is an award-winning poet who has been featured on PBS and TedX. She was the was 2016 Carl Sandburg National Historic Site Writer-In Residence. In her debut book of poems, Lindy Lee: Songs on Mill Hill, Kimberly chronicles the lives of textile workers in the Piedmont with historical accuracy and imaginative insight. These are poems of sorrow, joy, and redemption that linger in the heart. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and her work is included in the South Carolina Poetry Archives at Furman University. Learn more at kimberlyjsimms.com.
EDUCATION DETAILEDA graduate of Furman University (BA) with a degree in English. During my undergraduate studies, I took 2 semester long poetry courses with the poet Paul Allen. I took 1 semester long independent study with poet Gilbert Allen. I took 1 semester long independent study with poet William Aarnes.
A graduate of Clemson University (MA) with a Masters in British and American Literature where I received a graduate fellowship, which included being the teacher of record for English 101 for 2 semesters. This degree included a graduate creative thesis in poetry, which became my book LINDY LEE: SONGS ON MILL HILL. While at Clemson University, I also completed a semester long independent study with poet Ryan Van Cleave, in addition to another semester long poetry writing course
Lindy Lee: Songs on Mill Hill
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- LINDY LEE: SONGS ON MILL HILL brings to life the social fault lines of textile mills in the rural Piedmont — themes of child labor, the changing roles of women, of a fading away of life where isolation is juxtaposed against a strong sense of community. Part history, part poetry — this collection is peppered with the poignant, rarely seen photography of Lewis Hine (1874 – 1940). With Lindy Lee, KIMBERLY J. SIMMS finds the vast and profound in the smallest of domestic spaces. In the words of William Wright (2016 Georgia Author of the Year), she celebrates and records in vivid imagery “the joys and hardships of a charged, mythic, and sweat-soaked place.”
- With an eye for keen and often surprising details . . . these poems of sorrow, joy, and redemption are the sort of literary experience that stick with you long after the final line has fallen into an echo." — Ryan G. Van Cleave, author of UNLOCKED and LANDSCAPE & DREAM
- “Innovative and entertaining. Simms blends the folk-road with the erudite, makes the plain-spoken country-speak stand for the deepest spiritual constructs within our souls!” —Paul Allen, Author of AMERICAN CRAWL and GROUND FORCES.
- “In the tradition of Ron Rash, Cathy Smith Bowers, and Linda Ferguson, Kimberly Simms has chronicled the lives of textile workers in the Carolinas with historical accuracy, imaginative insight, and lyrical grace.” —Gilbert Allen, Author of CATMA and THE FINAL DAYS OF GREAT AMERICAN SHOPPING
- "Style-wise, though, Simms’ book more closely evokes Edgar Lee Masters’ famous Spoon River Anthology, vernacular free-verse odes that commemorate the long-gone residents of a hardscrabble town. But more hopeful in tone." - Melanie Bianchi, Editor of Bold Life
- "In Lindy Lee: Songs on Mill Hill, Kimberly Simms captures the paradox of the mill communities: those bound together not only through hard working and living, but through the grit that defines human perseverance and survival, all of which “You get so used to doing, it’s hard to stop.” In doing so, she helps bring to light the personal stories of those typically reserved as a footnote in Southern history." - Kathleen Nalley in South 85 Journal
Presentations and Workshops
I am available to speak at your festival, community center, school, book club, or library. My recent engagements include TEDx Greenville, the Pat Conroy Literary Center, Spartanburg Methodist College, Furman University, the Upstate Writing Project, and many more.
My 2017 dates are filling up quickly, but please reach out! I am certified through the South Carolina Arts Commission, The SC Humanities Council, The Georgia Council for the Arts, and the Metropolitan Arts Council.
- Poetic Perspectives: Exploring heroes through poetry.
The vastness of history leaves significant events resigned to just a few sparse paragraphs in history books. In this workshop, Kimberly leads participants in writing poems that celebrate and explore local history. Designed for both experienced and emerging writers, this workshop combines poetry, history, and photography. The author brings strategies for combining research with imagination and for melding historic events with the truth of the heart. In a museum setting, this workshop can be adapted to incorporate museum artifacts, photographs, or art.
Kimberly is an expert on the industrialization of the south, specifically, the textile mill era in the Southern Piedmont. Ron Rash, award-winning author, says about Kimberly, "she writes with eloquence and empathy about an important part of Southern history - too often neglected." The goal of her workshops is to give attendees new tools to help them find their own voice.
- Exploring family history through poetry.
This structured workshop helps both beginner and advanced writers craft poems that explore their family history. Whether writing a tribute to a favorite family member or exploring an important family landscape, Kimberly Simms will lead attendees in creating a poem using a writing process to support strong imagery and figurative language. 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. This workshop works well as a single session or a series.
- Discovering Creativity with Poetry
Do you consider yourself a creative person? This workshop will show attendees how to use a structured process as a tool to access their creativity. We will explore relaxation through creative arts. Our in-class exercise will include making a visual poem integrating a colorful watercolor background with found poetry. This workshop works well as a single session or a series. No previous art or poetry experience required!
- Write it Out! Finding healing through poetry.
When individuals suffer a personal trauma or are working through tough life issues, poetry can be a therapeutic force. This workshop features writing prompts to help attendees process their emotions and experiences in a safe space. The workshop will also include model poems to facilitate discussion. Attendees will have the opportunity to share their writing in pairs or small groups. This workshop can also be tailored to explore domestic violence, women’s issues, or addiction.
- Poetry Slam: Putting performance into contemporary poetry.
In this hands-on workshop, poet and educator Kimberly Simms will lead attendees in performing well-known contemporary 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. If multiple sessions are desired, Kimberly has several writing prompts to aid attendees in creating their own poems. Kimberly Simms is a certified slam master with the national organization Poetry Slam Inc. She is a former South East Regional Slam Champion and a Poetry Out Loud Regional Judge.