Book Feature: Songs on Mill Hill

Article by Gina Malone. The Laurel’s book features introduce regional books and authors. Send information on new or recently published books to

Kimberly Simms’ new book began with a single poem inspired by a photograph used as a prompt in a poetry workshop. “One of my sample photographs,” she says, “was of a woman working at a textile machine. Memories of family stories flooded my mind and I wrote a poem: Last Day at the Mill.”

The poems in this debut collection center around Lindy Lee, a fictional mill worker of nearly 100 years ago who, Simms says, “is a synthesis of the large amount of research that I did on mill towns in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.” Following the title character through her teenage years and into her life as wife and mother, Simms sheds light on issues such as sexual harassment and assault, child labor, malnutrition and cruel mill owners. “While some of these poems were difficult to write,” she says, “I felt that these stories were essential to tell the whole story of life during this time period.”

Her favorite poem, Blue Panes, won her the 2016 Carl Sandburg NHS Writerin- Residence Award. There in the celebrated poet’s historic home, during a three-week period she calls a “magical time,” she worked on other poems about Lindy Lee. “Carl Sandburg was an influence on my new collection as he was a proponent of both workers’ rights and civil rights.” Simms hopes her book will raise awareness of issues still faced by workers today.

Lindy Lee: Songs on Mill Hill, October, 2017, poetry, softcover, $19.95, by Kimberly J. Simms, and published by Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, KY. The author will appear at the Asheville Poetry Series on Monday, December 18, at 7:30 p.m. at The Block off biltmore. To learn more, visit

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