WOAP’s “Women Speak” Raising Funds For My Sister’s Place

Posted on:

< < Back to

The Ohio University Multicultural Center and Women’s Center are pleased to announce the 8th Annual Women of Appalachia Project (WOAP) “Women Speak” performance, a juried presentation of poetry, story and song, featuring women artists from throughout Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, and featuring special guest, poet Maggie Smith. The event will be held in Ohio University’s Baker Center Theater on April 14 at 6 p.m.

Donations for My Sister’s Place, an organization located in Southeast Ohio that works to break cycles of domestic violence and support survivors of relationship abuse, will be collected throughout the evening.

The 2016 Ohio Poet of the Year, Maggie Smith’s poem “Good Bones” went viral this past summer and has since been translated into over a dozen languages. Smith is the author of Weep Up (Tupelo Press, forthcoming 2018); The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, winner of the Dorset Prize and the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards Gold Medal in Poetry; and Lamp of the Body, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award; and three prizewinning chapbooks. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Paris Review, Guernica, Plume, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. A 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, Smith has also received grants from the Ohio Arts Council, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Additionally, 15 “Women Speak” poets, storytellers and musicians will share their spoken word art, a mash-up of seasoned and emerging artists. “Women Speak” events are currently being hosted by a number of galleries and venues throughout Ohio and West Virginia.

“The work is solid and meaningful and we are excited to share the stage with Maggie Smith,” said WOAP founder/curator Kari Gunter-Seymour.

Another highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the 2017 WOAP Appalachian Advocate Award which is presented yearly to an outstanding Appalachian woman who has dedicated herself to enhancing the well being of Appalachian culture, Appalachian women’s health, Appalachian families or Appalachian land issues. This year’s recipient is, Teresa Mills, nationally recognized environmental justice proponent, born and raised in Nelsonville, OH.
The mission of WOAP is to showcase the way in which female artists respond to the Appalachian region as a source of inspiration, bringing together women from diverse backgrounds, ages and experiences to embrace the stereotype – to show the whole woman; beyond the superficial factors that people use to judge her.

When asked how living in Appalachia has influenced her life and therefore her art, West Virginia poet and songwriter, Jeanne Bryner says, “We moved to Ohio from West Virginia when I was about four years old. The housing my folks could afford was in the projects. We were a one-industry town: a steel mill. When it went under in 1973, the underpinning of our community evaporated. Long before I learned the terms, I felt the impact of deindustrialization and displacement. Everything I write examines courage, for it takes a toll to arm wrestle this world with only a good heart and common sense.”

“My family hails from Kentucky, generations of blue-grass blooded men and women who have weathered both the good and the bad that Appalachia has to offer,” shares poet, Alexis-Rueal. “My writing has been an effort to pay homage to those family members and to my own relationship to the state of my birth.”

The presentation is free to the public though donations in support of My Sister’s Place will be gratefully accepted. There will be a time of reception immediately following the performance in the Multicultural Center Gallery where the WOAP fine art exhibit is currently featured.

For more information go to or visit WOA on Facebook. For questions, email