Kari Gunter-Seymour to Serve Second Term as Athens Poet Laureate

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The Athens Municipal Arts Commission and Athens City Council are pleased to announce that Kari Gunter-Seymour has accepted their invitation to serve a second term as Athens Poet Laureate.

“We are so proud to have Kari continue as our Poet Laureate,” says Mayor Steve Patterson.

Three times a pushcart nominee, Gunter-Seymour’s chapbook Serving was chosen runner up in the 2016 Yellow Chair Review Annual Chapbook Contest and nominated for a 2018 Ohioana Award. Her poems can be found in many fine journals, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Stirring, CALYX, Main Street Rag and on her website: She is the founder/executive director of the Women of Appalachia Project:, and an Instructor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

“It has truly been my honor and pleasure to serve Athens County in this capacity,” says Gunter-Seymour. “I’ve gotten to meet and know so many local poets, storytellers and musicians; amazing writers, right here in our community, more than I could have imagined. What a privilege!”

Through Gunter-Seymour’s efforts in coordinating activities and opportunities over this past year, Athens is becoming known as a true “hot spot” for spoken word. Internationally recognized poet Maggie Smith; 2019 NAACP Image Awards finalist Allison Joseph; beloved Kentucky poet Ron Houchin, winner of the Appalachian Book of the Year in Poetry, and the Weatherford Award for Poetry; and New York Times best-selling poet and essayist Hanif Habdurraqib are among the talent Gunter-Seymour has arranged to perform at The Dairy Barn Arts Center, Athens, OH.

“During my travels I’ve been so fortunate to meet and get to know so many hard-working, gifted poets. It only feels natural to invite them to my home town. I am beyond honored when they agree to come,” shares Gunter-Seymour. “I want to send out a huge thank you to the Dairy Barn Arts Center for sponsoring the Spoken & Heard Poetry Series and ARTS/West for sponsoring the Poets & Writers Read Around and Potluck series. There is no way any of this could happen without their incredible generosity. And this community–this marvelous group of citizens who have come together to participate in or support these efforts with attendance and donation–there are not enough words to express my gratitude.”

Gunter-Seymour features an Athens-based poet or singer/songwriter at each Spoken & Heard event, allowing for Athens poets to be “discovered” by larger markets. She hosts a variety of writing workshops and potluck events, goes into the schools to work one-on-one with students and teachers and organizes many other avenues of opportunity for previously unknown Athens county poets, songwriters and storytellers to step into the light, form friendships and networking.

Gunter-Seymour points out a “Call for Art” for an anthology entitled Essentially Athens, is currently underway. The anthology is set to showcase a place-based mixture of community poetry, story and song submissions and the art that has been selected for “Art Outside the Box” throughout the years. The book will serve as an historically rich recording of the spirit of Athens and Athens county, while highlighting the power of spoken word and fine art to document and reflect this period in history; a celebration of the natural beauty that surrounds Athens, its inclusive attitude, inventiveness, interconnectedness, diversity, love of the land and the arts – a tribute to the present, an endowment for the future. Submissions of spoken word can come from Kindergarten-through adult, providing a true representation of the melting pot, the blend of ages, cultures and ethnicities that make everyone proud of and grateful for the city of Athens and Athens County.

The submission period for the anthology is open through March 25, 2019. Interested writers should email (1) poem OR (1) song OR one (1) short story/essay MAXIMUM 1200 WORDS as a WORD.doc or .docx attachment to, along with an 80 word, third person bio. One submission per person. All of the work must have an Athens “sense of place” theme. Writers under the age of 18 must also submit a document of parental consent for publication.

The Spring Spoken & Heard events at Dairy Barn art center will be March 7, April 11, May 9 and June13, 2019 at 6 p.m. The next Poets & Writers Read Around and Potluck is scheduled for May 30, 2019, 5:30 p.m. at ARTS/West.

Gunter-Seymour reminds us to check the Athens Poet Laureate Facebook page to be made aware of upcoming readings, potluck gatherings and other opportunities. She can be reached at