Spoken & Heard Events Feed Local Hunger for Poetry

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Ever find yourself wishing there was a place for people to read, share, and listen to poetry?

Look no further: Athen’s very own Dairy Barn hosts the monthly poetry event, Spoken and Heard: Poetry of Departure and Relevance, which features both local and regional poets across Appalachia.

The event was created by Athens Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour and serves as a space for those wanting to delve into the art of poetry, whether it be coming to share original work during the open mic, or simply sitting back, listening, and taking in the powerful words of others.

Kari Gunter-Seymour started writing poetry in 2009, shortly after her son was deployed for the first time. The thoughts and feelings of the unknown coupled with the abundance of inspiration that Appalachia provides led to Kari not only sharing her own work with the world but also creating platforms for others to do the same- such as Spoken and Heard and the Women of Appalachia Project. After a series of personal hardships, Kari moved from Meigs County to Athens County, where she was warmly welcomed by the community.

“People reached out to me and they helped me (…) this is all based on really good people and a lot of luck,” said Gunter-Seymour. “To me, it’s my duty to lift up other women- really everybody- but particularly women, and if possible, Appalachian women.”

Wanting to give back to the place that has given her so much, Spoken and Heard was born. The event occurs once a month and features three poets (and sometimes musicians) with an open mic to follow. Set in the upper level of the Dairy Barn, the space is inviting and tranquil. Dairy Barn volunteers help run the event, which includes selling books by the evening’s poets and running the cash bar. The event is free of charge and is open to everyone.

Since the Dairy Barn hosts this event and volunteers help to make it happen, Kari is searching for a benefactor for Spoken and Heard in order to keep this event local and at its current wonderful location. If you or someone you know may be interested in supporting this cause, contact Kari at

Spoken and Heard is one of Athens’s many hidden gems. “I think that Athens county is hungry for poetry, I really do. We see it in the audiences that come out and we see it in the people who are participating. We have have one of the best open mics in the state because of the excellent poets we have in this town.” said Kari.