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Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour

Governor DeWine Names Kari Gunter-Seymour Ohio Poet Laureate

Governor Mike DeWine has named Kari Gunter-Seymour of Albany, Ohio, the state’s poet laureate. Gunter-Seymour, whose term began June 10, 2020, succeeds the state’s second poet laureate, Dave Lucas. 

“Poetry is a way for people to express their thoughts and feelings, and it can bring people together. Fran and I are looking forward to the work Kari Gunter-Seymour will be doing to highlight poetry to Ohioans, especially young people, across our state,” Governor DeWine said.

Gunter-Seymour said she hopes to use her time as poet laureate to build a greater appreciation for poetry and serve as a mentor to poets and writers across Ohio. She also plans to focus her efforts on providing workshops for those in recovery.

“I am honored and grateful for this opportunity to serve as poet laureate of the state of Ohio. Poetry—hearing it, reading it, writing it, sharing it—can be so deeply healing. When we write our truths, we create a force of light and understanding, a place where we can draw strength and find solace,” Gunter-Seymour said.



A third-generation Athens Countian, Gunter-Seymour has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design and a Master of Fine Arts in commercial photography from Ohio University. In 2020, she was named Ohio Poet of the Year by the Ohio Poetry Association. She is the founder/executive director of the Women of Appalachia Project (WOAP) and a recently retired instructor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. Prior to joining the teaching staff, Gunter-Seymour worked for Ohio University’s Advancement Communication and Marketing office, the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, and served on the Provost’s Women’s Commission.

Gunter-Seymour was named poet laureate for Athens, Ohio, in 2018-2020, during which time she partnered with Ohio University to develop a “Poetry Trail,” part of “mAppAthens,” OHIO Museum Complex’s outdoor museum project; and also published an anthology titled "Essentially Athens Ohio,” a collection which includes more than 100 poets, storytellers, songwriters, and fine artists living in or having strong ties to Athens county. In 2019, she was a featured poet for the Thurber House Summer Literary Picnic Series; Word Stream: The Weekly Writers Voice in Knoxville, Tennessee; the Bridgewater International Festival in Bridgewater, Virginia; and the Ohio Poetry Association Showcase at the Ohio State Fair. Her fine art and photography work has been published in The Sun MagazineLight JournalLooking at Appalachia, and Appalachian Heritage Magazine. Gunter-Seymour is the editor of the WOAP “Women Speak” anthology series and author of “A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen” (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions 2020) and “Serving” (Crisis Chronicles Press 2018).

More information about Gunter-Seymour can be found at her website at

Legislation creating the position of the state’s official poet was passed in 2014. Gunter-Seymour was recommended for the position by the Ohio Poet Laureate Selection Committee, following an extensive statewide nomination and review process. Members of the selection committee were:

Committee Members:
Geraldine (Ginger) B. Warner, Chair
David Barber
Jon Holt
Tina Husted
William B. White

Dave Lucas, former Ohio Poet Laureate
Jeff Worley, Kentucky Poet Laureate

The Ohio Poet Laureate has the opportunity to foster the art of poetry, encourage literacy and learning, address central issues relating to the humanities and heritage, and encourage the reading and writing of poetry across the state. 

Throughout a two-year term, the Ohio Poet Laureate undertakes a significant cultural project, such as bringing poetry to people or to a region of the state that might otherwise be underserved in this regard. The Ohio Poet Laureate engages a variety of constituencies, enriching the lives of residents by sharing and promoting poetry through public appearances, readings, workshops, and digital and social media.

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


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