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Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour

Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour Honored as Fellow by Academy of American Poets

Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour is among 23 state and city poets laureate selected as 2021 Poets Laureate Fellows by the Academy of American Poets.

The fellowship honors “poets of literary merit appointed to serve in civic positions” and enables them “to undertake meaningful, impactful, and innovative projects that engage their fellow residents, including youth, with poetry, helping to address issues important to their communities,” according to the American Academy of Poets website.

Each fellow receives $50,000 to lead poetry projects in the communities that they serve.

In an Academy of American Poets media release announcing the 2021 fellows, Gunter-Seymour shared that she is planning to publish an anthology of poems that “aims to represent and educate about Ohio’s Appalachian population.”

Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. Collins congratulated Gunter-Seymour on her work as Ohio Poet Laureate and her fellowship.

“This marks the first time an Ohio Poet Laureate has received recognition as a Fellow of the Academy of American Poets. On behalf of the Ohio Arts Council board and staff, we could not be prouder of Kari’s work,” Collins said.

Gunter-Seymour’s planned anthology will be titled “I Thought I Heard a Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices” and focus specifically on the stories of teens and adults in Appalachian Ohio. It will be distributed for free to all Ohio public libraries and made available at a discounted price for schools and nonprofits. The anthology will be published and distributed in collaboration with Sheila-Na-Gig Editions and the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.

Gunter-Seymour, who is from Albany, Ohio, is the state’s third poet laurate. Prior to being named Ohio Poet Laureate, she served as Athens, Ohio’s poet laureate from 2018-2020, during which time she partnered with Ohio University to develop a “Poetry Trail,” part of “mAppAthens,” an outdoor museum project included in the university’s Museum Complex. She also published "Essentially Athens Ohio,” an anthology which includes more than 100 poets, storytellers, songwriters, and artists living in or having strong ties to Athens County.

In 2020, Gunter-Seymour was named Poet of the Year by the Ohio Poetry Association in recognition of her collection of poetry titled “A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen” (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2020). She is the founder/executive director of the Women of Appalachia Project (WOAP), editor of the WOAP “Women Speak” anthology series, and a ninth-generation Appalachian.

For more information about Gunter-Seymour and her work as Ohio Poet Laureate, visit

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


Article by Justin Nigro, Operations and Public Affairs Director

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