About the Ohio Poet Laureate Program

Overview & responsibilities

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. Upon invitation, the Ohio Poet Laureate will provide a minimum of 20 public readings/events per year in urban and rural settings across the state that educate students, community members, and business, state, and civic leaders about the value and importance of poetry and creative expression.

The Ohio Poet Laureate will be expected to undertake a significant cultural project during his or her term, 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 will engage a variety of constituencies, enriching the lives of residents by sharing and promoting poetry through public appearances, readings, workshops, and digital and social media.

Event Requests

About Ohio's Poet Laureate 


Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-SeymourKari Gunter-Seymour’s poems offer a refuge where one’s curiosity, intelligence, and awareness of the complexities of contemporary Appalachian female culture take shape. The work is firmly and unapologetically attached to her home soil and is an examination of the long-lasting effects of stereotype and false narratives surrounding native Appalachians. More than merely commenting, her work dares to search for meaning.

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 the 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 Magazine, Light Journal, Looking 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 karigunterseymourpoet.com.