(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Governor Mike DeWine has named Kari Gunter-Seymour of Albany, Ohio the state’s poet laureate. Gunter-Seymour, whose term begins 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,” said Governor Mike DeWine.
“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,” says Gunter-Seymour.
Gunter-Seymour plans to use her time as poet laurate 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.
A third generation Athens Countian, Gunter-Seymour has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Graphic Design) and a Master of Fine Arts (Commercial Photography) from Ohio University. 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 “mApp,” OHIO’s outdoor museum project and also published an anthology entitled “Essentially Athens Ohio” a collection which includes over 100 poets, storytellers, song writers 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, Knoxville, TN, the Bridgewater International Festival in Bridgewater, VA, 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)
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:
Geraldine (Ginger) B. Warner, Chair
William B. White
Dave Lucas, former Ohio Poet Laureate
Jeff Worley, Kentucky Poet Laureate