Saturday, March 10, 2018

Governor Names Dave Lucas Ohio's New Poet Laureate

Governor John R. Kasich recently announced that Dave Lucas of Cleveland Heights has been named Ohio’s poet laureate. Lucas is Ohio’s second poet laureate, the last being Dr. Amit Majmudar, and his two-year term began on January 1.

Lucas currently teaches at Case Western Reserve University. He earned his undergraduate degree in English from John Carroll University, his M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Virginia, and his Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. You can read a review of Lucas' book, Weather, here

Lucas, originally from Cleveland Heights, is excited for the opportunities that this new position presents to foster a love and appreciation for poetry across Ohio. He already has plans in the works for a multimedia poetry project, which will be announced once plans are finalized through the Ohio Arts Council.

Lucas’s interest in poetry didn’t officially begin until he was in college, but he felt drawn to language even before then.

I started writing poems seriously in college—I’d dabbled before,” said Lucas, “but years before that, I'd become aware of something compelling and mysterious in both the language of poetry and everyday language as well—in reading it, in hearing it spoken or sung. I couldn’t have put it in these words then, but I think that was the beginning of my life in poetry.”

During his time as poet laureate, Lucas hopes to connect Ohio readers from all walks of life with the many forms poetry can take. According to an Ohio Arts Council news release, Lucas "is planning a multimedia project involving people from diverse places and backgrounds allowing them to experience a variety of opinions about poetry." 

I hope to celebrate the work and legacy of Ohio poets and to celebrate poetry as we find it in ‘traditional’ poems and in unexpected places as well,” said Lucas.

Among Lucas’s many achievements are the 2012 Ohioana Book Award in Poetry for his work Weather, as well as the Cleveland Arts Prize, Emerging Artist in Literature.
His friends and family have been proud and supportive of Lucas’s newest role. “They’re already sick of hearing about it,” said Lucas. “That’s what makes them such good friends.”

By Abby Studebaker

Thursday, February 1, 2018

OPA to Co-Sponsor Poetry Reading at the Decorative Arts Center in Lancaster

By Abby Studebaker

As April approaches, it brings with it a break from subzero temperatures and the start of yet another exciting National Poetry Month. OPA will kick off this yearly celebration of poetry with a reading, coordinated by our very own Kari Gunter-Seymour, in partnership with the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio on Sunday, April 8.

Located in Lancaster, the Decorative Arts Center puts on exhibitions every year with the goal of engaging and inspiring through the arts. Beginning January 21 and running through April 15, the exhibition Artists of the Winding Road A-Z will feature the work of 12 artists living and working in Appalachian Ohio.

From asphalt to repurposed materials, the art in this exhibition reflects the region and its diverse inhabitants, and it has inspired OPA to co-sponsor a collaborative poetry reading in Lancaster.

The reading, titled “Rise Up Appalachia: Voices From Southeastern Ohio,” will take place from
2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 8 and will feature poems inspired by the art in the exhibition. Twelve southeastern-Ohio poets, each inspired by one of the 12 artists, has crafted an ekphrastic poem in conversation with that artist’s work.

Poets are free to interpret the art and the theme however they wish. Just as there is no single Appalachian experience, there is also no single artistic experience.

“This project is about observation and reaction,” said Gunter-Seymour. “Is it political, generational – complex or simple? Is it angry, sad, happy? Is there pride or sympathy involved? Are some of us outlanders who have made a home here or have we been here all our lives? Are we teachers, church goers, waiters, mechanics, as well as poets? How has living in Appalachia impacted us, or does it?
OPA is no stranger to collaboration and working across media. Visual art has the power to spark a poetic response and vice versa. Crossing boundaries, genres, and disciplines is one of the things art of any kind does so well. Gunter-Seymour, who is the founder and director of the Women of Appalachia Project (WOAP), an arts organization, says that this commitment to lifting up the arts and artists as a
whole is what drew her to OPA.

The moment I learned of OPA, I wanted to become a member,” said Gunter-Seymour. “I continue to be impressed with the ongoing commitment of OPA’s leadership and the variety of opportunities they provide to members.”

Because of her ties to southeastern-Ohio poets and her experience organizing arts events, Seymour was the natural choice to curate this reading.

Poets who will be reading include Cathy Cultice Lentes of Rutland, Eli Redfern of Athens, and Jane Ann Fuller of Logan, among many others.

Everyone is welcome to attend the reading and view the artwork that spurred it, and Gunter-Seymour especially hopes to see OPA members in the audience as we “brush off winter’s cobwebs and celebrate renewal.”

Entrance costs $10 at the door, or $8/$5 for Decorative Arts Center members who pre-register. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to view the exhibit before the reading begins. And a special printed program that features the poems will be available to attendees (quantities are limited).

Monday, January 1, 2018

Rikki Santer Wins OPA Bookmarks Contest

Ohio Poetry Association is pleased to congratulate the winner of its first bookmarks contest, Rikki Santer of Columbus, Ohio. The OPA team will begin to work with Rikki on layout and printing of her winning poem and artwork. Stay tuned to the OPA website and social media for an announcement when the bookmarks are available.

Contest judges had a difficult time deciding on a winner because all the submissions were stunning. The judges recommend the poets consider checking with a local printer about having their bookmarks printed up. Many thanks to all who sent in submissions. 

We encourage all OPA members to check the OPA website or the latest issue of Workshopping Our Words for details on the 2018 Ides of March Contest.

And there's still plenty for Ohio's high school students to enter OPA's annual student poetry contests. Full details on the OPA website here.

Friday, December 22, 2017

OPA Highlights: Looking Back at 2017, Ahead to 2018

As another calendar year winds down, it’s time to reflect on how OPA spent 2017 and to thank those who made it so successful. Perhaps at the top of our list of accomplishments is the release of another anthology, A Rustling and Waking Within. This beautiful collection of ekphrastic poems was made possible by a dedicated team of volunteers and poets. First and foremost, thanks to editor Sharon Fish Mooney, who spent countless hours handling submissions, revisions, and layout and design with her husband, OPA newsletter editor Scott Mooney. The result is an inspiring collection for the most discerning reader. We are also grateful to Anna Soter, who coordinated the book launch at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus with the invaluable help of Center staff, Alana Ryder. Finally, we appreciate the art museums and centers in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Coshocton, and Toledo who hosted our ekphrastic workshops and readings, and the poets who led those events and turned this project into another milestone success. Thank you to the poets whose work now shines on the pages of the latest OPA anthology.
The OPA Team celebrates at the release of A Rustling and Waking Within.
While we look back at many joyous years of OPA retreats at Malabar Farm Hostel, hosted by our good friend and member Mark Jordan, we are sad to see the hostel ceasing its operations. Our gratitude extends to Mark and all those poets who led truly memorable workshops and to the participants providing an equally memorable experience. Mark has gone on to an exciting job opportunity, thank goodness, in the greater vicinity of Malabar. The OPA team is now left with the task—and no small one at that—to develop a plan for future poetry retreats. We have begun researching alternative sites, but we welcome your ideas and suggestions and would appreciate someone taking the lead on organizing such gatherings.
In 2017 OPA sought partnerships with several organizations that hold great promise. We are grateful for our continued partnership with Otterbein University, which affords us our workshop space. We are also excited about our newest collaboration with Full/Crescent Press and publisher Paula Lambert, who organized the first Sun & Moon Poetry Festival in Delaware last May, a joint venture with the Stratford Ecological Center and Perkins Observatory. We look forward to being part of it again during this National Poetry Month in late April 2018.
Kari Gunter-Seymour performs
at the NFSPS Convention.
Our participation and activities ranged from the Ohioana Book Festival, Ohio Poetry Day, and the NFSPS Annual Convention, where OPA member Kari Gunter-Seymour shone as the winner of the very first Black Berry Peach Awards. You can hear Kari’s winning submission on Sound Cloud here. The year 2017 also marked another successful year of student contests, the annual Ides of March Contest, and a new bookmarks contest thanks to the respective coordinators Sharon Mooney and Patricia Black.
We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge those who donated to OPA and helped underwrite our activities. Thanks to The Columbus Foundation for again funding OPA through its Community Arts Fund, and for sponsoring The Big Give, during which many of you donated to OPA.
Finally, sincerest thanks to all our members and volunteers who make OPA such a vibrant organization, from the team of officers who give so much of their time to help OPA run smoothly to the members who continue to write fantastic poetry, as evidenced in the annual Common Threads literary journal, beautifully edited by Steve Abbott with much help from intern Abby Studebaker.
OPA is looking at some exciting changes in 2018. We’ll be taking part in some new events, including the annual conference of the Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts, where we hope to establish new connections with Ohio teachers and students. We’re also excited to be sponsoring a reading at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio, in Lancaster, where we’ll celebrate the art and poetry of Appalachian Ohio during the Artists of the Winding Road A–Z exhibition. And of course, we will continue offering engaging and enlightening poetry workshops, kicking off in January with “Lights, Camera, Action… Poetry!” a cross-genre exploration of poetry and film.
After long tenures on the Board, Vice-President Mark Hersman and Treasurer Rinda Sansom will be stepping down. We are indebted to both of them for their dedication to OPA during the past several years. And it is also time for me to hand the presidency to a new leader, as I’ve reached my term limit. In fact, all four officer seats will be up for election, with voting wrapping up in July. Any OPA member in good standing who wants to step up and lend their vision and talents to the organization is encouraged to talk to current officers about the opportunities available.
We know there are some amazing people in OPA who can bring fresh ideas and energy to the organization. If you have an hour or two per week to spare to help with the OPA website, or perhaps a special event to expand Ohio’s poetry community, let us know. Our organization thrives on the work of volunteers, and we’re eager to hear from you.
In the meantime, best wishes to all OPA members and Ohio poets at large for a safe and peaceful holiday season with family and friends. Make poetry a part of your traditions and gatherings! There are many reasons to love poetry, but perhaps none so important as making us feel more human.
May you have a prosperous, inspiring year of poetry in 2018!

– Chuck Salmons
OPA President

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


The Big Give is back! Sponsored by The Columbus Foundation (TCF), The Big Give is a 24-hour opportunity to support your favorite non-profit organizations. And OPA is asking you to help us continue our efforts to support poets and the art of poetry across the state.

This year’s event is bigger than ever with a pool of matching funds totaling more than $1.3 million. And unlike years past, all credit card fees are covered by TCF, which means 100% of donated funds will go to OPA.

Thanks to previous The Big Give events and OPA supporters, we’ve been able to use money raised to improve programming and events and produce special publications. As our members know, OPA is managed entirely by volunteers and has no paid staff. So, all donations go into things like readings, anthologies, such as Common Threads and the 2017 ekphrastic collection, A Rustling and Waking Within, contests, and workshops.

We’ll be posting more information prior to the event so keep watching! Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of the process.

It’s easy and lasts only for a day:

·    Beginning at 10 AM EST on Tuesday, October 10, visit the TCF website at
·   Click on “The Big Give” banner.
·   Use your credit card to make a donation to Ohio Poetry Association. (Minimum donations begin at $20.) 
·   Donations can be made up until noon, EST on Wednesday, October 11. OPA will receive its donations and share of the bonus pool on November 30th.

We are very grateful to the donors and the staff at The Columbus Foundation for their continued support of Ohio Poetry Association. And thanks to all of you who plan to donate during this year’s The Big Give event!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Get Ready for Ohio Poetry Day Festivities

The Ohio Poetry Day Association has asked that we make sure Ohio Poetry Association members receive a copy of the registration form for Ohio Poetry Day which will be held on October 6 and 7 at the Troy Hayner Cultural Center in Troy Ohio. Winners of the annual poetry contests will be honored and the 2017 Ohio Poet of the Year, Kathy Fagan will do a reading from her latest book, Sycamore. It's a wonderful time of fellowship in the celebration of poetry. If you did not receive an invitation by mail, you can print out this registration form and mail it to Amy Jo Zook, 3520 State Route 56, Mechanicsburg, Ohio 43044 by October 1.


Monday, May 8, 2017

OPA to Co-Sponsor 2017 Sun & Moon Poetry Festival – Delaware, Ohio

Don’t miss the fourth annual Poetry at Perkins benefit reading event preceded by a day-long series of activities on Saturday, June 3, 2017 at various locations throughout Delaware, Ohio. The Sun & Moon Poetry Festival promises to provide a full spectrum of poetry activities and readings. It starts at the Delaware County Library with a workshop led by Dr. Susann Moeller, secretary of the Ohio Poetry Association, on the topic of Space Junk. In the afternoon, a reading hike is scheduled though Stratford Ecological Center that will feature poets from throughout Ohio at various points along the path. In the evening, there will be more poetry from Ohio poets at the Perkins Observatory. Check out the full details below.

Full/Crescent Press, a Columbus-based poetry press, has hosted “Poetry at Perkins: In Celebration of the Night Sky” as an annual event since 2014. Bill Hurley was one of the first poets to be involved and acted each year as Master of Ceremonies. A poet and amateur astronomer, he was instrumental in helping to make the program such a great success. Sadly, Bill passed away last year. He has been greatly missed.

Full/Crescent Press wanted to do something special this year, largely in tribute to Bill, and thought of expanding the evening event into an all-day science and poetry festival. After speaking to friends at Stratford, who were delighted with the idea of putting on a similar benefit reading there, Full/Crescent reached out to the Ohio Poetry Association to see if it might like to host a morning event as well. Susann Moeller's eco-poetry workshop focusing on Space Junk worked out as a perfect way to frame the full day.

According to Paula Lambert, managing editor, “Full/Crescent Press is so pleased with the way things have fallen into place, and so grateful to the marvelous array of poets who have donated their time and talents to both Stratford Ecological Park and Perkins Observatory. Many of the poets knew Bill well, which makes it even more special. It’s bound to be a wonderful day.”

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH

Space Junk: An Eco-Poetry Workshop is sponsored by the Ohio Poetry Association and will be led by Dr. Susann Moeller. Moeller will introduce participants to the topic of garbage in space using a variety of documentary clips. She will provide a brief introduction to various elements of poetry and a sample reading to get your creative juices flowing. Coffee and light refreshments will help participants toward the conclusion of a guided writing process.

Moeller is editor of the eco-poetry anthology Open Earth (PM Books), serves as Secretary of the Board of OPA, and is a certified master gardener, urban farmer and Ohio naturalist. She is vested in the community at large through her environmental justice advocacy.

This workshop is free and open to the public, no registration required.

2:00 p.m. – 6 :00 p.m.
Stratford Ecological Center, 3083 Liberty Rd., Delaware, OH

Poetry at Stratford Ecological Center: A Celebration of Nature is a benefit poetry event. After a welcome and brief reading in the main building, guests will embark on a nature hike where they will hear poets, stationed at various spots throughout this lovely preserve, read their work. Guests will then return to main building for a Haiku Death Match hosted by Stratford apiarist and haiku poet Dave Noble. Please note that all events are rain or shine and family friendly; the trails are easily accessible. Featured readers are Joanna Schroeder, Louise Robertson, Juan Armando Rojas Joo, Fred Kirchner, Susan Hendrickson, Sayuri Ayers, Chuck Salmons, Aimee Noel, Fred Andrle, Susann Moeller, Pat Hurley, Natalie Noble, and Mindy Hall. Light refreshments served.

Tickets are $5/person, $10/family, available online at or by calling (740) 363-2548. 100% of proceeds directly benefit Stratford Ecological Center.

8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Poetry at Perkins Observatory: In Celebration of the Night Sky!
Perkins Observatory, 61 S. Sandusky St., Delaware, OH

This will be the fourth annual Poetry at Perkins benefit reading. Eight poets will read work related to the cosmos, to be followed—weather permitting—by night sky viewing through the open dome. In case of clouds or rain, guests will enjoy a guided tour of the observatory led by observatory director Tom Burns. This year’s readers are (host) Dave Noble, Charlene Fix, Geoff Anderson, Louise Robertson, Mark Jordan, Izetta Thomas, Herbert Woodward Martin, Pat Hurley, and Amit Majmudar.

Tickets are $10 each and available by calling (740) 363-1257. Seating is limited, and 100% of proceeds directly benefit Perkins Observatory.