Tuesday, April 14, 2020

BlackBerryPeach 2020 Contest Winners Announced

Poet Gary Ketchum selected first place winner of the 2020 prize; OPA's Susann Moeller earns Honorable Mention

The National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS) is pleased to announce the 1st place winner of the 2020 BlackBerryPeach Spoken and Heard competition, Gary Ketchum of New Port Richey, Florida. The BlackBerryPeach Contest is a major NFSPS competition that challenges poets to present their best original poetry in print and spoken word.

This year's judge, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer comments, "Poetry began, after all, as an oral and aural art and I love the way this contest harkins to those origins." A record number of entries this year is proof that interest in spoken word poetry continues to grow. Florida led the nation in number of entries, followed by Colorado and Ohio.

The second-place winner is Jessica Hassell of New Jersey, and third place goes to Amanda Bailey of Minnesota. The Honorable Mention Award winners are Josh Conklin of New Hampshire, Taelen Thomas of California, Dr. Susann Moeller of Ohio, and Melissa Huff of Illinois.

The National Federation of State Poetry Societies (nfsps.com) is a non-profit organization, exclusively educational and literary. Its purpose is to recognize the importance of poetry with respect to national cultural heritage. It is dedicated solely to the furtherance of poetry on the national level and serves to unite poets in the bonds of fellowship and understanding.

A video of the performances by the winners will be posted on YouTube and in addition to the oral versions, NFSPS will publish the prizewinning entries in a chap book that will be for sale on Amazon.com.

For questions or more information, contact: Joseph Cavanaugh, jcavanaugh1@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Ohio Poetry Day Association accepting Poet of the Year 2020 Nominations

The Ohio Poetry Day Association (OPDA) is now accepting nominations for Ohio Poet of the Year. Handed out annually since 1976, the award is given for a single collection of poems. The award is based on the one book and not on an aggregation of work published over some time.

Nomination guidelines:
  • Poets may not self-nominate. Books can be offered by others: a publisher or editor, a college faculty or member thereof, a writers' or poets' organization, any other person of poetic standing in the state, or from the lists of books newly published that are put out by the Ohioana Library several times a year.
  • The poet must be a native or a resident of Ohio, or if neither, must have lived in Ohio long enough to have formed serious ties to the state. (The list of former winners of Poet of the Year is below.)
  • The nominated book must be longer than a chapbook (i.e., more than 48 pages) and not a "collected" or "complete" works.
  • The book may be from a commercial or university press or self-published, but it may not come from a vanity press. Books nominated will be screened for quality and to ensure that there are not too many of them for judges to consider.
  • The nominated book may have received previous awards or honors.
  • Poets who previously were nominated may be so again, for a different book; but no one will be chosen a second time as POY.
  • Nominations must be submitted by May 1, 2020. Mail a single copy of the book to:
Amy Jo Zook
3520 State Route 56
Mechanicsburg, OH 43044

The POY winner will be notified in the late summer and invited to be the luncheon speaker at Ohio Poetry Day weekend, October2–3. The award consists of $200 and a commemorative plaque, with one poem from the chosen book also being published in the year's BEST OF collection.

For more background and a look at the history of the award, see the OPA blog article here.

Previous Ohio Poets of the Year






Hallie Cramer
Muriel de Chambrun
Virginia Moran Evans
Cecil Hale Hartzell
Celia Dimmette
Novella Humphrey Davis
Daisy Lee Donaldson
Mary Oliver
James Magner, Jr.
James C. Kilgore
no award given
Charlotte Mann
Richard Hague
Michael J. Rosen
J. A. Totts
Timothy Russell
Amy Jo Schoonover
Robert Wallace
Bonnie Jacobson
David Baker
Debra Allbery
Grace Butcher
Frankie Paino
David Citino
Tom Andrews
Michael J. Bugeja
A Sprig of Bittersweet
Sudden Soring
To Seek the Sun
Song on the Anvil
Ocean Carry Us Far
There Was This Place
Surface Fragments
Twelve Moons
Till No Light Leaps
African Violet
Grape Pitcher
A Drink at the Mirage
Outside the Dream
The Possibility of Turning to Salt
New & Used Poems
The Common Summer
Stopping for Time
Sweet Home, Saturday Night
Walking Distance
Child, House, World
The Rapture of Matter
The Discipline
The Hemophiliac's Motorcycle
After Oz




Alberta Turner
Lou Suarez
William Matthews
James Cummins
Susan Grimm
Miriam Vermilya
Myrna Stone
Pauletta Hansel
Deanna Packard
Elton Glaser
Cathryn Essinger
Herbert W. Martin
David Hassler
Martha Collins
William Heyen
Stephen Haven
Terry Hermsen
Will Wells
George Looney
Linda Ann Schofield
Lianne Spidel
Dzvinia Orlowsky
David Lee Garrison
Jeff Gundy
Maggie Smith
Kathy Fagan
Susan Glassmeyer
Laura Grace Weldon
Beginning With And
Losses of Moment
Time & Money
Portrait in a Spoon
Almost Home
The Art of Loss
ln Dreams We Kiss Ourselves Goodbye
Pelican Talks
My Dog Does Not Read Plato
Escape to the Promised Land
Red Kimono, Yellow Barn
Blue Front
The Confessions of Doc Williams
Dust and Bread
The River's Daughter
Unsettled Accounts
Open Between Us
Psalms of the Hood
What to Tell Joseme
Playing Bach in the D.C. Metro
Somewhere Near Defiance
The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison
Invisible Fish

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Ohio Poetry Day Contest Updates: 2020 Contests Flyer, 2019 Winners List

OPD 2020 Contests Information
The 2020 Ohio Poetry Day Association annual contests have been announced. May 15 is the deadline (postmark) for more than two dozen contests, including a “Welcome Aboard” category for first-time submitters. Below is a copy of the submission form, which provides full contest information.

Ohio Poetry Day 2020 will take place October 23 at the University of Mt. Union in Alliance, Ohio. To get on the OPD mailing list, contact:
Amy Jo Zook
3520 State Route 56
Mechanicsburg, OH 43044

Checks made payable to: Ohio Poetry Day. For questions, call (937) 834-2666.

OPD 2019 Contest Winners
The list of winners of the OPD 2019 poetry contests has been released. We're excited to see so many OPA members among the winners and honorable mentions. Congratulations to all!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

OPA Awarded a Greater Columbus Arts Council BOOST Grant

Funding will provide new audio/visual equipment

The Ohio Poetry Association (OPA) is pleased to announce it has been awarded a BOOST grant from the Greater Columbus Arts Council. The BOOST program is designed to help arts and cultural organizations with capacity building.

A total of $2,992 will be provided to OPA for the purchase of audio/visual equipment. The organization, its poets, and audiences will have the means to streamline poetry recording processes, improve the audience experience through better sound and image, and present poetry at both indoor and outdoor public venues, such as auditoriums, farmer’s markets, and festivals, especially where this equipment is not readily available.

“The support of the Greater Columbus Arts Council will afford OPA the means to expand its reach in the virtual community and provide our members the resources to hone their craft and ability to perform for an audience,” said OPA President Chuck Salmons. “This technology will help OPA build capacity for years to come.”

OPA will also be able to make audio recordings of its members and other guest poets for submission to contests and prospective venues. Basic video recordings of OPA’s public performances and workshops can be used for archival, demo, and marketing purposes. And attendees can take part in an educational workshop series (The Bootleg MFA), which equips poets with the tools and knowledge to maneuver the ever-growing technological aspects of poetic artistry.

This is the second grant awarded to OPA by the Greater Columbus Arts Council in 2019. Earlier this year, OPA received funding for its weekend-long National Poetry Month celebration featuring Angie Estes and Mark Irwin.

The Ohio Poetry Association is extremely grateful to the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the City of Columbus, and Franklin County for its generous support. For more information about the Greater Columbus Arts Council, visit its website at www.gcac.org

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Student Poets Again Will Shine for Wellspring of Imagination

In November, the Wellspring of Imagination program will welcome young poets from across the United States and overseas to gather in Lancaster, Ohio, for a week of reading, writing, and performing poetry. The event culminates in a reading where the students present the poems they’ve polished during the experience.

“In a time where creativity and respect for the imagination take a back seat to proficiency-test driven schools, Wellspring provides an opportunity for young artists to shine,” said Alan Cohen, the event’s organizer and a retired school teacher. Cohen is also the founder and organizer of the annual Hocking Hills Festival of Poetry.

This year marks the eighth consecutive year of this event, where young poets from six states and Norway will work intensively on their poetry for three days under the mentorships of established poet/educators. The student poets include two city youth poet laureates and one youth state poet laureate. This year’s teachers are Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer (Colorado), Jon Lee (Massachusetts) and Valencia Robin (Virginia). After working with the students, the teachers will mentor them during the next calendar year, one of the major strengths of Wellspring.

The final poetry performance is free and open to the public and will take place on November 16, 2019, at 7 P.M. at Alley Park, 2805 Old Logan Rd SE, Lancaster, OH 43130. The teachers will also share their work. Admission is free thanks to a grant from the Ohio Arts Council and generous donations from the poetry community.

More information is available at ravensunpoetry.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/RavensunPoetryEvents.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Ohio Poetry Day 2019 Celebration Returns to Troy, Ohio

Now in its 82nd year, Ohio Poetry Day will take place on October 18­–19 at the Troy Hayner Cultural Center in Troy, Ohio, for a weekend of workshop, readings, and fellowship. As always, attendees should bring notebooks and are invited to bring publications they would like to be sold in the book room for the weekend.

Saturday programs feature the workshop poems that won in the Evan Lodge contest with critic Nancy Breen. During this time, the book room will be open for display and sale of books, including the winning book by the OPD Poet of the Year, Laura Grace Weldon, who will read from Blackbird (Grayson Books, 2019).

Available for purchase will be the Best of 2019, featuring all prize-winning poems from OPD, as well as all honorable mentions. Poets who won prizes at OPD or any recent state or national contest will read.

Box lunches provided by Bakehouse are available @ $11.50 ea. Options: Turkey & cheddar sandwich; roast beef sandwich; and a veggie wrap.


Friday, 10/18

7 PM                Refreshments & social time, overnight contests announced

Saturday, 10/19

9–10 AM          Registration & book room set up
10 AM–Noon   Evan Lodge Contest poetry workshop; $1.50/person fee (free to students)
Noon–1 PM      Lunch break
1–2 PM            Reading by OPD Poet of the Year, Laura Grace Weldon
2–4 PM            Open-mic reading by OPD and other prize winners


To register for the workshop and/or reserve a lunch, download and mail in the completed form below by October 12 to:
Amy Jo Zook
3520 State Route 56
Mechanicsburg, OH 43044

Checks made payable to Ohio Poetry Day. For questions, call (937) 834-2666.

Those who have not entered OPD contests in the last five years, or are not an active member of a group (such as Ohio Poetry Association) that submits yearly membership lists, should contact Amy Zook to stay or get on the mailing list before next spring's mailing date.


The Troy Hayner Cultural Center is located at 301 West Main Street, Troy, Ohio 45373. From Interstate 75, take Exit 74 (US Rte. 41/Main Street) and travel due east on Main Street. The Troy Hayner Center is approximately 1.5 miles on the north side of Main Street, between Short Street and Oxford Street.
All parking is available outside the building, with lots behind the Center and across the street, as well as on the street. On Friday night only, parking is available in the public library lot across Oxford Street.

OPD flyer page 1

OPD flyer page 2

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Remembering Doug Rutledge – Poet, Ambassador, Advocate, Host, Mentor, & Friend

Doug Rutledge. Photo courtesy of Randi Cohen.
Recently, OPA lost one of its own, Doug Rutledge, a poet and scholar who had a lasting impact on all who knew him. His poetry and reviews have appeared in Chautauqua, River Teeth, Rattle, Asheville Poetry Review, The Journal, Quiddity, Third Coast, Southwestern American Literature, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Common Ground Review, Jabberwock Review, Harvard Review online, and Lumina. He taught at Capital University, worked at Jewish Family Services, owned and managed a book store with his wife Rebecca, coordinated the Peripatetic Poets reading series in Columbus, and served as President of the Ohio Poetry Association. Below, we have gathered the sentiment of those poets who crossed paths with Doug, expressed by a few who worked with him in the poetry community. More about Doug, including examples of his fine poetry, can be read at his website: dougrutledge.com.

"Doug served as OPA President from 2008 to 2010, and he and his wife, Rebecca, graciously hosted OPA’s business meetings in the Areopagitica Books store. Doug’s efforts to connect OPA members to well-published, highly respected poets, especially those who worked primarily as educators, helped to bring a greater emphasis on craft to the organization’s programming. He also re-envisioned the newsletter by including articles on poetic analysis and reviews. I served with him as a contributing newsletter editor and then as OPA secretary, laying the foundation of my involvement with the organization. He was a kind, generous man and one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I will miss him greatly."
– Chuck Salmons

"To be sure, Doug Rutledge was a tall man and handsome too – but he was soft spoken with a gracious demeanor, in other words, Doug was a true gentle man. My first encounter dates back to 2003 when he and his wife breathed life into Areopagitica, their vintage and antiquarian book shop, a place that turned into a neighborhood hub, a community gathering place. None other but its proprietors, Doug and Rebecca, extended that warm welcome beyond creed and all else, turning the back of their store into a center for writers' groups, poetry readings, music sessions, and coffeehouse gatherings. To expand on a quote by fellow Clintonville resident Bill Cohen who remarked about Areopagitica upon its closing seven years later that it has a body and a soul – so does Doug; while his body has died, his soul lives on in our fond memories of the voice of this poet, his advocacy of the craft of writing, his passion about the creative impulse, and his leadership of the Ohio Poetry Association (OPA). The OPA is so much the richer of having found in him a dedicated supporter and past president who remained active and true to the cause to his very end. Not even half a year ago, I had the privilege to aid him in his invitational grant proposal for poets Angie Estes and Mark Irwin during National Poetry Month. Doug, eloquently but ever so humbly, impressed upon the Greater Columbus Arts Council that National Poetry Month would be well served by their workshops and readings. And in April, there he was, introducing both poets to the audience…"
– Susann Moeller

Three OPA presidents: Mark Hersman (left), Doug Rutledge (center), and Chuck Salmons
at the book launch for
A Rustling and Waking Within in 2017.
"As I sat in the backyard of Bill and Randi Cohen during the beautiful memorial service, they held for Doug last week, I imagined seeing his statuesque frame standing in the shadows and hearing his melodious baritone in the breeze. What a gracious man Doug was. I first met him twenty years ago when I moved to Columbus. He invited me to critique sessions where he, Chuck Salmons, and I sat on living room chairs in the front window of Areopagitica Books and talked craft. I was appreciative to connect with local poets and to connect with Doug, a poet with such lively, professorial ways. I always found his poetry inspiring in its depth and sophistication. Just last year, when he invited me to be a feature in the Peripatetic Reading series, he not only granted me the opportunity to use that time as a book launch, but also offered to write a most generous blurb for my new collection. I am grateful for his friendship, mentorship, and most of all, the way he walked his talk as an impassioned world citizen."
– Rikki Santer

"Doug and I, who knew each other from the bookstore Areopagitica, became especially good friends when, last winter and spring, I was able to meet and bring him home after chemo treatments. Though he was often terribly tired and in pain, he was always happy to talk–about poetry, of course, but also about history, politics and language. He wanted to improve his French. He also continued to read seriously, Vergil’s Aeneid, for instance. Of his death, I think of Doug as sliding quietly into the sea, and I am very, very sad."
– Craig McVay

"My husband and I were introduced to OPA during trips to the Areopagitica Book Store which were highlighted by brief but always meaningful encounters with one of its proprietors, Doug. We loved to come early to the meetings to browse in the bookstore and return home with one o the other treasure. We both appreciated Doug’s emphasis on the craft of poetry in the workshops. During my online teaching in nursing, I am referring students in service learning projects involved with Somali refugees to Doug’s insightful book: The Somali Diaspora: A Journey Away. And so, Doug lives on, beyond the confines of his life."
– Sharon Mooney

"I will always remember the moment Doug asked me to serve as Vice President of the Ohio Poetry Association. It was a great honor to work closely with him and see the organization thrive under his leadership (2008-2010). Guided by a sound vision, he invited well established Ohio poets to share with our members their knowledge through poetry readings and workshops. He inspired me as a poet and friend to read more American, British, and world literature to bring insight to and deepen my own poetry. He served as an inspiring example when I witnessed how his poetry grew and transformed through his MFA studies with Angie Estes and Mark Irwin. I was very sad when I learned of his death. He touched the lives of so many in the poetry community. I miss him."
– Deborah Strozier