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