Sunday, April 1, 2018

Kari Gunter-Seymour named Poet Laureate of Athens, Ohio

Kari Gunter-Seymour was recently named poet laureate of Athens by the Athens Municipal Arts Commission (AMAC). Gunter-Seymour began her tenure as poet laureate on February 19, 2018.

A third-generation Athens County native and longtime OPA member, Gunter-Seymour will hold the position of poet laureate for one year and, pending an evaluation at the end of her first year, potentially a second. She will have access to a $2,000 stipend to pursue projects as poet laureate.

Gunter-Seymour holds a BFA in graphic design and a MA in commercial photography, but she is a self-taught poet. She started writing poetry after her son was deployed for Korea in 2002 and is now an active member of the arts community in southeastern Ohio and an award-winning poet.

“I woke up each morning, when I was able to sleep, wondering if my son was alive,” said Gunter-Seymour. “It was poetry, finding those few precious words to explain my fear and analyze my faith, that kept me grounded, got me through.”

The many awards she has won for her poetry include two Pushcart Prizes and a first-place finish in the BlackBerryPeach Spoken and Heard competition, sponsored by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. However, Gunter-Seymour said that the position of poet laureate is different from any other she has held or award she has won. The Athens community is growing as a center for diversity and the arts, and she owes much of her success to the place and the people that helped her get where she is now.

This service to my community is something deeply personal for me,” said Gunter-Seymour. “A way of giving back in honor of all who reached out to me to ease my journey.

Gunter-Seymour already has a number of projects she hopes to implement. She has created an official Athens Poet Laureate Facebook page for poets to interact and connect, and she has scheduled monthly poetry readings at The Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens. She’ll also be spending time working with Athens High School students towards the end of March. She has scheduled her first reading and discussion as poet laureate for April 26 at ARTS/West in Athens.

Her future plans include a coffee table book entitled Expressly Athens, “a place-based mixture of community poetry submissions and art that has been selected for ‘Art Outside the Box’ throughout the years.” “Art Outside the Box” is a project that creates vinyl wraps from juried fine art submissions to cover the city’s traffic control boxes. Poetry for ages kindergarten through adult will be accepted for jury starting in September.

Upcoming Poetry Event Organized
by Gunter-Seymour
Gunter-Seymour’s biggest goal for her time as poet laureate is to “bring all who wish to participate in poetry – write it, read it, teach it, share it – together as many times as possible, in environments conducive to rich interactions, networking and empowerment building. I want everyone to have a voice in what is/should/could be happening with poetry in Athens County.”

As someone who had a long and non-traditional path to becoming an acclaimed poet, Gunter-Seymour wants to provide opportunities for both established poets and beginners to grow and share their work. She hopes that the position of poet laureate will open some doors that would otherwise have been closed to her, allowing her a level of autonomy to organize poets and events.

“I want to spend time with my fellow poets in celebration of the natural beauty that surrounds us here in Athens, [as well as] our inclusive attitude, our inventiveness, our interconnectedness, diversity, and love of the land and the arts,” said Gunter-Seymour.

Learn more about Kari at her website:

Written by Abby Studebaker, OPA Intern

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, Kari! Crisis Chronicles Press is so pleased to have had to opportunity to publish your new book, Serving, this past week. Write on!