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.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

OPA member Kari Gunter-Seymour wins NFSPS Competition

Contact: Joseph Cavanaugh

Poet Kari Gunter-Seymour is selected national winner

April 16, 2017 – The National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS) is pleased to announce the 1st place winner of the 2017 BlackBerryPeach Spoken and Heard competition, Kari Gunter-Seymour of Albany, OH. BlackBerryPeach is a major NFSPS competition that challenges poets to present their original poetry in print and spoken word, requiring submission of an audio file in mp3 or WAV format of four poems along with a manuscript.

Kari Gunter-Seymour
Vice President Joe Cavanaugh, chair of the contest stressed the importance of reaching out to all poets, by recognizing stage poetry in its many forms as a powerful poetic genre. All entries were reviewed for compliance and approximately 100 entries were selected as finalists and sent on to an independent judge for final selection.

As 1st place winner, Gunter-Seymour receives the grand prize of $1,000 and is invited to speak her work at the NFSPS national convention in Ft. Worth, TX on July 1, 2017. “NFSPS is excited to showcase Kari and her signature Appalachian poetry and voice,” Cavanaugh says.

Twice a pushcart nominee, Gunter-Seymour holds a B.F.A. in graphic design and an M.A. in commercial photography and is an instructor in the School of Journalism at Ohio University. She blames her method of writing and performing on the rich soil of Appalachia, her wildly eclectic family and neighbors and her upbringing. Her chapbook Serving was chosen runner up in the 2016 Yellow Chair Review Annual Chapbook Contest. Her poems can be found in numerous literary journals – Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Still: The Journal and Stirring, as well as on her website:

Gunter-Seymour is the founder/director of the “Women of Appalachia Project,” an arts organization in it’s 8th season she created to address discrimination directed at women from the Appalachian region. The project encourages participation from women artists (spoken word and fine art) of diverse backgrounds, ages and experiences to come together, embrace the stereotype, show the whole woman; beyond the superficial factors people use to judge her — providing opportunities to share art, receive recognition and encouragement, and build strong networks. In doing so, diverse populations are introduced to one of Appalachian’s greatest assets, its artists. (

The National Federation of State Poetry Societies ( 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 Gunter-Seymour’s convention performance will be posted on YouTube via the NFSPS website and NFSPS will design and publish the prizewinning entries from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners, four poems from each, in a 6" by 9"chapbook that it will market on

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Take Time to Celebrate National Poetry Month 2017

With April’s arrival comes the beginning of National Poetry Month, and in 2017, there’s no shortage of great events and activities to experience in Ohio. If you haven’t yet kicked off your celebration by attending a great reading or just plain reading great poetry this past weekend, take a look at some of the things offered by both OPA and local groups throughout the state, as well as offerings at the national level.


LaWanda Walters
John Drury
OPA is pleased to offer another of its free poetry workshops at Otterbein University on Saturday, April 8, when we welcome from Cincinnati the husband-and-wife poetry team of John Drury and LaWanda Walters. Get the full event details from the OPA website and come prepared for an engaging afternoon of wordsmithing.

 If you’re looking to make a weekend of poetry in the Columbus area, why not put the Ohioana Book Festival on your list? OPA is excited again to be partnering with the Ohioana Library to bring the 11th annual festival to life. Happening this weekend on April 78, the festival kicks off on Friday night with a poetry reading at The Book Loft in the German Village neighborhood, featuring some terrific Ohio poets, including Nin Andrews and Rikki Santer. Click here for details

Saturday features a book fair, readings, and plenty of panel discussions. If you go, stop by the OPA table and say hi to Grace Curtis and Logan Morales. We’ll also have copies of the new ekphrastic anthology available for purchase. Get complete festival info here.

Juan Felipe Herrera
A drive to Toledo on April 13 would be well worth it to hear a reading by the current U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera. He’ll be reading at the Main Branch of the Toledo Public Library. Get full event and ticket info here.

Amit Majmudar
 And speaking of poets laureate, you might want to mark your calendars for April 2122 and head for the Hocking Hills Festival of Poetry in Logan, Ohio. The Check out the Power of Poetry website for complete details on this free event. The theme this year is Three Generations and features current Ohio Poet Laureate Amit Majmudar, the venerable Herb Martin, and performance maven Shameaca Moore.

Other Tools & Resources

Need a little help finding poetry events in your area? Never fear, OPA website and Facebook page to keep up to date on happenings. We share info about OPA events but also info that’s passed along to us by other groups and organizations. The Resources & Links page on the OPA website is a great resource for info on Ohio presses, festivals, and more.

as there are a number of tools at your disposal. First, use the the Ohio Poetry Calendar is also a great way to learn about poetry events, including readings, workshops, and more. And if you’re looking or an open-mic venue to share your work, try

Looking for tools to help spark your own writing? Or did you dare to take the 30/30 challenge during National Poetry Month? If so, try signing up for the Read + Write: 30 Days of Poetry email list is a great way to read the works of Ohio poets and to get a daily prompt for writing your own poems.
Other resources worth exploring include the Wick Poetry Center, the Academy of American Poets, and the Poetry Foundation.

In the coming days, we hope you get inspired to write, to read, and to share your own work or perhaps a poem you love with friends, family, fellow poets, or even perfect strangers. One way to share is on Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 27. Take time that day to share with someone the magic that comes from poetry. Whatever steps you take to celebrate National Poetry Month, we hope you have a great time doing it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ohio Poetry Day Contest -- May 15, 2017 Deadline for Submissions

Don't miss this opportunity to be a part of Ohio Poetry Day. May 15 is the deadline for the dozens of contests that are a part of the event.

Here is a copy of the submission form. We realize the type is small. This is how it comes to OPA from Ohio Poetry Day staff in the mail. It's chocked full of great contest information, and as a result, the type is small. OPA recommends that in order to see it best, you should print a copy of the form which is in jpg or photo format. You can do that by saving the image to your computer and printing it.

You can also use your own paper as an entry form if you don't want to print off a copy of the form. Be sure to provide all the information required, including which poems you want to be considered for which contests. Follow all the submission instructions. (Many photo viewers will allow you to zoom out thereby enlarging the type so you can check to see that you have included everything.)  It is recommended that you contact the Ohio Poetry Day by writing to Amy Jo Zook at 3520 St. Rt. 56, Mechanicsburg, Ohio 43044, and ask to be placed on their mailing list so that next year you will get a form delivered to your home.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Ohio Poetry Association Releases New Poetry Anthology Focused on Art in Ohio

A Rustling and Waking Within cover
The Ohio Poetry Association (OPA) is releasing a new ekphrastic poetry anthology, titled, A Rustling and Waking Within. The collection is a celebration of art and poetry in Ohio. The 139-page perfect-bound book contains poems written by friends and members of OPA in response to various forms of art featured in Ohio's museums, galleries and many other venues, including homes. Works by Ohio artists, both older art and more contemporary, are included.  On the cover is a painting by Camille Pissarro (French, 1830–1903), titled, "The Roofs of Old Rouen, Gray Weather " used by permission from the Toledo Museum of Art. The project marks the culmination of four OPA writing events that were held in major art centers in Ohio.

An initial release event, at which contributors will read their poems against a visual projection of the art to which they responded, is slated for Saturday, March 11, 2017, from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, at the Wexner Center for the Arts, 1871 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43210. The event is free and open to the public and promises to be of interest not just to poets and artists but also to the general public. Along with a multimedia poetry reading, the afternoon will feature food, beverages, and raffles. Books will be sold at the event and poets will be available to sign them.

A second release event will be held on Sunday, March 12, 2017, at the Toledo Museum of Art, 2445 Monroe St., Toledo, Ohio 43620, beginning at 2:00 pm. Several more events at Ohio's art museums, coffee shops, and bookstores throughout the state are being planned. Information on these events can be found on the OPA website or on the OPA Facebook page as it becomes available.

The anthology was edited by Sharon Fish Mooney, herself a contributing poet and OPA member. Mooney organized the book by region of the state based on the art, and within each region, she organized poems based on when the art was created or displayed. She says: "The Ohio Poetry Association hopes that through this collection, the reader will want to view art that is currently located in Ohio or that has traveled through Ohio. We want the reader to get up close and personal by visiting the various venues where the art resides. Through these poems, we hope readers will experience some of what we as poets experienced when we viewed it."

The book features an introduction by Terry Hermsen, Professor of English, Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. In his introduction, he suggests "that the primary task of ekphrastic writing, whether in the form of poetry or not, lies in seeking out a dialogue between that original silence" that is art "and the cradle of words" that is poetry. He goes on to state: "Through entering that open space which lies like a hidden valley somewhere between a painting and poem, we might come to know art all over again."

A complete list of the 48 poets and poem titles featured in the book, as well as links to the art that inspired their poems, is available at the OPA website: Any organization that would like to sponsor a reading should email

The Ohio Poetry Association (OPA), chartered originally as the Verse Writers’ Guild of Ohio, is a nonprofit, educational volunteer organization with a 501(c)(3)Federal designation and a member of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Chartered in 1929, the Ohio Poetry Association promotes poetry and supports Ohio poets of all ages and in all stages of their writing lives by providing a variety of learning events, readings, and contests.

For more information about the event, contact Chuck Salmons, President, Ohio Poetry Association, at