Monday, June 29, 2020

Kari Gunter-Seymour is named Ohio Poet of the Year 2020

The Ohio Poetry Day Association has selected Kari Gunter-Seymour as its Ohio Poet of the Year for 2020. Gunter-Seymour was selected for her latest book of poems, A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2020).

Residing near Athens, Ohio, Gunter-Seymour is a ninth generation Appalachian and seeks to honor that heritage in her poetry. She often writes in the voices of those she encounters and uses a regional accent when she performs.

“As an Appalachian poet, I take great pride in my heritage,” Gunter-Seymour says. “For generations my ancestors have loved and worked the land, read their Bibles and migrated as the weather or wanderlust prescribed, handing down their knowledge and experiences through story and song.”

Chosen from among eight books nominated for Ohio Poet of the Year, A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen is Gunter-Seymour’s second poetry collection.

“This [Ohio Poet of the Year] award feels like a victory for all who came before me,” she said, “as well as all yet to come and for the untold number of Appalachian poets, writers and singer/songwriters who have touched my life and my writing in so many ways.”

Kathy Fagan, one of four judges and the 2017 Ohio Poet of the Year for her book Sycamore, calls Gunter-Seymour “a poet for whom family and region provide a well-source of words.”

Gunter-Seymour’s winning the award comes on the heels of her recently being selected as Ohio’s third State Poet Laureate by Governor Mike DeWine. She also previously was Poet Laureate of Athens, Ohio.

Gunter-Seymour is also the founder and Executive Director of the Women of Appalachia Project. This organization offers opportunities for women artists of Appalachian descent and diverse backgrounds, ages and experiences to participate in artistic programs as a way, according to its website, “to embrace the stereotype, to show the whole woman.” The Women of Appalachia Project sponsors spoken word events, poetry readings, fine art exhibitions and other artistic programs and publications.

The Ohio Poetry Day Association was founded in 1937 by authorization of the Ohio Legislature. Since 1976, it has selected annually an Ohio Poet of the Year, basing its choice on a book published in the previous one to two years. The award is based on the one book and not on an aggregation of work published over time. Four judges are selected to review the nominees, one of which is always a previous poet of the year winner.

“I was honored to read books by all the outstanding nominees for Ohio Poet of the Year,” said Fagan. “Gunter-Seymour joins an impressive list of previous winners, re-inscribing for each of us just how rich and deep Ohio’s poetic heritage has been.”

Another judge, Robin Mullet (co-author with Holli Rainwater of The Curve of Her Arm) said that being a judge was one of the most challenging tasks she has ever had because each of the nominees was deserving of the award.

“Although I have long known that Ohio was a treasure chest of poetry, I was still blown away by the depth, diversity and richness of the language of these skilled poets,” she said.

For more about our 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year, please visit karigunterseymourpoet.com.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Accepting 2020 Poet of the Year Nominations through May 1st

[Crossposted from the Ohio Poetry Association (not to be confused with the OPDA) blog:]

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.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

2020 Ohio Poetry Day Contests


For more information, please contact:

Ohio Poetry Day Association
c/o Amy Jo Zook
3520 State Route 56
Mechanicsburg, Ohio