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Poet Laureate's new collection showcases the essence of Athens

Published: November 18, 2019 Author: Staff reports

The City of Athens and Kari Gunter-Seymour -- OHIO adjunct professor, photographer and Athens Poet Laureate -- announced the publication of “Essentially Athens Ohio,” a place-based collection of poetry, story, song and fine art celebrating all that is the heart and hearth of Athens and Athens county.

An official book launch and celebration is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at ARTS/West, 132 W. State St., Athens, Ohio. The book will be for sale and many of the writers and fine artists will be attending and available for questions, conversations and to sign books. Light refreshments will be served.

“I came to Athens for my undergrad and never left.” “I first visited Athens when my high school marching band attended a halftime performance at an O.U. football game.” “I live on the Westside, grow herbs and sweet potatoes in patio pots.” “I left Athens after my undergrad studies and scratch my head as to why I so often think of my time there, daydream about returning someday.” Sound familiar?

Athens, Ohio. Many who come, stay. Those who leave can never quite set aside the pull, the echo that reverberates no matter how far they roam – CASA, the Burrito Buggy, the Bike Path, New-2-You, bricks, church bells at noon, your favorite local or professor. Over 100 poets, essayists, storytellers, songwriters and fine artists have come together in this very special collection. The work is raw, honest and steeped in all things Athens; from the foothills to the stadium, uptown to throughout the county.

“Pulling together this book has been an exercise of personal growth, discovery and joy,” says Gunter-Seymour.  “Every submission I received felt like a gift. The work is honest and steeped in all things Athens. I have included the fine art from the “Art Outside the Box” project; the extraordinary artworks selected to adorn the utility boxes throughout Athens City. This book will allow readers to become more connected to or to reconnect with Athens County and our extraordinary community, a place my family has called home for three generations.”

Professor Dinty Moore, director of creative writing at Ohio University writes, “A decade ago, when I accepted a teaching position at Ohio University, a friend who had lived in the area for many years predicted I would fall in love with the tiny college town nestled in the Appalachian foothills ‘Springtime in Athens,’ he promised, ‘will move you to tears.’”

Poet Devin Aeh Canary was awarded the ACLU’s Courageous Advocate Award while in high school for creating and distributing an underground paper despite the administration’s threats to expel her. She writes: “i’m still in the country, with my dogs/ staring up at the sky knowing i’m not god/ neither is money/ nor other people’s opinions of me.”

Fine artist Chris Leonard is a near-lifelong resident of Athens County and attended both Federal Hocking High School and Ohio University. He is a member of and mentor for The Athens Photo Project. Poet Pamela Kircher’s great-grandfather was the contractor who built Ellis Hall.

“Essentially Athens Ohio” is perfect for gift giving and can be purchased locally at Little Professor Book Center and Dairy Barn Art Center or ordered online at Amazon.com.

Poet Jeffrey Hanson worked as a construction laborer, landscaper, security guard, janitor, journeyman roofer, and U.S. sailor before receiving a Ph.D. in creative writing at hio University. He ends his poem: “Free-spirited, love-loving citizen, mine, / I know what you’ll do / next time we meet at Donkey./ Placing an Americano back on the table, / you’ll say: ‘Do what you like, man. It’s cool.’”