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New Poetry Collection Celebrates Appalachian Ohio Voices

Foundation for Appalachian Ohio Pillar Fellow to Hold Series of Readings 

Nelsonville, OH – The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) is pleased to announce the publication of I Thought I Heard A Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices, a one-of-a-kind collection of poetry focused specifically on the unique cultural experiences of poets located in or connected to Appalachian Ohio.

The anthology was conceived and produced by Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour. A graphic artist as well as a poet, Gunter-Seymour designed the anthology, recruited and edited the collection. It is a lavish mix of voices — Affrilachian, Indigenous, non-binary and LGBTQ; from teens to those creatively aging; poets in recovery, some differently-abled or with developmental differences; emerging and well-established; some living in the state, others from assorted locations throughout the country — but all with a deep connection to Appalachian Ohio. Gunter-Seymour currently is serving an unprecedented second term as Ohio’s laureate.

Gunter-Seymour is FAO’s first Arts & Culture Pillar Fellow. Through the I’m a Child of Appalachia® Fund, FAO creates opportunities across five programmatic areas known as Pillars of Prosperity: Arts & Culture; Community & Economic Development; Education; Environmental Stewardship; and Health & Human Services. The Pillars of Prosperity Fellowship Program provides targeted support to individual leaders to help them grow their impact from one local community to many. Gunter-Seymour is among three Fellows in the 2021 inaugural class.

Publication of the anthology was made possible by the Academy of American Poets with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. With additional funding provided by FAO, a copy of the anthology will be supplied to all public libraries throughout Ohio and to all Appalachian Ohio middle and high schools, allowing access for Ohioans of all ages to read the poems and experience examples of Appalachian Ohio heritage and culture.

“We are thrilled to have Kari Gunter-Seymour serving as a Fellow of our Arts & Culture Pillar of Prosperity and to support this wonderful anthology highlighting what it means to be a Child of Appalachia,” said Cara Dingus Brook, FAO president and CEO. “We believe this unique collection will encourage our region’s students and educators to tell their own rich stories.”

“People often forget, and many do not even know, that nearly one quarter of the State of Ohio rests inside Appalachia proper,” said Gunter-Seymour, “and pockets of Appalachian families who out-migrated generations ago prominently exist throughout the state, still firmly attached to their Appalachian roots. This collection is an intimate look at landscape and family from within Central Appalachia, delving far deeper than mainstream journalism.”

Ten “Meet the Poets” reading events are scheduled throughout the state over the next several months, beginning with the anthology’s launch on Wednesday, March 16 at 6:30 p.m., at the historic Mercantile Library, in Cincinnati, sponsored by the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition. Additional readings will be held in Westerville, Ironton, Marietta, Youngstown, Akron, Athens, Toledo, South Euclid and Coshocton. These readings will allow Ohio Appalachian voices to fill the air and provide opportunities for contributors to meet each other and connect with Ohio communities across the entire state. Event information is available here:

Mark Halliday, Director of Creative Writing, Ohio University, wrote of the anthology, “This abundant anthology encompasses many styles and vantage points and backgrounds, creating a richly detailed tapestry of human experience in Appalachian Ohio. There is a pervasive sense of stoical courage in dealing with the rough edges of life; and many poems recognize and honor that struggle in the lives of past generations. The cumulative evocation of imaginative persistence in wooded valleys and on winding hilly roads and in hundreds of towns is seriously moving.”

Copies of the anthology can be purchased directly from the publisher, Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, at Discount pricing is available for schools and non-profits.

Since 1998, FAO has been working with donors who are passionate about Appalachian Ohio, its communities, and its future. The organization helps donors give back in ways that are meaningful – to them and to our region.

To learn more about the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio and opportunities to give, grow and create with FAO, visit or contact or 740-753-1111.

To learn more about Gunter-Seymour and of I Thought I Heard A Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices, visit

About the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio
The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) is a regional community foundation serving the 32 counties of Appalachian Ohio. A 501(c)(3) public charity, the Foundation creates opportunities for Appalachian Ohio’s citizens and communities by inspiring and supporting philanthropy. For more information about FAO, visit and follow FAO on Facebook and Instagram.