The anthology was conceived and produced by Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour. Graphic designer as much as poet, Gunter-Seymour designed the anthology, recruited and edited the collection. It’s a sumptuous mix of voices – Afrilachian, Indigenous, non-binary and LGBTQ; from teenagers to those aging creatively; recovering poets, some with different abilities or developmental differences; emerging and well established; some live in the state, others in various locations across the country, but all have a deep connection to Ohio’s Appalachia. Gunter-Seymour is currently serving an unprecedented second term as the Ohio winner.
Gunter-Seymour is FAO’s first Arts and Culture Pillar Fellow. Through the I’m a Child of Appalachia® Fund, FAO creates opportunities in five programmatic areas known as the Pillars of Prosperity: Arts and Culture; Community and economic development; Education; environmental stewardship; and Health and Social Services. The Pillars of Prosperity Fellowship Program provides targeted support to individual leaders to help them scale their impact from one local community to many. Gunter-Seymour is among three scholars in the inaugural class of 2021.
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 the FAO, a copy of the anthology will be provided to all Ohio public libraries and all Appalachian Ohio middle and high schools, enabling Ohioans of all ages to access reading the poems and discover examples of Ohio’s Appalachian heritage and legacy. culture.
“We are thrilled to have Kari Gunter-Seymour as a member of our Arts and Culture Prosperity Pillar and to support this wonderful anthology highlighting what it means to be an Appalachian kid,” said Cara Dingus Brook, President and CEO. of the FAO. “We believe this unique collection will encourage students and educators in our region to tell their own rich stories.
“People often forget, and many don’t even know, that nearly a quarter of the state of Ohio is right inside Appalachia,” Gunter-Seymour said, “and pockets of families Appalachians who emigrated generations ago exist prominently throughout the state, still firmly attached to their Appalachian roots.This collection is an intimate look at the landscape and family of central Appalachia, reaching far beyond traditional journalism.
Ten “Meet the Poets” reading events are planned across the state over the next few months, beginning with the anthology launch on Wednesday, March 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the historic Mercantile Library, Cincinnati, sponsored by the Appalachian urban community. Coalition. Additional readings will take place in Westerville, Ironton, Marietta, Youngstown, Akron, Athens, Toledo, South Euclid and Coshocton. These readings will allow the voices of Ohio’s Appalachians to be heard and provide contributors with the opportunity to meet and connect with Ohio communities across the state. Information about the event is available here: www.karigunterseymourpoet.com/cardinal-sing.
Mark Halliday, director of creative writing at Ohio University, wrote of the anthology: “This abundant anthology encompasses many styles, viewpoints and backgrounds, creating a richly detailed tapestry of human experience in Ohio’s Appalachia. There is a pervasive sense of stoic courage in the face of life’s rough edges; and many of the poems acknowledge and honor this struggle in the lives of past generations. The cumulative evocation of the imaginative persistence in wooded valleys and on winding, hilly roads and in hundreds of cities is very moving.
Copies of the anthology can be purchased directly from the publisher, Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, at heilanagigblog.com/cardinal-sing. Reduced rates are available for schools and non-profit organizations.
Since 1998, FAO has worked with donors who are passionate about Appalachian Ohio, its communities and its future. The organization helps donors give back in meaningful ways – for themselves and for the region.
For more on Gunter-Seymour and “I Thought I Heard A Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices,” visit www.karigunterseymourpoet.com/cardinal-sing.
About the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio: The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) is a regional community foundation serving the 32 counties of Appalachian Ohio. As a 501(c)(3) public charity, the Foundation creates opportunity for the citizens and communities of Appalachia in Ohio by inspiring and supporting philanthropy. For more information about FAO, visit www.AppalachianOhio.org and follow FAO on Facebook and Instagram.