As Poet Laureate of Ohio Kari Gunter-Seymour focuses on lifting up underrepresented voices throughout Appalachia, including incarcerated teens and adults and women in recovery. Her poetry collections include Alone in the House of My Heart (Ohio University Swallow Press, 2022), finalist for the NIEA award; A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen (Sheila Na Gig Editions, 2020), winner of the 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year Award and Dirt Songs (forthcoming EastOver Press 2024). A ninth generation Appalachian, she is the editor of I Thought I Heard A Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices, funded by the Academy of American Poets and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and the Women of Appalachia Project’s anthology series, Women Speak. Gunter-Seymour is a retired instructor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University; the host of Spoken & Heard, a seasonal performance series featuring poets, writers, and musicians from across the country; a Pillars of Prosperity Fellow for the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio and an artist in residence for the Writing the Land project. Her work has been featured on Verse Daily, World Literature Today, The New York Times and Poem-a-Day.
Caitlin Kraus (she/her) is a songwriter/musician, mental health counselor, and music therapist living in Athens, OH. She performs both solo and with a band under her name, and has released two albums of her original music: What Rises (2020) and Gone Beyond (2023). Her music is melodic, largely lyric-based, and falls within indie-folk/alternative genres. She strongly believes in the power of music and writing as a vehicle for connecting to oneself, to others, and to the world around us. When she is not counseling, engaging in music therapy, or performing, she enjoys drawing, making collages, reading, hiking, and spending time with her family, friends, and dogs.
Madeline ffitch writes and organizes in Appalachian, Ohio. Her work can be found in The Paris Review, Harper’s Magazine, Granta, and elsewhere. She is the author of the short story collection VALPARAISO, ROUND THE HORN, as well as the novel STAY AND FIGHT, which was the Ohio Great Reads pick for the 2023 National Book Festival, as well as a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Debut Novel Award. She is at work on a novel about Appalachian antifascism.
Lawrence R Greene is the founder of Ugata: drum and dance. It was started as a way to connect Southern Ohio with Pan African culture. Ugata is the study of a set of rhythms from the African diaspora. Lawrence provides programs, classes and performances mostly in southern Ohio and West Virginia. He was a co-founder of Rising Appalachian Warriors, youth education camp. He was also lead naturalist at Highlands Nature Sanctuary and The Wilds. https://www.facebook.com/ugatas
Molly Jo Stanley (they/she/we) is deeply enchanted by our miraculous existence. For over half of their lifetime, they have been immersed in the studies of regenerative stewardship practices - exploring how becoming more attuned to the world, communities, and bodies we inhabit can enrich our lives in limitless ways. In decades of wandering, they have collected their share of diplomas, certificates and degrees in Natural and Historical Interpretation, Yoga teacher training, Permaculture Design, Herbalism, Wilderness guiding, and a Masters of Education in Mindfulness and Sustainability. They’ve explored a gamut of livelihoods - learning, living, and teaching in a myriad of biomes as a wilderness trip leader, herbalist and yoga practitioner, farmer, sustainability director, traveling musician, ecstatic dance organizer, and environmental advocate. Ultimately, their work is rooted in stories – in listening to and sharing them. It is through the stories we learn, believe, and tell that we shape our world. Jo grows increasingly curious as to how we can shift our narrative from that of separation to one of connection and belonging. In rekindling inseverable connections to ourselves, each other, and all beings, Jo seeks a path toward an equitable, resilient, and vibrant future.
Singer-songwriter Megan Bee writes with an unquenchable wanderlust and a deep love for the land. Her album Cottonwood has been called "as real as it gets" and was listed in the best of 2022 by Americana UK and No Depression Magazine. Her music is a blend of distinctly homespun vocals, acoustic simplicity, yearning soulfulness, and winsome storytelling. Her background as an environmental educator, farmhand, and vagabond once took her into a desert wilderness where she found her voice around a campfire. She bases in the rolling hills of Athens, Ohio and draws influence from the collision of Appalachian folk and modern songwriting. She has release five albums of original work and tours relentlessly. Words in the Hills is her passion project that brings together her love of writing, nature, and coming together to learn.