ALONE IN THE HOUSE OF MY HEART
Ohio University Swallow Press
"A breathtaking, artful set of poems on loss, family, place, and memory.
We reckon that nine generations in Appalachia is long enough for a place to get in the bones of a family, and that kinheritance has marked Kari Gunter-Seymour with an intuitive feel for one of America’s most isolated and peculiar regions.
"Kari Gunter-Seymour’s new book, Alone in the House of My Heart, feels like an invitation to pull up a chair at her kitchen table and stay awhile.
"Gunter-Seymour’s talent shines like a diamond in this collection: solid, clear, sparkling." Southern Literary Review
“The poems of Kari Gunter-Seymour’s Alone in the House of My Heart are ragged with loss, yet sustained by all they take in through the senses, from Mother’s ‘cat-eye glasses, Pentecostal bun,’ whispering ‘loud enough / for the soprano section to hear,’ to ‘collards and heirloom tomatoes / strapped to stakes like sinners / begging the lash.’ As the details accrue, they generate a place conjured by memory, the Appalachia of the speaker’s upbringing, where she nested in the loft of the barn in the hay, ‘spicy sweet,’ and where canned fruit cocktail is the ultimate delicacy. Still, it is a place sowed with the seeds of its own undoing—fracking, coal dust, addiction. Language itself is somehow larger even than the consciousness that creates it, more expansive than right and wrong, and ‘free of the splintery / cold of our foolish selves,’ poetry, which here is synonymous with hard-won love.”
—Diane Seuss, author of frank: sonnets
“Kari Gunter-Seymour weaves memory, place, love, and pain into a vibrant, complex tapestry of her native southeastern Ohio Appalachia. ‘So much here depends upon / a green corn stalk, a patched barn roof, / weather, the Lord, community,’ she writes. The images in these poems are striking, the language fresh. We smell ‘the tang of weeping cherry,’ see up close the devastation of ‘fracking waste, red clay dust, the bitter soot / of coal’s see ya later sucka!’ Her people are flesh and blood: a great-grandfather ‘at seventy, / firm of belly, back plumb as a disc blade,’ her mother ‘bronzed and shapely’ in a field of daffodils. Alone in the House of My Heart is a deeply moving portrayal of family and home, inheritance and loss, written by a poet whose gift is to insist ‘ordinary things be somehow more.’”
—Ellen Bass, author of Indigo
“Kari Gunter-Seymour’s poems are full of passion: passion for people, passion for place, passion for imagination. Her images are ‘pinpricks grey and blue’ that inhabit us as readers, feed us strength, and give us history—the good, the bad, and the triumphant. In poem after poem, [she] gives us a map to the unsayable and the courage to say it. She knows the pleasures of daily living, the dignity of grieving, and the terror of loss. She knows that when ‘the alcohol has stopped working,’ all we have are words to get us by, get us through, and get us over.”
—Allison Joseph, author of Confessions of a Barefaced Woman
It is [the] combination of hard truth and humor, love and the ache of loss right below it that draws me in. These poems stubbornly celebrate the people and landscape of Appalachia, they are American, melancholy, life-loving and I wish I could quote every word of "An Appalachian Woman’s Guide to Drinking” here, but you’ll just have to read it for yourself.
—Alison Luterman, author of In The Time of Great Fires
A PLACE SO DEEP
IT CAN'T BE SEEN
Sheila-Na-Gig Editions 2020
I THOUGHT I HEARD A CARDINAL SING:
OHIO'S APPALACHIAN VOICES
Sheila-Na-Gig Editions 2022
Cover Art: Keith Wilde
Crisis Chronicles 2020
Sheila-Na-Gig Editions 2021
"Kari Gunter-Seymour's A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen does what journalists and J.D. Vance failed to do: it provides an intimate look at a landscape and family from within Appalachia while recognizing that one story does not the region make. That said, the connections Gunter-Seymour creates throughout her book weave the Appalachian and American together, providing a rare glimpse of what unity might look like."
- Jessica Cory CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW
“Generations pass and still we toil/scratch at scars, lose track of the path home” Kari Gunter-Seymour writes in her poignant new collection A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen .These searing poems, however, have no trouble tracing the path to the ground of the poet’s making—her childhood home—and to her mother and father, unforgettable, as flesh, ghost and memory. These poems feel necessary and real and stark as the Appalachian Mountains themselves.
-Rita Sims Quillen, author of Wayland and The Mad Farmer’s Wife
I know with all my knowing others are going to talk about A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen as a fine example of Appalachian writing, and they would be correct, but what I read in this body of work makes me believe in a raw, uncontainable power, the kind that changes and shapes entire mountain ranges, that can fill black holes, that turns flames back onto what is already burned saying “This far, no farther.” This work represents one woman against a world-class destructive force and she will not be silenced. Such power is rarely found.
-Stellasue Lee, Editor Emerita, Rattle, author of Queen of Jacks New and Selected Poems
In A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen, Kari Gunter-Seymour writes with clear, evocative language as she weaves stories of her people, especially the strong women in her life who are portrayed honestly and with compassion. She takes us along on an intergenerational journey through roles as daughter, granddaughter, mother, grandmother, all closely connected to those who came before and those yet to return home. These vivid poems, deeply rooted in place and nature, are filled with images of a life spent in northern Appalachia. Gunter-Seymour writes of planting by the signs and the music of Hank and Dolly, but moves onto contemporary themes like border walls and legacies of war. In these poems, the past meshes with the present, and provides solid footing to face the future.
-Jayne Moore Waldrop, author of Retracing My Steps.
Within these pages you will find a lavish mix of voices—Affrilachian, Indigenous, non-binary and LGBTQ; from teens to those creatively aging; poets in recovery, some with disabilities or developmental differences; emerging and well established; some living in the state, others from assorted locations throughout the country—all with a deep connection to Ohio (Central) Appalachia.
“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.”
Director of Creative Writing, Ohio University
“I Thought I Heard A Cardinal Sing, Ohio’s Appalachian Voices brings to life the graceful rolling hills, the pockets and valleys, the generous souls, the vivid fruits and plants and birdlife that make Appalachian Ohio so entirely unforgettable. This diverse collection of precise, evocative poems sings the praises of a singular place and a people. A truly wonderful book.”
—Dinty W. Moore,
Author of The Mindful Writer
The poems in Kari Gunter-Seymour’s Serving are so tender, reading them hurts—but it’s a sweet ache, the kind worth enduring. The collection begins with the speaker’s memory of her son as a young boy, in “Oshkosh bibs and tiny / red tennis shoes,” but in the next poem, he is a young adult, deploying with his “tactical gear” and “newly shaved head.” Why isn’t this juxtaposition jarring? Because that fierce, abiding love is a kind of umbilicus between a mother and her child, regardlessof age or distance. The poems in Serving are so much about place—about home—whether Appalachia or Kandahar. As Gunter-Seymour shows us, poem after masterful poem, serving is not only about sacrifice, what those in the military do for our country. Serving is also what we do for one another, for the people we call home, no matter where they are.
-Maggie Smith, Good Bones
Kari Gunter-Seymour boldly pens poems that imagine war and take a peak. I still can be stubborn about “can you write about it if you haven’t lived it?” Gunter-Seymour can. These are some of the best military poems, mother’s perspective or not, that I have ever read. Serving should be mandatory reading for military personnel of all branches and their families. The poems have the ability to delve into the deep meaningful conversations of intimate connection. Serving begins with “Photo of You, 1985,” which explores the images of the past that help define the bond between a mother and her son. The small book ends with “No Word from Kandahar,” a poem that invited me to understand that the picture, the image, the memory isn’t good enough anymore. Words are needed. Maybe a picture isn’t always worth a thousand words. And in that invitation, Gunter-Seymour reminds me of the power of poetry itself.
-J.M. Green, The Novice Angler, Librarian at Xavier University
The reader can’t help but step completely inside Kari Gunter-Seymour’s Serving. Each poem is whole, yet together these pieces build to the larger story of a mother reaching out to her son through any distance. From Southern Ohio to Kandahar and back. From “Your soft boy head, earthy and damp, / nestled in the crook of my shoulder” to “Those times you are trip-wired, / in that space between breaths.” This book rings with specific truth. I want to give a copy to every parent with a child in the military, give a copy to every politician. Or simply ask them to pause and listen for the minute it takes to read the title poem, “Serving,” because it’s not possible to take that in with an open heart and come away unchanged.
-Laura Grace Weldon, Blackbird, Ohio Poet of the Year, 2019, Author of The Mindful Writer
"Singer/songwriter Roberta Schultz says, “A storyteller stands upon a stage/to share beginnings of this sacred place,” in one of her songs in Women Speak, the Women of Appalachia Project’s newest anthology, a rich, eclectic gathering of writing, visual art, songs, and photography from women from all around the region. It’s a challenging collection of straight talk about motherhood and marriage, body shaming and senseless violence, love and loss, the long past and the present, about women who fight back and lose, and fight back and win. These artists know all about the modern world, but they also know what tatting is, how to quilt, raise chickens, work in factories, farm and garden— living a life of hard work and sometimes harder luck. But mostly, these women remind us of the powerful beauty of these hills, their own fierce spirits, and the triumph of their individual journeys in these powerful works."
- Rita Sims Quillen, author of Wayland and Some Notes You Hold
“Despite the educational and economic inequalities in Appalachia, despite the lack of adequate healthcare and jobs, despite the lack of infrastructure, there are women, such as these, who have contributed to the “Women Speak” anthology, standing in defiance, their words and art like steel girders. In this anthology, this hope chest of creativity, it is the power of the feminine that covers grief with love, suffering with resilience, disappointment with hope, and vulnerability with pride. Some of these poems, stories, songs, memories, and art pieces will make readers smile, even laugh; some will bring them to awed silence or tears; but all will leave them with a sense of what it means to be “stitched at the seam of the mountain.” These are offerings of survival and strength. Despite all the forces set in place to silence them, these beautiful, fierce women speak and in their voices and truths, there is no lack at all.”
-Poet Sandy Coomer, Available Light, Director, Rockvale Writers Colony
EDITED BY: Kari Gunter-Seymour
Order Volume 6 HERE
Order Volume 5 HERE
Order Volume 4 HERE
Order Volume 3 HERE
Order Volume 2 HERE
“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 one hundred 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. Join us as we celebrate all that is the heart and hearth of Athens, Ohio. – Kari Gunter-Seymour, Athens Poet Laureate
EDITED BY: Kari Gunter-Seymour
ESSENTIALLY ATHENS OHIO
Independently Published 2019