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DIRT SONGS - frontcover.jpg


EastOver Press


Cover Photo:

Rachel Claire (PEXELS)

Cover Design:

EK Larken

Dirt Songs

"Kari Gunter-Seymour proves she is at the top of her game by evoking both the wild energy and lustful passion of youth and the regrets such indulgences oft engender later in life." - Donna Meredith, Southern Literary Review


"A modern-day Joanie Appleseed, Gunter-Seymour collects poems and carries them to poemless places, carefully situating them in spaces where they can flourish. In the new collection Dirt Songs, the latest collection in her own growing body of work, she takes a deep dive into the secrets of the soil, unearthing buried memories and the histories of those who have come before her." - Jessica Manack, Mom Egg Review


“Ohio Poet Laureate Gunter-Seymour tells a decades-spanning, lyrical story of Appalachia in which the personal is both political and generational. A noteworthy and insightful poetic portrait.” Kirkus


“Those last afternoons we walked the tracks hand in hand,/making up songs, going nowhere.” These final lines of “Photo 1985” are two of many that will haunt me long after reading Kari Gunter-Seymour’s new book, a collection alive with lust, music, lost boys, lost dogs, food pantries, divorce, deployment, booze, birds, and love for a land buzzing with abundance. I admire the swagger and wisdom of this voice and the raw tenderness with which the poet greets her subjects, here and gone, present and past. A celebration and a dirge, Dirt Songs is a moving tribute to a place and its people.     —Kathy Fagan, author of Bad Hobby


The stark and often darkly funny poems in this collection suggest a re-direction is in order. It's a sense of return, and I find the poems here offer a loving and hopeful suggestion that such a return is possible. This is a book of many things, small and large, but it always tells its reader that poetry in its most honest rendering, is always a way forward. This is a book to celebrate and be glad we have it with us.    —Maurice Manning, author of Railsplitter

The poems in this collection are linked throughout by this dazzle, of a personal history that entwines with the cultural and political, and readers will come away from this collection with an understanding of the way the speaker has inserted herself­–and others–into the quoin of history: to follow each of these poems is to land solidly on the best unease existent. These poems both delight and displace. To hear one of Gunter-Seymour’s dirt songs is to listen, intently, to the symphony of the human condition.    —Jacinda Townsend, author of Saint Monkey and Mother Country

I read these poems to hear home—where we “warsh” our hands before "fixin to go”—these poems crafted with the art of saying the way that we say. This collection is a musical archive of a place, which could be Meigs County or the foothills, Huntington or Harlan. A place called Appalachia, where ‘it isn’t ever delicate to live.” A place oft-missing from the American imagination, where lives “fold into themselves like letters / in envelopes . . . squirreled away.” Kari deeply honors the reality of this place, this people. She is a poet who serves. These poems made me cry as they sang to me, like a grandparent singing hymns from another room. Bring your “sack of sorrows / laid open—perch on soil” with this storyteller, and find in these Dirt Songs, “a litany to hold off morning.”    Joy Priest, author of Horsepower




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