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DIRT SONGS - frontcover.jpg


EastOver Press


Cover Photo:

Rachel Claire (PEXELS)

Cover Design:

EK Larken

Dirt Songs


“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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