Essentially Athens cover

The cover for "Essentially Athens."

The City of Athens and Athens Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour have announced publication of “Essentially Athens Ohio,” a place-based collection of poetry, story, song and fine art “celebrating all that is the heart and hearth of Athens and Athens County,” according to a news release. 

• “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 OU football game.”

• “I live on the West Side, 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.”

Do these memories sound familiar?

The release for “Essentially Athens Ohio” notes about the city: 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.”

Morre than 100 poets, essayists, storytellers, songwriters and fine artists have come together in this collection, according to the release, which adds, “The work is raw, honest and steeped in all things Athens; from the foothills to the stadium, uptown to throughout the county. 

“Pulling together this book has been an exercise of personal growth, discovery and joy,” Gunter-Seymour, who also is a poet and photographer, said in the release.  “Every submission I received felt like a gift. The work is honest and steeped in all things Athens. I have included the fine art from the ‘Art Outside the Box’ project, the extraordinary artworks selected to adorn the utility boxes throughout Athens City. This book will allow readers to become more connected to or to reconnect with Athens County and our extraordinary community, a place my family has called home for three generations.”

In the book, professor Dinty Moore, director of Creative Writing at Ohio University, writes, “A decade ago, when I accepted a teaching position at Ohio University, a friend who had lived in the area for many years predicted I would fall in love with the tiny college town nestled in the Appalachian foothills ‘Springtime in Athens,’ he promised, ‘will move you to tears.’”

Poet Devin Aeh Canary was awarded the ACLU’s Courageous Advocate Award while in high school for creating and distributing an underground paper at Nelsonville York High School despite the administration’s threats to expel her. She writes: “i’m still in the country, with my dogs / staring up at the sky knowing i’m not god / neither is money / nor other people’s opinions of me.”

Fine artist Chris Leonard is a near-lifelong resident of Athens County who attended both Federal Hocking High School and Ohio University. He is a member of and mentor for The Athens Photo Project. Poet Pamela Kircher’s great-grandfather was the contractor who built Ellis Hall.

“Essentially Athens Ohio,” with its release a bit of good timing with the holidays just around the corner, can be purchased locally at Little Professor Book Center and Dairy Barn Art Center or ordered online at An official book launch and celebration is scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 8, at Arts West in Athens.

The book will be for sale, and many of the writers and fine artists are slated to attend to be available for questions, conversations and signing books. Light refreshments will be served.

Poet Jeffrey Hanson worked as a construction laborer, landscaper, security guard, janitor, journeyman roofer, and U.S. Navy sailor before receiving a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at Ohio University. He ends his poem: “Free-spirited, love-loving citizen, mine, / I know what you’ll do / next time we meet at Donkey./ Placing an Americano back on the table, / you’ll say: ‘Do what you like, man. It’s cool.’”

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