Kari Gunter-Seymour

Kari Gunter-Seymour of Albany in a provided photo.

Local poet Kari Gunter-Seymour of Albany is the first-place winner of the 2017 BlackBerryPeach Spoken and Heart Competition, the National Federation of State Poetry Societies announced last week.

The BlackBerryPeach is a major NFSPS competition that challenges poets to present their original poetry in print and spoken word.

In a news release with the announcement, Vice President Joe Cavanaugh, chair of the contest stressed the importance of reaching out to all poets, by recognizing spoken poetry in its many forms as a powerful poetic genre.

As first-place winner, Gunter-Seymour receives the grand prize of $1,000 and is invited to speak her work at the NFSPS national convention in Ft. Worth, Texas on July 1, 2017. “NFSPS is excited to showcase Kari and her signature Appalachian poetry and voice,” Cavanaugh said in the release.

Twice a pushcart nominee, Gunter-Seymour holds a BFA in graphic design and an master’s in commercial photography and is an instructor in the School of Journalism at Ohio University. In the news release, “she blames her method of writing and performing on the rich soil of Appalachia, her wildly eclectic family and neighbors and her upbringing.”

Her chapbook “Serving” was chosen runner-up in the 2016 Yellow Chair Review Annual Chapbook Contest. Her poems can be found in numerous literary journals, as well as on her website: www.karigunterseymourpoet.com.

Gunter-Seymour is the founder/director of the “Women of Appalachia Project,” an arts organization in its eighth season that she created to address discrimination directed at women from the Appalachian region.

A video of Gunter-Seymour’s convention performance, along with the other award winners  will be posted on YouTube via the NFSPS website, and NFSPS will design and publish the prizewinning entries from the first-, second- and third-place winners, and three honorable mentions including four poems from each, in a 6-by-9 inch chapbook that will be marketed on Amazon.com.

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