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Three ways to read more Ohio authors in 2024

Books lined up on a shelf.
Kari Gunter Seymour said reading more in 2024 can help us better understand our neighbors and ourselves.

For Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter Seymour, reading is a way of better understanding her home state and all of its nuances.

As a ninth generation Appalachian, Seymour regularly writes about her home in southeast Ohio. She said reading authors from our region can be a way of building bridges with our neighbors, no matter how distinct their experiences may be.

“I go by the title of an Appalachian, yet I have people contacting me from Los Angeles saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I feel exactly like you’,” Seymour said. We really are so much alike in so many ways … If we just open ourselves to do a little bit of research and exchange.”

A woman wearing glasses and a sweater recites a poem with a piece of paper in her hand in front of art pieces.
Marcia Nighswander
Ohio University
Kari Gunter-Seymour recites a poem at the Women of Appalachia reception at the Ohio University Multicultural Center Art Gallery in 2016.

Here’s Seymour’s advice on how to integrate local literature into the new year.

Go to your local library

No matter what type of literature you like, Seymour said your local library is the best place to start. Seymour recommends heading straight to the front desk, explaining what genre you’re looking for, and spending some time in whichever direction the librarian points you in.

She said librarians are also some of the best people to offer recommendations of their own, so she advises not leaving their desk without hearing some of their favorites.

“I don't think there's a librarian in this state that won't be able to answer that question to whatever extreme you would like to have it,” Seymour said.

Many libraries have a local author section to peruse. Plus, Seymour said you can often ask libraries to order or transfer books from other libraries, if there’s a specific book or author you want to read that’s not already on the shelf.

Subscribe to a daily poetry newsletter

A great way to slowly integrate more reading into your life is with a small dose of literature each morning. Seymour recommends subscribing to a poetry newsletter that can give you a poem to reflect on each day.

“In fact, that's my new resolution: I'm going to keep doing that every morning. I'm going to read one or two poems so that they can be with me all day long and I can think about them and kind of help them guide my day,” Seymour said.

Seymour said there’s many online journals and podcasts that offer daily doses of poetry: Swwim Every Day, The Slowdown, and Poem-a-Day to name a few. But, if you want to stick with local poetry, try looking to see if your county or city has its own poet laureate. Athens, Cuyahoga and Lucas counties, for instance, all have artists representing them.

Look at where your favorite authors are being published

If you already know what kind of poetry or other literature you like, Seymour recommends looking at what journals or newspapers are highlighting their work.

For example, if you already know you love Kari Gunter Seymour’s work, you can look up where her poetry is being published and then dive into those journals. Seymour said they’re likely to carry other poets with similar styles.

And so you will find even more people there you love,” Seymour said.

Here’s some Ohio poets Kari Gunter Seymour recommends reading this year:

Kendall Crawford is a reporter for The Ohio Newsroom. She most recently worked as a reporter at Iowa Public Radio.