Spoken & Heard is a seasonal series of literary events hosted by Kari Gunter-Seymour, Poet Laureate of Ohio, featuring award-winning authors, poets and singer/songwriters from across the country.


Thursday, March 23rd at 7 pm


George Bilgere

George Bilgere’s work has been called “a welcome breath of fresh, contemporary air in the house of American poetry” by Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. Bilgere has read his poems at the Library of Congress, the 92nd Street Y in New York, the Chautauqua Institute, and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. NPR listeners know him from his many appearances on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac and A Prairie Home Companion. He has received grants and awards from the Pushcart Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright Foundation. He is a recipient of the May Swenson Poetry Award, the Society of Midland Authors Poetry Prize, the Ohioana Poetry Award, the Cleveland Arts Prize, and a Witter Bynner Fellowship through the Library of Congress. His eighth collection of poetry, Central Air, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in March, 2022. He teaches at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he lives with his wife and two exceptionally fine little boys.

Central Air

Michael Simms

Michael Simms, who identifies as a person with autism, is the founder of Vox Populi, an online forum for poetry, politics and nature, as well as Autumn House Press, a nonprofit publisher of books. He’s the author of three full-length collections of poetry including American Ash and Nightjar (Ragged Sky, 2020, 2021), the co-editor of a college textbook about poetry — and the lead editor of over 100 published books, including the best-selling Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, now in its third edition. In 2011, the Pennsylvania Legislature awarded Simms a certificate of recognition for his contribution to the arts. He is also an environmental activist, having twice addressed the Allegheny County Council on the issue of fracking in public parks. His novels Bicycles of the Gods: A Divine Comedy and The Green Mage are now available from Madville Publishing.

Bicycles of the Gods: A Divine Comedy

The Green Mage

Lynette (Lyn) Ford

Lyn Ford shares the gifts and heritage of the spoken word from her Affrilachian family. Lyn’s national and international festival programs and workshops encourage folks to speak personal truths and hopeful possibilities through folktales and original stories. Her work has taken her to Ireland, Australia, and around the Zoomiverse. She is a recipient of two National Storytelling Network’s Oracle Awards, and a member of the National Association of Black Storytellers Circle of Elders and the National Writing Project’s Writers Council. Her latest book (with friend and fellow teller Sherry Norfolk) is Supporting Diversity and Inclusion with Story.

Supporting Diversity and Inclusion with Story


Thursday, April 20th at 7 pm


James Crews

James Crews is the editor of the best-selling anthology, How to Love the World, which has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, as well as in The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post. He is the author of four prize-winning collections of poetry: The Book of What Stays, Telling My Father, Bluebird, and Every Waking Moment, and his poems have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Ploughshares, The New Republic, and Prairie Schooner. Crews teaches in the Poetry of Resilience seminars, which he co-founded with Danusha Laméris, and lives with his husband in Shaftsbury, Vermont. To sign up for weekly poems and prompts, visit jamescrews.net.

How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope

The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy

Orchid Tierney

Orchid Tierney is a poet and scholar from Aotearoa New Zealand, who now lives in Gambier, Ohio. She is the author of the collection a year of misreading the wildcats (The Operating System, 2019) and seven chapbooks: looking at the tiny: Mad lichen on the surfaces of reading (Essay Press, forthcoming), my beatrice (above/ground press, 2020), ocean plastic (BlazeVOX Books, 2019), Gallipoli Diaries (Gauss PDF, 2016), blue doors (Belladonna Press, 2018) brachiation (Gumtree, 2012), the world in small parts (Dancing Girl, 2012). Her scholarship, reviews, and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Jacket2, Venti, Fractured Ecologies, Substance, the Cambridge Companion to American Poetry and Politics since 1900, among others. She is the recipient of the Ohio Arts Council Y22 Individual Artist Excellence Award and is the Black Earth Institute Fellow for 2022–25. She is an assistant professor of English at Kenyon College. www.orchidtierney.com

Orchid Tierny Books

Yalie Saweda Kamara

Yalie Saweda Kamara is a Sierra Leonean-American writer, educator, and researcher from Oakland, California. Selected as the 2022-2023 Cincinnati and Mercantile Library Poet Laureate (2-year term), she is the editor of the anthology What You Need to Know About Me: Young Writers on Their Experience of Immigration (The Hawkins Project, 2022) and the author of A Brief Biography of My Name (African Poetry Book Fund/Akashic Books, 2018) and When the Living Sing (Ledge Mule Press, 2017). Kamara has been a finalist for the National Poetry Series competition and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize. She earned a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and English Literature from the University of Cincinnati, an MFA in Creative Writing from Indiana University, Bloomington and an MA in French Culture and Civilization from Middlebury College. For more: www.yaylala.com

What You Need to Know About Me: Youth Experiences on Immigration

A Brief Biography of My Name

When The Living Sing

Thursday, May 18 at 7 pm


Hanif Abdurraqib

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry. It was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio and was named a book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune, among others. He released Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest with University of Texas press in February 2019. The book became a New York Times Bestseller, was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, and was longlisted for the National Book Award. His second collection of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster, was released in 2019 by Tin House, and won the 2020 Lenore Marshall Prize. In 2021, he released the book A Little Devil In America with Random House, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the The PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. The book won the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction and the Gordon Burn Prize. Hanif is a graduate of Beechcroft High School.

Hanif Abdurraqib books

Wondra Chang

Wondra Chang is the National Book Award nominated author of Sonju, her debut novel, which is listed in the 100 Best Indie Books of 2021 by Kirkus Reviews. Wondra was extensively featured in San Antonio Express News and San Antonio Report. She was a featured author of 2021 San Antonio Book Festival and the June 2021 featured author of The Big Texas Read. Born in South Korea, Wondra has lived in the U.S. since 1970. Her writing discipline began at age ten, writing five short stories a day under the tutelage of a writing teacher. She won first place in a province-wide in-person writing competition, and her short story was published in Daejon Ilbo, the daily newspaper of Chungnam Province. She studied journalism at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, Bernard Rauch.


Chuck Salmons

Chuck Salmons is a native of Columbus, Ohio, a poet and past President of the Ohio Poetry Association. His poems have appeared in several journals and anthologies, including Evening Street Review; The Ekphrastic Review; The Fib Review; Shot Glass Journal; Everything Stops and I Thought I Heard a Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices. His chapbook, Stargazer Suite, was released in December 2016 and is available from 11th Hour Press. His second chapbook, Patch Job, was published by NightBallet Press . His poetry has been exhibited artistically in several places, including three features for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources “Art in the Lobby” program and in the 2021 After Hours exhibition at the Riffe Gallery in Columbus. He is a recipient of an Ohio Arts Council‘s Individual Excellence Award.

Patch Job