OHIO — On this Labor Day weekend, some of the state’s most respected Appalachian artists celebrated the hardworking people who left their mountain region to work in Ohio’s cities and the rich culture they brought with them.  

What You Need To Know

  • Appalachian Flow featured musicians, poets, writers and visual artists

  • The Carnegie Center of Columbia Tusculum hosted the event

  • Artist, musician and professor Sherry Cook Stanforth organized and hosted the event

  • Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour shared her work

​They’re calling it Appalachian Flow, a reference to the Ohio River and its tributaries.

The Urban Appalachian Community Coalition collaborated with writer and singer Sherry Cook Stanforth, who organized the program.

“I had this dream of bringing rising, powerful, young voices, visual artists, singer musicians, and writers together with people who are practicing their work as teaching artists in all genres including our Ohio poet Laureate and some of the most amazing musicians and writers of our city,” Cook Stanforth said.

She is also the English professor emeritus at Thomas More University, where she first worked with some of the event’s writers and performers such as artist Michael Thompson and writer Rose Gibson, who is currently a Place Keepers apprentice writer.

“It’s an honor to be part of an event with this many awesome people,” Gibson said.

Cook Stanforth has worked with Gibson on sharing her story of overcoming a challenging childhood.

“I had a very tumultuous childhood very rough upbringing lots of abuse and stuff like that,” Gibson said. “Writing has been my number-one coping skill.”

For Gibson and some others at the showcase, creating and sharing becomes a matter of life and death.

“I don’t know if I would have made it through certain times of my life if I hadn’t been able to write and share and express what was going on in my head in that way.”

Cook Stanforth said resilience is part of the DNA of Appalachians.

“Those folks stuck it out during hard times and I think a lot of that has been passed on powerfully into the fabric of our city.”

Survivors such as Gibson are thriving and inspiring.

“It’s just such an honor and it makes me feel like this is the right path that I’m on and that I can take writing to new places in my life,” Gibson said.

She and the other contributors are taking the audience on a journey of discovery and a celebration of all things Appalachian here in Ohio.