Monday, January 13, 2020

Scissortail 2020

Scissortail Creative Writing Festival 2020 Undergraduate Creative Writing Contest

Prizes: * 1st - $100  * 2nd - $75 *  3rd - $50
(Plus Books & Several Honorable Mentions)

  • Contest is open only to currently enrolled undergraduate students.
  • Eligible students are expected to attend the Festival. Recognition will occur Friday evening, April 3, 2020. (Please do not submit if you cannot attend the festival).
  • Submissions must be confirmed by a sponsoring faculty member.
  • Each institution is allowed a maximum of 5 (five entries); This includes ECU.
  • Submissions are limited to one of three categories: 1) one piece of short fiction (up to 7500 words), or one piece of creative nonfiction (up to 7500 words), or up to three poems (150 lines total).
  • Prizes will not be designated by genre, but will be awarded for best writing.
  • All entries must be the original work of the student.
  • All entries must be neatly typed; please double-space prose entries.
  • Entries will not be returned, so keep your originals.
  • No identifying marks should be on the manuscript itself, except for the title.
  • Provide separate Cover page with contact information: 1) Student’s Name; 2) Student’s email address AND mailing address 3) Faculty Member’s Name & Email address 3) Institution 4) Classification 5) Phone number 6) Title of original work submitted
  • Submit work by email to Dr. Jennifer Dorsey at In the subject line of your email submission, type “Scissortail Undergraduate Contest.”
  • Professor Dorsey will screen initial entries, then an outside judge will judge all entries that meet minimum guidelines.
DEADLINE: Email entries to  must be received by midnight March 1, 2020. There will be no exceptions. Recognition of writers will occur Friday April 3 as part of the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival held at East Central University (April 2-4, 2020). Please visit (and subscribe via email) to receive festival updates. Contact: Ken Hada, (580) 559-5557 for information regarding the Festival

Judge: Julie Chappell is an ecstatically retired Professor of early British literature and creative writing. She has read her creative works widely, including in venues in California, New Mexico, Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies and journals, such as Elegant Rage: A Poetic Tribute to Woody GuthrieThe Call of the Chupacabra; Malpa├»s ReviewVoices de la LunaDragon Poet ReviewRed River Review; Concho River ReviewStone Renga; and Speak Your Mind: Woody Guthrie Poets Celebrate Freedom of Speech 2019, Poems of Protest & Resistance. Her poetry was included in two podcasts in 2019—Ken Hada’s "Sunday Poems" and Jonas Zdanys’ "Open Windows" —for which she is profoundly humbled and grateful. Her two original poetry collections are Faultlines: One Woman’s Shifting Boundaries (Village Books Press, 2013) and Mad Habits of a Life (Lamar University Literary Press, 2019). Two more collections of poetry and a memoir are in progress. She resides in the woods of Lake Keystone in Oklahoma with her poet husband, Hank Jones, and their five cats, umpteen squirrels, raccoons, road runners, and wild birds.

Sponsors: The Undergraduate Writing Contest is sponsored by The East Central University Foundation, Inc, in partnership with THE RED EARTH MFA program from Oklahoma City University, directed by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish. Information:

Monday, October 21, 2019

Scissortail Submission Guidelines

15th Annual Scissortail Festival, April 2-4, 2020

Approximately 60 authors will be selected for the program. Selections (and rejections) are determined by members of the ECU English faculty. Selections to the program are accepted on the basis of:
  • Quality, Published Work (peer-reviewed journals, for example)
  • Freshness of Material (reading some new stuff)
  • Appropriateness for Time Restraints and Subject Matter
  • Meeting the Submission Deadline
Keeping with the spirit of the Scissortail Festival, readers on the program are expected to support other readers by attending multiple sessions.

Unaccepted submissions often do not reflect quality of writing – space, time and personnel limit our ability to accept as many as we would like. All applicants (those accepted and those not accepted for the program) are cordially invited to attend the festival to enjoy the benefits of interacting with fellow authors (the festival hotel rate is available for all guests of the festival).

Please review the following guidelines before submitting. To fit a very tight schedule, authors will have 15 minutes to present their material. Fiction and creative nonfiction writers are encouraged to excerpt their submission to fit into the time restraints (The appeal of a narrative may, in fact, be heightened by presenting a carefully selected excerpt, rather than speed-reading).

Guidelines: Please read closely and follow exactly. Please look at your calendar before submitting! Due to the increasing number of festival participants, it is very difficult to accommodate special scheduling requests. Please do not ask. Please understand that Ada, Oklahoma is a small town with very limited public transportation and has a limited number of hotel rooms. Ada is a two-hour drive from the Oklahoma City airport, three hours from DFW (in good traffic) and two and half hours from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Scissortail Festival is unable to provide shuttle service to and from these airports, so please consider these factors before submitting.

Also: Scissortail is a reading festival. No workshops, how-to, propaganda or pre-arranged panels are acceptable. Reading sessions feature a mixture of authors and genre.

Sessions usually consist of 3 or 4 readers per session. Authors should plan for 15 minutes total time at the mic (including prose) depending on how the session is scheduled. Please respect your audience and fellow readers by diligently adhering to time restraints.

Email submissions are preferred. Submit: 1) Complete contact information 2) The title of your program and the work to be considered – please consider the time restraints per reader 3) A paragraph-length biographical narrative summarizing publications and significant accomplishments (please write bios in 3rd person).

Deadline for submission is December 28, 2019. The schedule will be announced as early as possible, in January) and certainly by early February at the latest.

Send email submissions to: Identify “Scissortail Submission” in the subject line.

Please check your calendar before submitting. Participants are not charged registration fees; authors are not compensated. Check this site regularly for updates regarding the festival, and/or subscribe by providing your email at in order to receive notice of information regarding the festival and related events.

Hotel Arrangements

La Quinta is the official festival hotel for the 2020 festival.

Call and mention "Scissortail Festival"--the rate code is "SF-2020/ LDSF"--in order to get the festival rate for the 2020 Scissortail Festival.

$83 king $88 two queens + tax is available to authors and guests attending the festival (suites are higher price).

From the Management: “Thank you for staying with us every year. We do love serving your group. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.”

Ronnie Gandhi, GM
La Quinta Inn & Suites
2828 E. Arlington St.
Ada, OK 74820
(580) 436-5000 Hotel
(580) 436-5004 Fax

Monday, October 14, 2019

Annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival Set For April 2-4 at East Central University

ADA – The annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival returns to the ECU campus next spring to continue its successful run, marking its 15th year as one of the preeminent events of its kind in the nation. A trio of celebrated authors – Barbara Crooker, Lou Berney, and Octavio Quintanilla – anchors the 2020 installment of the festival, scheduled for April 2-4. The event is open and free to the public. Information and schedules will be available elsewhere on this website.

The Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, as always, features Oklahoma’s most prestigious high school creative writing competition, now in its 16th year. The annual Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest is open to all state high school students submitting poetry or short works of fiction. Details are available here.

Crooker, Berney, and Quintanilla will highlight the three-day festival, which attracts some of the best known and emerging writing talents from around the country.

For more information on the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival or questions about group attendance, contact organizer Dr. Ken Hada at 580-559-5557 or via email at
Following are bios on the three featured writers.

Barbara Crooker is a poetry editor for Italian-Americana, and author of nine full-length books of poetry, with Some Glad Morning coming out in the Pitt Poetry Series in 2019. Her awards include the WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships.

Crooker’s work has appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies, including The Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Chariton Poetry Review, Green Mountains Review, Tar River Poetry Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Hollins Critic, The Denver Quarterly, Smartish Pace, Gargoyle, Christianity and Literature, The American Poetry Journal, Dogwood, Zone 3, Passages North, Nimrod, Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, The Bedford Introduction to Literature, and Nasty Women: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse. Her work has also been read on ABC and the BBC, and featured in Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac” and in Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry”.

Lou Berney is the author of November Road (a Washington Post Best Book of 2018), The Long and Faraway Gone (winner of the Edgar, Anthony, Barry, Macavity, and ALA awards), Whiplash River, and Gutshot Straight, all from William Morrow.

Berney has also written a collection of stories, The Road to Bobby Joe, and his short fiction has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and The Pushcart Prize anthology. He currently teaches in the M.F.A. program at Oklahoma City University.

Octavio Quintanilla is the author of the poetry collection, If I Go Missing (Slough Press, 2014) and is the current Poet Laureate of San Antonio, Texas. His poetry, fiction, translations, and photography have appeared – or are forthcoming – in journals such as Salamander, RHINO, Alaska Quarterly Review, Pilgrimage, Green Mountains Review, Southwestern American Literature, The Texas Observer, Existere: A Journal of Art & Literature, and elsewhere.

Quintanilla’s visual work has been exhibited at Presa House Gallery; AllState Almaguer art space in Mission, Texas; the Weslaco Museum; Our Lady of the Lake University; El Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos; and at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center/Black Box Theater.

An exhibit of Quintanilla’s work is forthcoming at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas and is the regional editor for Texas Books in Review and poetry editor for The Journal of Latina Critical Feminism. Quintanilla teaches Literature and Creative Writing in the M.A./M.F.A. program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

16th Annual R. Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest

East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma presents
Oklahoma’s Most Prestigious High School Writing Competition

Prizes awarded at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, April 2-4, 2020 
Fiction: 1st Place $200; 2nd Place $150; 3rd Place $100
Poetry: 1st Place $200; 2nd Place $150; 3rd Place $ 100
20 Honorable Mention Awards of $25 each
* All Oklahoma high school students (9th - 12th grade) are eligible.  
* Poetry (up to 100 lines) or Short Fiction (up to 6,000 words) is acceptable.  
* Limit 5 poems and 1 short fiction piece per student.  
* All entries must be the original work of the student.  
* All entries must be neatly typed; please double-space fiction entries.  
* Entries will not be returned, so keep your originals.  
* No identifying marks should be on the manuscript itself, except for the title.  
* Provide cover page with contact information: 1) Student’s name; 2) Teacher’s name  
   3) School 4) Classification (senior, junior, etc.) 5) Phone number, Email and mailing address.  
* Work may be submitted through conventional mail or email. 

DEADLINE: Conventional mail must be postmarked on or before Friday, January 31, 2020. Email entries must be sent by 11:59 p.m. on January 31, 2020. There will be no exceptions. Winners will be notified in early March, and awards will be presented Saturday, April 4 in the Cole University Center (Estep Auditorium), on the East Central University campus.  A list of winners and winning entries may be posted online at  Please visit this site for festival and contest history and information.  Previous award-winning Fisher contest entries are also available .        

Poetry Submissions: send work electronically as attached files to or mail to Dr. Joshua Grasso, East Central University, Dept. of English & Languages, 1100 E. 14th St., Ada, OK 74820  
Fiction Submissions: send work electronically as attached files to or mail to Dr. Mark Walling, East Central University, Dept. of English and Languages, 1100 E. 14th St., Ada, OK 74820 
Contest Information: Dr. Joshua Grasso (580-235-3197); Dr. Mark Walling (580-559-5440).  Scissortail Creative Writing Festival Information: Dr. Ken Hada (580-559-5557) 

Thursday, March 21, 2019