Friday, January 24, 2020

Scissortail 2020

The Scissortail Creative Writing Festival at East Central University

Since 2005, East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma has hosted the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival on the first weekend in April.

The three-day festival typically hosts feature presentations from more than 50 regional, published and emerging authors.

Over the years, at least 12 state poet laureates, 3 national poet laureates, at least 10 National Book Award winners/runnersup from various organizations, at least 6 National Western Heritage Award winners, and at least two Pulitzer prize winners have presented at the Festival.

The Scissortail Creative Writing Festival also features Oklahoma’s most prestigious high school creative writing competition. The annual Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest, which began in 2004, is open to all state high school students submitting poetry or short works of fiction.

All sessions are free and open to the public.

For more information about some of our previous festivals, click on these links: 2019, 20182017201620152014201320122011.

2020: Schedule of Readings

15th AnnualScissortail Creative Writing Festival
April 2-4, 2020
East Central University
Ada, Oklahoma

Thursday, April 2

I. 9:30 – 10: 45 Estep Auditorium 

Rebecca Hatcher Travis: Sulphur, Oklahoma
Through My Eyes
Chris Murphy: Northeastern State University
and the creek: flash fiction
Ann Howells: Carrollton, Texas
So Longs As We Speak Their Names
Cullen Whisenhunt: SEOSU
Bent Branches

2020 Scissortail Biographies

Jeffrey Alfier’s most recent book is Gone This Long: Southern Poems (Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2019). The Shadow Field, a collection of fresh poems set overseas, is forthcoming from Louisiana Literature Press (January, 2020). The Wolf Yearling, (Silver Birch, 2013), Idyll for a Vanishing River (Glass Lyre, 2013), and Fugue for a Desert Mountain (Flutter Press, 2017) are collections of poems set in the American Southwest. In 2016, Cowboy Buddha Publishing published Anthem for Pacific Avenue, a collection of California poems, and Aldrich Press came out with The Red Stag at Carrbridge: Scotland Poems. His journal publication credits include The Carolina Quarterly, Chiron Review, Copper Nickel, Midwest Quarterly, Permafrost, Red Earth Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Texas Review. He is founder and co-editor of Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review.

Dorothy Alexander is a poet, memoirist, storyteller, author of four poetry collections, two multi-genre memoirs, and two volumes of oral history. Her work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Malpais Review; Sugar Mule Literary Review; Blood & Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine; Oklahoma Humanities Journal; Missing Persons, (Beatlick Press of Albuquerque); Weaving the Terrain (Dos Gatos Press of ABQ). She curated poetry readings at the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Oklahoma for 15 years, and is a recipient of the Carlile Award for Distinguished Service to the Oklahoma literary community. She currently curates a monthly poetry reading at the Santa Fe Convention Center under the auspices of the City of Santa Fe NM and its Bureau of Tourism and is co-owner with Devey Napier of Village Books Press, Cheyenne OK, and Santa Fe NM. In another life, Dorothy was a lawyer and municipal judge for 45 years.

Rilla Askew is the author of four novels, a book of stories, and a collection of creative nonfiction, Most American: Notes from a Wounded Place. She’s a PEN/Faulkner finalist, recipient of the Western Heritage Award, Oklahoma Book Award, and a 2009 Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Askew’s essays, poems, and short fiction have appeared in Tin HouseFish Drum, Nimrod, AGNI, Green Country: Writing from Northeastern Oklahoma, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at the University of Oklahoma.

Monday, January 13, 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:

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Darryl Fisher High School Creative Writing Contest Winners

Prizes for Oklahoma’s most prestigious high school writing competition are awarded in April at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival.

Here are links to some posts announcing winners from previous years: 2019201820172016201520142013201220112010.

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.