Thursday, October 25, 2018

Scissortail 2019: The Poster

2019 Scissortail Creative Writing Festival set for April 4-6

ADA – Tracy K. Smith, United States Poet Laureate for 2017-2019, and Brandon Hobson, author and one of five finalists for the 2018 National Book Award, will be the featured speakers for East Central University’s 2019 Scissortail Creative Writing Festival set for April 4-6, 2019.

There will be more than 50 speakers at the three-day event.

For more information on the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, or questions about group attendance, contact Dr. Ken Hada at 580-559-5557 or at Detailed information is also available on this website..

Smith, who will be speaking on the first day of the event on April 4, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and was a National Book Award Finalist for Memoir. In 2017, she was appointed the 22nd United States Poet Laureate.

Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Nonfiction and was selected as a Notable Book by the New York Times and Washington Post, as well as three books of poetry.

Her most recent collection of poems, Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011), won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. The collection draws on sources as disparate as Arthur C. Clarke and David Bowie and is part of the elegiac tribute to her late father, an engineer who worked on the Hubble Telescope.

Duende (2007) won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question (2003) was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005.

In 2014, the Academy of American Poets awarded Smith with the Academy Fellowship, awarded to one poet each year to recognize distinguished poetic achievement. In 2016, she won the 16th Annual Robert Creeley Award. Her most recent collection, Wade in the Water (Graywolf, 2018), boldly ties America’s contemporary moment both to the nation’s fraught founding history and a sense of the spirit, the everlasting.

Her memoir, Ordinary Light, “begins with a harrowing scene at the deathbed of Smith’s mother, who died in 19994,” writes Craig Morgan Teicher. “From there it circles back to Smith’s early childhood, tracing her growth not just as a writer, but as someone who must learn the hard lessons of puberty and early adulthood, as well as what it means to be a black woman growing up in suburban California. Her discovery of poetry is part of this, but the most remarkable moments of the book are the ones in which Smith deals with ordinary trials, which she treats with rare insight and heart.

Booklist calls Ordinary Light “a gracefully nuanced yet strikingly candid memoir about family, faith, race and literature” and praises Smith for her ability to “hold our intellectual and emotional attention ever so tightly as she charts her evolving thoughts on the divides between races, generations, economic classes, religion and science and celebrates her lifesaving discovery of poetry as ‘soul language.’” BBC’s Between the Lines, says simply, “Ordinary Light is a lament, an homage, a discovery, a blessing.”

A resident of Princeton, New Jersey, Smith did her undergraduate work at Harvard before earning her M.F.A. at Columbia University before going on to be a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University from 1997-99. She is the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in Humanities and director of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University.

Hobson is the author of Where The Dead Sit Talking, which was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award. Where the Dead Sit Talking, according to one reviewer, “takes us to a strange, dangerous place normally kept hidden. From the opening hook, with the unhurried authority of a master, Brandon Hobson initiates the reader into the secret lives of lost and unwanted teenagers trying to survive in an uncaring world. Creepy, sad, yet queerly thrilling.”

Reader’s Digest asserts: “Hobson has a remarkable ability to travel deep into a very dark place and come out plausibly on the side of light.”

Hobson is also the author of the books Deep Ellum and Desolation of Avenues Untold.

He has won a Pushcart Prize and his stories and essays have appeared in such places as The Believer, Conjunctions, NOON, The Paris Review Daily, Publisher’s Weekly and elsewhere. Hobson teaches at Northern Oklahoma College and is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation Tribe of Oklahoma.

Scissortail Submission Guidelines

14th Annual Scissortail Festival, April 4-6, 2019

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.

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 30, 2018. 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, nor are authors compensated. Please subscribe by providing your email at in order to receive notice of information regarding the festival and related events. Updates are posted at that site.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The 15th Annual R. Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest

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

Prizes awarded at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, April 4-6, 2019

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, February 1, 2019 Email entries must be sent by 11:59 p.m. on February 1, 2019. There will be no exceptions. Winners will be notified in early March, and awards will be presented Saturday, April 6 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, April 5, 2018

It's On!

As of 9:30 this morning, the Thirteenth Annual the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival is under way.

If you're not here yet, come soon!

We'll be here through Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

From the Director, 2018

Welcome to Scissortail 2018!! This year 57 authors have been selected to present their work; 15 of these are new voices to the festival. On behalf of ECU English Faculty, our Sponsors and Donors and many other volunteers, I welcome you to our 13th annual festival. We are happy to host you.

I recently ran across a quote from Guillermo del Toro, referring to his Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water: “To me, it’s not a matter of how many people like it, but how deep people like it.” I think this perfectly expresses the attitude of an artist, and I think it could not be more appropriate for our Scissortail authors. Working authors know the highs and lows of presenting their material around the country, but for all of them, the fact that some deeply like their work, is the highest praise, and the purest reason to write. Few things in life are as magical as the connection made between an author and an audience. And so, in this spirit, once again, we gather to share the creativity that shapes so many of us. I am often asked why ECU puts on this festival, and one of my answers usually goes something like this: “This is what universities are supposed to do.” It’s festival time! Welcome. I hope you are inspired.

Ken Hada

Monday, March 12, 2018