Thursday, March 7, 2013

From the Director: Welcoming “Strange Angels”

It’s nearly time for the 2013 edition of the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival. On behalf of ECU faculty, administration and students, I welcome you once again to a fascinating dance of words and personalities floating around an otherwise indifferent atmosphere. Perhaps the best thing about Scissortail is that those who attend want to be in attendance, and those who work the festival want to work it. My hope is that you will once again experience jouissance as we listen to each other read. How simple! To listen! To listen to reading of creative works. That is the essence of Scissortail.

This year we welcome 21 new voices to the program in addition to many returners and to those participating in the “Page One Literary Art Gallery.” So we anticipate the embodied spirit of creativity to fill us. The festival celebrates famous and not-yet-heard-of writers of many different styles, standing alongside one another remembering the joyful power that creativity makes possible. Let us set our stained egos aside and jump headfirst into the stream, joining fellow writers and members of the audience.

I’ve been enjoying Gregory Orr’s book, Poetry as Survival.  In one of his chapters, Orr alludes to a D.H. Lawrence poem, reflecting on the last five lines:  “What is the knocking? / What is the knocking at the door in the night? / It is somebody wants to do us harm. / No, no, it is the three strange angels. / Admit them, admit them.” I won’t repeat or paraphrase Orr’s smart reflection, but I think any of us who attempt the séance of language know something of the paradox of welcoming that which, at first, may be unfamiliar or even frightening. Writers know that this happens in solitude much of the time, but perhaps for three days in April we all gather and together, openly “admit them.”

See you soon!

Ken Hada


  1. The event was professional and well done. The first speaker during the 2:00-3:30 session on Thursday was very interesting. Her poems on travel really hit a note with me. My favorite poem was "The Train to Gainesville." It made me feel like I was actually on the train. She talked about the train cars jolting, and I really felt the motion. The second speaker's story was my favorite. I could relate with her story about renovating her house and the problems she had with the pool. When I was younger, my family and I had to totally reconstruct our pool. We worked breaking up concrete, repairing pipes and plumbing, and completing reconstruction. We finally all agreed that we needed to call an expert, so we called a professional at the pool store. We called several before finding just the right one, but we finally completed it after much frustration. The last speaker's story about the cranes made me feel uneasy. He related his feelings in the story to Alfred Hitchcock's film "The Birds." I now have a new fear of birds. He did a very good job of describing the birds in vivid detail. I had a clear mental vision from the description provided. It felt like I became a part of the story. The entire festival was very well done, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. The event was very well organized. I cannot say that I have a favorite poem or speaker. I attended the 9:00 and 10:00 sessions on April 5. The authors (Susan Gardner, Ron Wallace, Terri Tucker, and Nathan Brown), that I heard, each brought something different to their audiences. It may sound odd, but one of the most important things that I took away with me from this Festival was something that Susan Gardner had said to me when the 9:00 session had ended, "True poetry consists of moments that are experienced. Without experience, something is missing." I believe that the reason I enjoyed each author, I heard, was because it felt as if they weren't "inventing" experiences to share with their audiences, instead they were "sharing" experiences that they lived. Although it was impressive how each author was able to manipulate the usage of landscape within their poems, I found their narrative voices to be the main thing that held me spell-bound.

    I will admit that Susan Gardner threw me off when she claimed that she lacked an "emapthetic voice," because I felt that her poems possessed a very empathetic quality. In her poem, "Memory's Shape", Gardner utilizes the phrase "Brothers will never remember her face;" I believe that the depth of Gardner's voice is unbelievable, for she is able to not only capture the true emotions felt by her readers, but her words create a bond that I can relate to on a personal level.

    Ron Wallace's poems were very baseball orientated, but as a fellow Oklahoman (and a small-town girl), I can easily relate to the love that exists between men and sports. Although my family tended to gravitate to football opposed to baseball, the love felt for a sport is sacred and he does a very good job capturing that aspect. The way that Wallace entwines sports as a means to relay the more deeper messages that tend to remain silent within families (such as the moment when a parent realizes their role in their child's life has evolved) is honest. If Wallace had embellished that moment, he would have lost me as a reader, but he kept his choice of wording honest and that enabled me to better appreciate his poetry.

    Terri Tucker was able to touch a very special nerve within me (and I mean this in a good way!!). I, absolutely, loved the inclusion of the "Aunt Maggie stories" within her poem. My father was raised by his grandparents after his father was MIA in the Korean War. In many ways, his stories of our different grandparents were very vivid - those stories are what helped me chose my majors. Not to mention, I related Tucker's description of Aunt Maggie's accomplishments to one of my great-grandfathers, who was responsible for helping to develop the town where he resided. (He was one of four investors that helped to establish the first shopping mall and even had an Elementary School named after him.)

    Nathan Brown, I related with his poems on a totally different level. His poem, "What Good Am I", that he wrote for his daughter, was so realistic that it made me recall moments with BOTH of my daughters. I absolutely loved it when he tried to relay one of his poems in a single breath. His usage of humor captured my attention and brought to mind my own experiences as a parent.