Monday, March 31, 2014

Welcome: From the Director – 2014

Ben Myers and Ken Hada (April 3, 2014)
On behalf of so many gracious volunteers, students and staff at ECU, I gladly welcome you to the 9th Annual Scissortail Festival. This year, eleven authors new to the festival join those who have returned. To all of you, and to the many audience members who celebrate creativity with us, I hope the festival is an inspiring experience. We have limitations of facilities and resources, but what we do have, we celebrate – and that is the love of the story, the need to tell and even more, the need to listen. We do it for applause, and we do it to applaud each other. During our longer and colder than usual winter just passed, I enjoyed rereading many of the authors who are on the program this year. I think this is an important exercise – to re-read the books on our shelves, to rendezvous with those who are writing those books, and to affirm the capacity to know and participate in creation.

The last line in B.H. Fairchild’s poem To My Friend captivates me: “the small darknesses we never see.” Something about this phrase sings poetry. It haunts those realities we feel, the fears and failures we sense, the joy we want to believe in. It points to the incalculable value of the creative arts. For us, authors and audience, these three days together may offer us the chance to see something that often eludes us. Together, we can at least look for it – whatever the “it” is for you at this time. Part of “it” for me is the recent loss of my favorite Uncle Max, who was one of the last links to my Hungarian ancestry, raised by my Great Grandparents Gustava and Julia, the family historian, the storyteller who knew well and paid attention to those from the “Old Country.” The last stanza of a tribute poem I wrote about Uncle Max may speak to what Fairchild imagines, and hopefully it includes you and your participation in this wonderful but all-too-short experience we live together:

See the surf – the waves beat
Against the shore but look out, look away
From this harsh moment and see
How the bay settles
Into endless beauty the way prairie grass
Flows forever in the wind
That calls us home
So I invite you to take part in as much as you can, make a friend, offer a ride, listen with good ears, laugh and love, even as we think about loss. To those who feel my use of nature is too sentimental, I leave you with one of my recent rough drafts, after thinking about Fairchild’s line and other matters, peace J

Three Days in April

Like a junkie
I keep coming back
Scissortail – I bet I’ve said or typed that word
A couple thousand times just this year alone –
It is the bird that makes me scratch
I cannot help myself
On my knees before you muttering
Hair messed up, unshaven, sleepless
All this for a fix
All my days, all my nights
Amount to nothing more than running scared
Afraid the last ecstasy will be the last
Worried sick that when I come down
Next time won’t bring me back up

Until it returns – gets me off, I float
In the freedom of language, the overdose
Of image and sound – Word.

For three days in April my itch is salved
Tripping far away and I am high
Where no bird could fly

Ken Hada

April 2014

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