Thursday, April 3, 2014

Scissortail 2014: It's On!

As of 9:30 this morning, the Ninth Annual the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival is under way. If you are attending the Festival and have heard something you like, please leave a comment here so that the authors and everyone else can know what you think. Just click on the comment button below to leave a comment and read the comments left by others. And if you're not attending the Festival, come on over!


  1. I attended the festival on Thursday, and I enjoyed the readings. I particularly liked the poems by Ron Wallace. I really like his style.

  2. I attended this festival on Thursday, and enjoyed the readings as well. My favorite was a poem by Ron Wallace, 2am train this poem reminded me of my father I enjoyed it very much.

  3. I was fortunate enough attend three different sessions this year. While I did enjoy all of them, my favorite was session number two which featured J.C. Mahan, Elizabeth Raby, and Alan Berecka. All three of these writers were so passionate and enthusiastic that they were fun to watch as well as inspiring to listen to.

    Mahan had this amazing stage presence. It was difficult to look away. He demanded the crowd's attention. His poetry was also a simpler, easier to follow style, while still being intelligent and insightful. His poem "big a tree" was a creative play on words for "bigotry". I definitely think that one was my favorite of his work.

    Raby's account of her college experience was relatable. While ECU is clearly not so strict, a good deal of her audience was college students and able to find something in there that was relatable. I personally enjoyed listening to her account and comparing college life then to what it is now. They were threatened to be kicked out of their school for drinking and premarital sex back then, whereas it has now, unfortunately, been almost glorified. Seeing the difference was truly fascinating.

    Berecka was humorous and sarcastic. I loved that. I also loved how he was able to poke fun at his own religion, which is a touchy subject for quite a few people. I loved that so many of his poems were from personal experience, which made them more personal for him to read. These have a greater effect on the readings than a lot of people suspect. The one I found the most enjoyable was his account of making a joke about communion to his sister and getting hit by his mother for it, and the way that, later in life, he flinched out of reflex after making a similar joke to his wife. I can see that happening. It makes it realistic, and I certainly love realistic poetry.

  4. Like Sarah, my favorite session was also the 11:00am session on Thursday featuring J.C. Mahan, Elizabeth Raby, and Alan Berecka. I was impressed by all three authors as they each seemed to bring something new to the Festival. I sincerely enjoyed listening to each as their readings made me think of different ways in which my own writing can improve and possible new stylistic directions.

    I'm sure that everyone agrees that Catfish has AMAZING stage presence as Sarah mentioned! As soon as he was given reign of the floor I was entranced with his tone of voice, distinction of characters, and overall enthusiasm for his work. What I found most inspiring in his work was the way he breathed life into his pages by using every aspect of his voice to enhance the simple yet eloquent words. I enjoyed Mahan's original ideas and inclusion of allusions in his poems.

    Raby's reading stirred in me a longing to write more narrative works into my own portfolio. Every scene she described took me to a distinct location and time period. I could feel the tension she described as well as the sarcastic words she used pinching my skin like a playful friend. The contrast of Raby to Mahan reminded me that variety keeps things interesting, and the short poems I write are in no way inferior to the longer verses of my colleagues.

    For some time, I have been hearing about the wonderfully well-written and spoken and oh so real Alan Berecka. I was so excited about hearing Berecka read that when the time finally came, I almost couldn't contain my excitement. How could he possibly live up the legend in my mind and to the other two amazing writers who read directly before him. Of course, he came through! And I was thrilled with every word he read. I enjoyed the unfiltered thoughts he expressed as well as the all too real confusion we have all experienced at one time or another as writers and readers alike. I especially loved the "paper asshole" lines as I find humor and truth in the phrase.

    I can't believe that it will be another year before all of these great readers, writers, and thinkers will be gathered on the campus of East Central University once again! I can honestly say that all of the contributors have given me more than enough to think about for the next year though. Thank you for all of your hard work and contributions!

    1. Many thanks to Sarah, Emily, and Tori for their kind words about my work, and to all the folks who took the time to give my fellow poets and writers such generous feedback. Every session I went to was first rate. It's always a blast to read at Scissortail. The large number of students in the audience makes the event come alive, and the writers there are a nurturing and positive bunch. I wish that wasn't such a rare situation at conferences, but it's another reason that ECU's writing shindig stands out. While I'm at it many thanks to Ken, Eril, and the rest of the ECU family that puts on the best conference going. It's also brings me great satisfaction to know that for once in my life I met a woman's (Emily's) expectations. Go figure! Here's hoping I see ya'll next year. --Alan Berecka

  5. This year’s Scissortail Creative Creative Writing Festival was the first writing event I've attended at ECU. I was really impressed with the level of effort that went into booking and organizing all of the wonderful writers that we were able to listen to throughout the festival. The amount work it must have taken to organize must have been tremendous.

    I was able to attend both the 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. Estep sessions on Friday. George McCormick, Carol Coffee Reposa, and Carolyne Wright were all very inspiring to listen to and all seemed very passionate about their craft. Wright’s love for theatrics really made my day!

    Although I thought they were all brilliant, I would have to say that McCormick’s reading inspired me the most. He was able to make me interested in subjects I would have never thought to be interested in, and did it in a way that was entertaining and attention grabbing. He made is relatively ordinary characters into heroes through his language and storytelling technique, something I hope to be able to accomplish in my own writing one day.

    I also attended the Page One gallery showing at the Ada Arts and Heritage Foundation and the open mic that took place afterwards. It was nice to be able to see the works of others--ECU, Cameron, and OBU students--and to have an opportunity to display my own work. The open mic was also quite good--Catfish has a way of grabbing you and pulling you into his performances.

  6. The first session I went to, and my favorite of the entire festival, was the 11:00 session on Thursday where J.C. “Catfish” Mahan, Elizabeth Raby, and Alan Berecka. I had never heard any slam poetry before and it was so awesome! Catfish’s poetry was so vivacious and lively; the entire crowd was laughing having a great time with him. Alan Berecka was also very funny with his poetry, my favorite of his poems was about Jesus as a little kid and Mary yelling “Jesus H. Christ!” when he was in trouble. I loved how the entire crowd was totally into the reader’s poetry and everyone was laughing together. Elizabeth Raby was the other reader of that session, and she was my absolute favorite. She read a chapter from her book Ransomed Voices, which I purchased happily after that session. I got the pleasure of getting to meet with her the next day and she was an absolute delight to talk with! I told her that I wrote poetry and she brought me a book of her poetry and signed if for me, she was so awesome to talk with and she had a very positive outlook on things. She told me she and the other authors love coming to the scissortail festival every year, and I definitely agreed with her, it was a joy to attend sessions and meet authors!
    -Tori Watson

  7. I attended the grand finale! It was heart warming to see all the young students interested in writing poetry and fiction! I was so impressed by the glimpses Grasso gave into the student's writings. Walling gave a short inspirational speech about sticking it to the man and replacing common core with actual skillful writing. I threw my fist of change into the air. Nathan Brown was the final speaker. I had seen him speak Wednesday at OCTE so I was hooked. He is my Man Crush Monday forever. His attitude is amazing. His voice and style are even better now that I've actually heard him read his poetry. I was blown away when I read he would be attending again! This festival is obviously as important to him as it is to us. I was thankful to be able to see him speak again!

  8. I have to say my favorite session was a nightcap, where Jonas Zdanys read some of his poetry. I have never been to a poetry reading before, so it was REALLY odd for me at first hearing, but as Zdanys read through more of his work, I began to understand the depth and beauty that can come from a poem that is read aloud. His work was simple, yet elegant, and I was astonished with his ease in sharing his knowledge of Lithuanian. I am not well-educated in some of the finer literary arts, but even to the simplest mind his work would be impressive. I enjoyed his humorous and serious interludes, and when the work was done, I was left wanting even more. His session sent me home happy! I thought this festival was tremendously exciting from start to finish, and I was glad to experience even a small part of it.

  9. We have to encourage these sort of festivals to promote writing activities in students and people those are connected with this in any way. Thanks for full coverage of this event.