On behalf of our sponsors and the many volunteers who help make the 11th annual Scissortail Festival possible, I welcome you to East Central University and to Ada, Oklahoma. This year we welcome 18 new voices to the program. One of my great delights is to see writers from across the country meet each other and become friends, fellow voices continuing the call for common sense and courageous virtue through the media of fiction and poetry. We also will award 8 collegiate writers from Texas and Oklahoma at the after party on Friday night. Hope you can attend. As usual, on Saturday we will award 26 high school students from over 600 entries from across the state. We salute all the teachers who make this happen!
Some things are changing at ECU. Two of the most enthusiastic supporters of the Scissortail Festival are moving on to other places. Phyllis Danley, Executive Director of the ECU Foundation, and Dr. Mark Hollingsworth, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, are leaving ECU. All of us associated with the Department of English and the festival offer a great big thank you to both of you for your wonderful support of the festival! You both will be missed.
There is much trouble in our world today. You hear, as I do, about the bombing in Belgium. And we hear about the subtle, and not-so-subtle attacks on our public school systems across the nation, the aggressive assault on general education, budget cutbacks and other misgivings about our relationship with each other in our democracy. Now, more than ever, I think we need the voices of artists reminding us to be, first of all, human, first of all, humane. I look forward to meeting each of you, hearing your presentations. I hope the artists and all the visitors have a truly fulfilling experience these three days.
I leave you with the lovely, haunting words of Jonas Zdanys, part of his poem “The White Bend of the River” from his book The Thin Light of Winter:
Time drifts past.
Only stones desire nothing.
The air is filled
with the sound of birds
murmuring of love
See you soon!