Friday, March 27, 2015

From the Director: 2015

On behalf of the administration, faculty, staff and students of ECU, I welcome you, artists and guests, to the 10th annual Scissortail Festival. We are honored that you have chosen to spend time with us in Ada, Oklahoma. This year we welcome 15 new voices to the Scissortail Program. Every year we look forward to the quality presentations, so inspiring, so provocative. This year will be no different, I’m sure.

Though it sounds contrived, I saw my first Scissortail of this spring Thursday afternoon as I was driving to McAlester for a library discussion on Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. A cold front with hail and high winds had passed through the night before, so I was surprised and delighted to see this harbinger among us already. Of course, I take that as a good omen for all of you traveling to Ada for this annual spring ritual.

As much as we need the Scissortails, and all other life forms of Nature, we also need the creativity expressed in the literature that our authors annually provide us. The library discussion of Coriolanus led to the consideration of the tension between individual liberty and social well-being, between pride and duty, how humanity was never intended to be only a raging war machine – as Shakespeare’s marred, single-minded hero becomes. One of the lessons of the play suggests that our physical nature needs to be balanced with a reflective, social nature – and that liberal democracy functions best in response to a collection of honest, balanced, reflective citizens. Duty to the common good may occur in many ways.

Though most of us are not as bluntly obsessed with warfare and physical arrogance as Shakespeare’s protagonist is, there are many sources that contend for our attention, that pull us awkwardly out of balance, that keep us from the necessary functions of reflection and inspiration. One of the best things about our annual Scissortail ritual is that we have the opportunity to engage one another with various creative voices, offering a variety of approaches to this human experience of living respectfully among each other. Comedy, tragedy, and every approach between will be on display, and the collective result is something we know we must value.

Ben Myers recently pointed me to this Flannery O’Connor quote: “I’m always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.” And I remember Adam Nossiter’s New York Times Review quote referring to the horror, denial and coverup of the Tulsa Race Riot. Speaking of us he says, “a society so deeply unreflective is capable of just about anything.” I think between the reality of honest fiction and the ironic grace of poetry, we have the unique opportunity to reflect, to find courage and insight to balance our otherwise tipsy world. Scissortail Festival affords us this opportunity.


Often I open the door to let in
the sound of rain tapping
along with a Brahms’ symphony
or the Allman Brothers – often
my pen cannot keep pace
with dropping water
or chilling violins
or the tragic guitars – often
I remind myself that rain,
like music, like a pen moving
on paper, is what the world
needs most. It could be
that the thunder outside
is no match for singing birds
at rainy dawn – the collection
of voices, a light that brings us home.

from Margaritas & Redfish

(Lamar UP, 2013)

Welcome! Enjoy!

Ken Hada

1 comment:

  1. Joey Brown's excerpt "The Right People for the Right House from her book Misadventures of Home Renovations really captivated the audience. I enjoyed her colorful descriptions of the various houses she came upon while looking for her house. I loved the way she personified her house as being haunted and not loving it's new occupants. The way she described her husband is hilarious!