Thursday, October 25, 2018

Scissortail Submission Guidelines

14th Annual Scissortail Festival, April 4-6, 2019

Approximately 60 authors will be selected for the program. Selections (and rejections) are determined by members of the ECU English faculty. Selections to the program are accepted on the basis of:
  • Quality, Published Work (peer-reviewed journals, for example)
  • Freshness of Material (reading some new stuff)
  • Appropriateness for Time Restraints and Subject Matter 
  • Meeting the Submission Deadline
Keeping with the spirit of the Scissortail Festival, readers on the program are expected to support other readers by attending multiple sessions.

Unaccepted submissions often do not reflect quality of writing – space, time and personnel limit our ability to accept as many as we would like. All applicants (those accepted and those not accepted for the program) are cordially invited to attend the festival to enjoy the benefits of interacting with fellow authors (the festival hotel rate is available for all guests of the festival).

Please review the following guidelines before submitting. To fit a very tight schedule, authors will have 15 minutes to present their material. Fiction and creative nonfiction writers are encouraged to excerpt their submission to fit into the time restraints (The appeal of a narrative may, in fact, be heightened by presenting a carefully selected excerpt, rather than speed-reading).

Guidelines: Please read closely and follow exactly. Please look at your calendar before submitting! Due to the increasing number of festival participants, it is very difficult to accommodate special scheduling requests. Please do not ask. Please understand that Ada, Oklahoma is a small town with very limited public transportation and has a limited number of hotel rooms. Ada is a two-hour drive from the Oklahoma City airport, three hours from DFW (in good traffic) and two and half hours from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Scissortail Festival is unable to provide shuttle service to and from these airports, so please consider these factors before submitting.

Scissortail is a reading festival. No workshops, how-to, propaganda or pre-arranged panels are acceptable. Reading sessions feature a mixture of authors and genre.

Sessions usually consist of 3 or 4 readers per session. Authors should plan for 15 minutes total time at the mic (including prose) depending on how the session is scheduled. Please respect your audience and fellow readers by diligently adhering to time restraints.

Email submissions are preferred. Submit: 1) complete contact information 2) the title of your program and the work to be considered – please consider the time restraints per reader

3) a paragraph-length biographical narrative summarizing publications and significant accomplishments (please write bios in 3rd person).

Deadline for submission is December 30, 2018. The schedule will be announced as early as possible, in January) and certainly by early February at the latest.

Send email submissions to: Identify “Scissortail Submission” in the subject line.

Please check your calendar before submitting. Participants are not charged registration fees, nor are authors compensated. Please subscribe by providing your email at in order to receive notice of information regarding the festival and related events. Updates are posted at that site.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The 15th Annual R. Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest

East Central University presents
Oklahoma’s Most Prestigious High School Writing Competition

Prizes awarded at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, April 4-6, 2019

Fiction: 1st Place $200; 2nd Place $150; 3rd place $100
Poetry: 1st Place $200; 2nd Place $150; 3rd place $100
20 Honorable Mention Awards of $25 each

* All Oklahoma high school students (9th - 12th grade) are eligible.
* Poetry (up to 100 lines) or Short Fiction (up to 6,000 words) is acceptable.
* Limit 5 poems and 1 short fiction piece per student.
* All entries must be the original work of the student.
* All entries must be neatly typed; please double-space fiction entries.
* Entries will not be returned, so keep your originals.
* No identifying marks should be on the manuscript itself, except for the title.
* Provide cover page with contact information: 1) Student’s name; 2) Teacher’s name 3) School 4) Classification (senior, junior, etc.) 5) Phone number, Email and mailing address.
* Work may be submitted through conventional mail or email.

DEADLINE: Conventional mail must be postmarked on or before Friday, February 1, 2019 Email entries must be sent by 11:59 p.m. on February 1, 2019. There will be no exceptions. Winners will be notified in early March, and awards will be presented Saturday, April 6 in the Cole University Center (Estep Auditorium), on the East Central University campus. A list of winners and winning entries may be posted online at Please visit this site for festival and contest history and information. Previous award-winning Fisher contest entries are also available . 

Poetry Submissions: send work electronically as attached files to or mail to Dr. Joshua Grasso, East Central University, Dept. of English & Languages, 1100 E. 14th St., Ada, OK 74820

Fiction Submissions: send work electronically as attached files to or mail to Dr. Mark Walling, East Central University, Dept. of English and Languages, 1100 E. 14th St., Ada, OK 74820

Contest Information: Dr. Joshua Grasso (580-235-3197); Dr. Mark Walling (580-559-5440). Scissortail Creative Writing Festival Information: Dr. Ken Hada (580-559-5557)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

It's On!

As of 9:30 this morning, the Thirteenth Annual the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival is under way.

If you're not here yet, come soon!

We'll be here through Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

From the Director, 2018

Welcome to Scissortail 2018!! This year 57 authors have been selected to present their work; 15 of these are new voices to the festival. On behalf of ECU English Faculty, our Sponsors and Donors and many other volunteers, I welcome you to our 13th annual festival. We are happy to host you.

I recently ran across a quote from Guillermo del Toro, referring to his Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water: “To me, it’s not a matter of how many people like it, but how deep people like it.” I think this perfectly expresses the attitude of an artist, and I think it could not be more appropriate for our Scissortail authors. Working authors know the highs and lows of presenting their material around the country, but for all of them, the fact that some deeply like their work, is the highest praise, and the purest reason to write. Few things in life are as magical as the connection made between an author and an audience. And so, in this spirit, once again, we gather to share the creativity that shapes so many of us. I am often asked why ECU puts on this festival, and one of my answers usually goes something like this: “This is what universities are supposed to do.” It’s festival time! Welcome. I hope you are inspired.

Ken Hada

Monday, March 12, 2018

Scissortail 2018: The Poster

Winners of the 14th Annual R. Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest

Poetry winners
First Place: Amanda Baskett, "Things I Know To Be True." Edmond MHS (Kelly Bristow)
Second Place: Carmela Holt, "Coward's estuary." Norman HS (Sara Doolittle)
Third Place: Brigette Drabek, "Enigma." Moore HS (Eileen Worthington)

Honorable Mentions:
Andrea Salazar-Zegarra, "The Aging of Time." Norman HS (Sara Doolittle)
Mia Shumway, "3 AM." Norman HS (Sara Doolittle)
Jamie Slaton, "Four Lonely Orbitals." Santa Fe South Pathways Middle College (Manning)
Rachel Starkey, "Powerful Women." Edmond MHS (Kelly Bristow)
Dani Lamothe, "I am (borrowed)." Norman NHS (Lezlie Christian)
Kianna Anderson, "Tap, Tap, Tap." Lawton HS (Terence Freeman)
Keiarie Henry, "Mental Illness." Lawton HS (Terence Freeman)
Keller Freeman, "Races." Bishop McGuiness Catholic HS (Rebecca McKee)

Fiction winners
First Place: Hayleigh Carrillo, "Deadly Petals." Santa Fe South HS (Michelle Manning)
Second Place: Brigette Drabek, "Searching for Light." Moore HS (Eileen Worthington)
Third Place: Dani Lamothe, "Us Against the Assholes." Norman North HS (Lezlie Christian)

Honorable Mention: 
Megan Roach, "Battle of the Mind." Washington HS (Dawn Lanham)
McKenna Stroud, "Government Cover-ups, Aliens, and Craigslist." Norman HS (Sara Doolittle)
Kathryn Garn, "Behind the Red Bow." Norman HS (Sara Doolittle)
Mia Shumway, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Norman HS (Sara Doolittle)
Amanda Basket, "Grit & Grace." Edmond Memorial HS (Kelly Bristow)
Mariah Stewart, "Broken Bones and Hollow Souls." Edmond Memorial HS (Kelly Bristow)
Jace Appling, "Untitled." Norman North HS (Lezlie Christian)
Evan Wade Boothe, "The Things in the River." Washington HS (Dawn Lanham)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Scissortail Creative Writing Contest for Undergraduates

Prizes: 1st - $100  2nd - $75  3rd - $50
(Plus Several Honorable Mentions)

  • Contest is open only to currently enrolled undergraduate students.
  • Eligible students are expected to attend the Festival, Friday April 6.  (Please do not submit if you cannot attend the festival).
  • Submissions must be confirmed by a sponsoring faculty member.
  • Each institution is allowed a maximum of 5 (five entries); This includes ECU.
  • Submissions are limited to one of three categories: 1) one piece of short fiction (up to 7500 words), or one piece of creative nonfiction (up to 7500 words), or up to three poems (150 lines total).
  • Prizes will not be designated by genre, but will be awarded for best submissions.
  • All entries must be the original work of the student.
  • All entries must be neatly typed; please double-space prose entries.
  • Entries will not be returned, so keep your originals.
  • No identifying marks should be on the manuscript itself, except for the title.
  • Provide Cover page with contact information: 1) Student’s Name; 2) Student’s email address AND mailing address 3) Faculty Member’s Name & Email address 3) Institution 4) Classification 5) Phone number 6) Title of original work submitted
  • Submit work by email to Dr. Jennifer Dorsey at . In the subject line of your email submission, type “Scissortail Undergraduate Contest.”
  • Professor Dorsey will screen initial entries, then an outside judge will judge all entries that meet minimum guidelines. 

DEADLINE: Email entries to  must be received by midnight March 2, 2018. There will be no exceptions. Awards and recognition will occur Friday April 6 as part of the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival held at East Central University (April 5-7, 2018). Please visit (and subscribe via email) to receive festival updates. Contact: Ken Hada, (580) 559-5557 for information regarding the Festival.

Judge: We are proud to introduce Gary Worth Moody as the judge for this year’s contest. Gary is a graduate of St. John's College and of the George Mason University MFA Program. Gary has worked as a forest fire fighter, a farrier, a cowboy, and building a town for coal miners in Siberia’s Kuzbass Region. His poems have appeared in myriad journals on both sides of the Atlantic, and in the anthologies, Cabin Fever: Poets at Joaquin Miller’s Cabin, 1984-2001 (Word Works Press) and Weaving the Terrain (Dos Gatos Press). He is the author of Hazards of Grace (Red Mountain Press, 2012), Occoquan (Red Mountain Press, 2015), shortlisted for the international Rubery Book Award in poetry. Gary’s 3rd manuscript, The Burnings, has been accepted for publication by 3: A Taos Press. He is currently developing a 4th manuscript entitled Lolita, the Bird and the black-Tongued Dog. A falconer, Gary lives in Santa Fe with the artist and writer, Oriana Rodman, two dogs, and Plague, a male red-tail hawk.

Sponsors: The Undergraduate Writing Contest is sponsored by The East Central University Foundation, Inc, in partnership with THE RED EARTH MFA program from Oklahoma City University, directed by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish. Red Earth representatives will be at the 2017 Scissortail Festival. Information about Red Earth MFA is available at

Friday, January 19, 2018

2018: Schedule of Readings

13th Annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival
April 5-7, 2018
East Central University
Ada, Oklahoma

Thursday, April 5

I. 9:30 – 10: 45 Estep Auditorium 

Jason Poudrier - Cameron University
Pvt Pau & We All Had Our Wives
Terri Cummings – Nichols Hills, Oklahoma
Alan Gann – Dallas, Texas
Field Notes: Love, Politics & Movie Musicals

II. 11:00 – 12: 15 Estep Auditorium

Don Stinson – Northern Oklahoma College
from Flatline Horizon
Gay Pasley – Edmond, Oklahoma
Fact Finding
John Yozzo – Tulsa, Oklahoma
for havin' gotten rid of me: love-lyrics Flip-side B: all the goodbyes

*** Lunch ***

III. 2:00 – 3:20 North Lounge

Hank Jones – Tarleton State University
A Rash of Poetry
Dorothy Alexander – Santa Fe, New Mexico
Nevertheless: The Art of Persistence
Christopher Soden – Dallas, Texas
Little Bird
Bill McCloud – Pryor, Oklahoma
Recovering the Rhythm of War

IV. 2:00 – 3:20 Estep Auditorium

Margaret Dornaus – Ozark, Arkansas
For My Ancestors
Aaron Glover – Dallas, Texas
They Say the Plains are Lonely
Laurence Musgrove – Angelo State University
One Kind of Recording
Daniel Miller – Amarillo, Texas
To Shoot a Rattlesnake

V. 3:30 – 4:45 Estep Auditorium

Ann Howells – Carrollton, Texas
Softly Beating Wings
Gary Worth Moody – Santa Fe, New Mexico
Lolita, The Bird and the Black-Tongued Dog
Rebecca Hatcher Travis – Sulphur,
Oklahoma from Constant Fires
Roy Beckemeyer – Wichita, Kansas
Amanuensis Angel

VI. 7:00 – 8:15 Estep Auditorium
Carol Coffee Reposa – San Antonio, Texas
In Oklahoma & other poems
Andrew Geyer – Univ. of South Carolina-Aiken
Tangled Up in Blue
Robin Carstensen –Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
Poetry: Histories and Wars
Alan Berecka – Del Mar College
Finally, The Hamlet of Stittville

(Authors’ Reception TBA)

Friday, April 6

VII. 9:00 – 9:50 Estep Auditorium

William Peter Grasso –Tulsa, Oklahoma
from Our Ally, Our Enemy
Maureen DuRant – Cameron University
Skirmishes on the Okie-Irish Border
Brady Peterson – Belton, Texas
GarcĂ­a Lorca Is Somewhere in Produce.

VIII. 10:00 – 10:50 Estep Auditorium

Eddie Malone – University of Oklahoma
The Healing Project
Rilla Askew – University of Oklahoma
They Live Meanly Here

IX. 10:00 – 10:50 North Lounge

Larry D. Thomas – Las Cruces, New Mexico
The Innkeeper
Roxie Faulkner Kirk - Morris, Oklahoma
from Save Yourself
X. 11:00 – 11:50 North Lounge

Michael Dooley – Tarleton State University
Drowning the Monsters
Joey Brown - Missouri Southern State Univ.
Content Subject to Change
Chris Murphy – Northeastern State University
Roscoe & flash fiction

XI. 11:00 – 11:50 Estep Auditorium

Paul Juhasz – Allentown, Pennsylvania
Steven Schroeder - Chicago, Illinois
In the Path of Totality
Richard Dixon – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Leaving Home

*** Lunch ***

XII. 2:00 – 3:20 North Lounge

Sally Rhoades – Albany, New York
Don’t Put Plastic Flowers on My Grave
Thomas Murphy- Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
The Barron Park Diwan
Yvonne Carpenter – Clinton, Oklahoma
Poems from the Prairie
Preston Marshall – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
from Regicide

XIII. 2:00 -3:20 Estep Auditorium

John Morris – Cameron University
Selflessly Through the End of the Steps
Sarah Webb – Burnet, Texas
Red Riding Hood’s Sister
Clarence Wolfshohl – Fulton, Missouri
from Queries and Wonderments
Robert Dean Jr. – Augusta, Kansas
At the Lake with Heisenberg

XIV. 3:30 – 4:45 Estep Auditorium

Sly Alley – Tecumseh, Oklahoma
That Good Medicine & other poems
Cindy Huyser – Austin, Texas
Siren Hours
Chris Ellery – Angelo State University
America Is Having an Existential Crisis
Ron Wallace – Southeastern Ok State U.
from Renegade

XV. 7:00 Estep Auditorium

Featuring George Bilgere
Saturday, April 7

XVI. 9:00– 10:15 Estep Auditorium

Nathan Brown – Wimberley, Texas
An Honest Day’s Confession
Michael Howarth – Missouri Southern State U.
A Scoundrel Looks at Forty
Maryann Hurtt – Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
How My Heart Learned to Bleed Orange
Paul Austin – Norman, Oklahoma
Notes for Hard Times

XVII. 10:30 -11:45 Estep Auditorium

Abigail Keegan – Oklahoma City University
I Could Turn and Live with Animals
Simon Han – Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Impossible Task of Remembering the Nanking Massacre
Julie Chappell – Tarleton State University
Cairns, Cigars, and the Blues
Paul Bowers – Northern Oklahoma College
Quiet and Loud

XVIII. 12:00 – 1:00 pm Estep Auditorium

Grand Finale: Jeanetta Calhoun Mish
* Awarding the Dr. Darryl Fisher State High School Contest Winners

2018 Scissortail Biographies

Dorothy Alexander is a poet, memoirist, storyteller, author of five poetry collections, two multi-genre memoirs, and two volumes of oral history. Her work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Sugar Creek Review; Malpais Review; Sugar Mule Literary Review; Cooweescoowee: a journal of art and literature; Blood & Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine; Dragon Poet Review; Oklahoma Humanities Journal, and others. She has curated poetry readings at the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, Oklahoma, for 13 years, and monthly readings at various venues in Oklahoma City and Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Dorothy reads and performs her poetry throughout Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and New Mexico. She is a recipient of the Carlile Award for Distinguished Service to the Oklahoma literary community. 

Sly Alley is a writer of poetry and short-fiction whose work has appeared in The MuseDragon Poet Review and included in the anthology Ain’t Gonna Be Treated This Way (Village Books Press, 2017). His work has been featured at the annual Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium at Seminole State College, Poetry at The Paramount in Oklahoma City, Woody Guthrie Poets, Oklahoma Voices First Sunday Poetry at IAO Gallery, Second Sunday Poetry at Tidewater Winery and the September Poetry Series at East Central University. His debut collection of poems titled Strong Medicine (Village Books Press, 2016) won the 2017 Oklahoma Book Award for poetry. He writes on a vintage Royal typewriter in a fortified shack in Tecumseh, Oklahoma. 

Rilla Askew is the author of four novels, a book of stories, and a collection of creative nonfiction, Most American: Notes from a Wounded Place. She’s a PEN/Faulkner finalist, recipient of the American Book Award, Western Heritage Award, Oklahoma Book Award, and the Willa Award from Women Writing the West. Her novel about the Tulsa Race Riot, Fire in Beulah, received the American Book Award in 2001. Askew’s essays and short fiction have appeared in Tin House, World Literature Today, Nimrod, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, The Daily Beast, and elsewhere. In 2009 Askew received the Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She teaches creative writing at the University of Oklahoma.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

2018: Scissortail Press Release

 Accomplished poets Jeanetta Calhoun Mish and George Bilgere headline a lengthy list of outstanding writers as East Central University conducts the Annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, April 5-7, on the ECU campus.
Mish and Bilgere are two of 58 writers who will be making presentations at the three-day event.
For more information on the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival or questions about group attendance, contact Dr. Ken Hada at 580-559-5557 or at

Mish, 2017-18 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate, has authored several books, most recently What I Learned at the War, a poetry collection (West End Press, 2016) and Oklahomeland: Essays (Lamar University Press, 2015). Her 2009 poetry collection, Work Is Love Made Visible (West End Press) won an Oklahoma Book Award, a Wrangler Award and the WILLA Award from Women Writing in the West.
She has published poetry in This Land, Naugatuck River Review, Concho River Review, LABOR: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas, World Literature Today, San Pedro River Review, About Place Journal, The Fiddleback and Yellow Medicine Journal, among others.
Essays and short fiction have appeared in Oklahoma Today, Sugar Mule, Crosstimbers, Red Dirt Chronicles, Cybersoleil and The Emily Dickinson Society International Bulletin’s essay series, “Poet to Poet.”
Mish’s anthology publications include poems in Returning the Gift and the Colour of Resistance as well as the introductory essay for Ain’t Nobody That Can Sing Like Me: New Oklahoma Writing.
She is editor of Mongrel Empire Press which was recognized as 2012 Publisher of the Year by the Woodcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.
Mish also serves as contributing editor for World Literature Today, Oklahoma Today and Sugar Mule: A Literary Journal. She is also editor of Mongrel Empire Press while also serving on the board of OKC LitFest and Returning the Gift Indigenous Writers Festival.
She is director of the Red Earth Creative Writing MFA at Oklahoma City University where she also serves as advisor to Red Earth Review and as faculty mentor in writing, pedagogy, professional writing and the craft of poetry.

            Bilgere, a resident of Cleveland, Ohio, has published seven collections of poetry, including most recently, Blood Pages (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018). Others include: Imperial (2014); The White Museum (2010), which was awarded the Autumn House Poetry Prize; Haywire (2006), which earned a May Swenson Poetry Award and the Good Kiss (2002), which was selected by Billy Collins to win the University of Akron Poetry Award.
            He has won numerous awards, including the Midland Authors Award and a Pushcart Prize. Bilgere has received grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Fullbright Commission and Ohio Arts Council.
            Bilgere’s poetry, residing firmly in the everyday world of janitors, college students or siblings, is noted for its controlled poignancy and limpid free-verse line. Collins described him as “a welcome breath of fresh American air.” His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, Fulcrum and the Best American Poetry series.
            He teaches creative writing at John Carroll University. Bilgere grew up in Riverside, California and earned his B.A. at the University of California-Riverside. He received his M.A. in English literature from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and earned a Ph.D. in contemporary British and American poetry from the University of Denver in 1988.
            He has received grants in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the Ohio Arts Council. In 1991, Bilgere was a Fullbright Scholar in Bilbao, Spain. In 2002, he was named a Witter Bynner Fellow through the Library of Congress by U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins.
            Collins called Bilgere’s work “a welcome breath of fresh, American air in the house of contemporary poetry.”