Monday, October 21, 2019

Hotel Arrangements

La Quinta is the official festival hotel for the 2020 festival.

Call and mention "Scissortail Festival"--the rate code is "SF-2020/ LDSF"--in order to get the festival rate for the 2020 Scissortail Festival.

$83 king $88 two queens + tax is available to authors and guests attending the festival (suites are higher price).

From the Management: “Thank you for staying with us every year. We do love serving your group. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.”

Ronnie Gandhi, GM
La Quinta Inn & Suites
2828 E. Arlington St.
Ada, OK 74820
(580) 436-5000 Hotel
(580) 436-5004 Fax

Monday, October 14, 2019

Annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival Set For April 2-4 at East Central University

ADA – The annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival returns to the ECU campus next spring to continue its successful run, marking its 15th year as one of the preeminent events of its kind in the nation. A trio of celebrated authors – Barbara Crooker, Lou Berney, and Octavio Quintanilla – anchors the 2020 installment of the festival, scheduled for April 2-4. The event is open and free to the public. Information and schedules will be available elsewhere on this website.

The Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, as always, features Oklahoma’s most prestigious high school creative writing competition, now in its 16th year. The annual Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest is open to all state high school students submitting poetry or short works of fiction. Details are available here.

Crooker, Berney, and Quintanilla will highlight the three-day festival, which attracts some of the best known and emerging writing talents from around the country.

For more information on the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival or questions about group attendance, contact organizer Dr. Ken Hada at 580-559-5557 or via email at
Following are bios on the three featured writers.

Barbara Crooker is a poetry editor for Italian-Americana, and author of nine full-length books of poetry, with Some Glad Morning coming out in the Pitt Poetry Series in 2019. Her awards include the WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships.

Crooker’s work has appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies, including The Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Chariton Poetry Review, Green Mountains Review, Tar River Poetry Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Hollins Critic, The Denver Quarterly, Smartish Pace, Gargoyle, Christianity and Literature, The American Poetry Journal, Dogwood, Zone 3, Passages North, Nimrod, Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, The Bedford Introduction to Literature, and Nasty Women: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse. Her work has also been read on ABC and the BBC, and featured in Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac” and in Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry”.

Lou Berney is the author of November Road (a Washington Post Best Book of 2018), The Long and Faraway Gone (winner of the Edgar, Anthony, Barry, Macavity, and ALA awards), Whiplash River, and Gutshot Straight, all from William Morrow.

Berney has also written a collection of stories, The Road to Bobby Joe, and his short fiction has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and The Pushcart Prize anthology. He currently teaches in the M.F.A. program at Oklahoma City University.

Octavio Quintanilla is the author of the poetry collection, If I Go Missing (Slough Press, 2014) and is the current Poet Laureate of San Antonio, Texas. His poetry, fiction, translations, and photography have appeared – or are forthcoming – in journals such as Salamander, RHINO, Alaska Quarterly Review, Pilgrimage, Green Mountains Review, Southwestern American Literature, The Texas Observer, Existere: A Journal of Art & Literature, and elsewhere.

Quintanilla’s visual work has been exhibited at Presa House Gallery; AllState Almaguer art space in Mission, Texas; the Weslaco Museum; Our Lady of the Lake University; El Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos; and at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center/Black Box Theater.

An exhibit of Quintanilla’s work is forthcoming at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas and is the regional editor for Texas Books in Review and poetry editor for The Journal of Latina Critical Feminism. Quintanilla teaches Literature and Creative Writing in the M.A./M.F.A. program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

16th Annual R. Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest

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

Prizes awarded at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, April 2-4, 2020 
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, January 31, 2020. Email entries must be sent by 11:59 p.m. on January 31, 2020. There will be no exceptions. Winners will be notified in early March, and awards will be presented Saturday, April 4 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, March 21, 2019

Scissortail 2019: The Poster

From the Director, 2019

Welcome to the 14th annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival.

On behalf of so many: sponsors, colleagues, administration, students and volunteers, it is my pleasure to welcome to you Ada, Oklahoma and East Central University. This year we welcome 19 new voices to the festival. I hope all of us, new and returning writers, guests and workers, greatly enjoy our time together.

A stanza from a Stanley Kunitz poem has been speaking to me:

The sands whispered, Be separate,
The stones taught me, Be hard.
I dance, for the joy of surviving,
On the edge of the road.
(Stanley Kunitz, “An Old Cracked Tune” Passing Through: The Later Poems)

And a couple of lines from my poem “In Kyoto” (in my latest collection, Not Quite Pilgrims):
“not unlike Basho, making something / that may outlive itself.”

As writers, as teachers, as citizens trying to make a positive difference, we sometimes find ourselves “on the edge of the road” – on the margins of a consumer society. I hope the gathering together at the festival inspires us all to continue the good work of making something / that may outlive itself.

See you soon!
Ken Hada

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Winners of the 15th Annual R. Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest

Poetry Winners
First Place: Olivia Robertson, "Nannerl," Norman HS (Instructor: Sara Doolittle)
Second Place: Checotah Fulks, "Witness of Rust," Purcell HS (Liz Leonard)
Third Place: Amanda Baskett, "Sexual assault feels like a rite of passage," Edmond Memorial HS (Kelly Bristow)

Honorable Mentions:
Evie Sondag, "At the End," Norman HS (Sara Doolittle)
Brenna Sawney, "Love is a Weapon," Sallisaw HS (Sarah Wilson)
Mia Di Renzo, "Untitled," Lawton HS (Terence Freeman)
Jacob Compton, "Past Tense," Lawton HS (Terence Freeman)
Adam Nunez, "The Contract," Epic Charter Schools (Richard Filbert)
Trinity Whitehead, "Chasm," Ada HS (Megan Moiser)
Ariana Delarosa, "Shoes/Heart," Norman North HS (Brent Taylor)
J.D. Wright, "Revelation 13," Altus HS (Jessica Robinson)
Kyle Marshall, "Ripples," Edmond Memorial HS (Kelly Bristow)
Zoe Hamilton, "Stockholm Syndrome," Edmond Memorial HS (Kelly Bristow)

Fiction Winners:
First Place: Rachel Owen. “The Skeleton of the Daylily.” Norman (Sara Doolittle)
Second Place: Evan Boothe. “The Tones of the Void.” Washington (Dawn Lanham)
Third Place: Amanda Baskett. “If You Love Something.” Edmond Memorial (Kelly Bristow)

Honorable Mentions:
Rachel Black. “The Final Frontier.” Grove (Terri Guthridge)
Perrisa A. Borders. “All Smiles.” Santa Fe South Pathways (Michelle Manning)
Georgia Campbell. “Siren Song.” Norman (Sara Doolittle)
Hayleigh Carrillo. “Ecstasy.” Santa Fe South Pathways (Michelle Manning)
Olivia Clayton. “Late Night Drive.” Tulsa Union (Henry Cribbs)
Chassidy Dixon. “Lost Justice.” Marlow (Ann Field)
Harper Keppel. “Mysterious Letters from X.” Norman (Sara Doolittle)
Megan Roach. “The Story of a Yankee.” Washington (Dawn Lanham)
Jamie Slaton. “A Rebel at Heart.” Santa Fe South Pathways (Michelle Manning)
Hayley Steele. “The Key.” Norman North (Brent Taylor)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

2019: Schedule of Readings

14th AnnualScissortail Creative Writing Festival
April 4-6, 2019
East Central University
Ada, Oklahoma

Thursday, April 4

I. 9:30 – 10: 45 Estep Auditorium 

Ben Myers – Oklahoma Baptist University
Black Sunday: The Dust Bowl Sonnets
Joey Brown – Missouri Southern State Univ.
Content Subject to Change: Take 2
Gary Worth Moody – Santa Fe, New Mexico
See That My Grave is Kept: NorteƱo Desert, Rio Grande Blues

II. 11:00 – 12: 15 Estep Auditorium

Larry D. Thomas – Las Cruces, New Mexico
Julie Chappell, on Lake Keystone (Oklahoma)
Scorpion dreams among us
Chris Ellery – Angelo State University
Elegy for Father Frans
Walter Bargen – Ashland, Missouri
My Other Mother’s Red Mercedes

*** Lunch ***

III. 2:00 – 3: 15 North Lounge

Dan Wilcox -Albany, New York
Baseball Poems
Sarah Webb – Burnet, Texas
Following the Thread
Bill Endres – University of Oklahoma
In a Fit of Self-Loathing & Other Poems
Lyman Grant – Harrisonburg, Virginia

IV. 2:00 – 3:15 Estep Auditorium

Paul Juhasz – Allentown, Pennsylvania
If Two Crazy People Can Dance, Who Eats the Dog?
Sally Rhoades – Albany, New York
Yellow Roses and Green Pears
Mark Johnson – Tulsa, Oklahoma
The Muse Leaves Oklahoma Behind
Colin Pope – Stillwater, Oklahoma
Why I Didn’t Go To Your Funeral

V. 3:30 – 4:45 Estep Auditorium

Paul Austin – Norman, Oklahoma
Notes on Hard Times
Michelle Hartman – Ft. Worth, Texas
Wanton Disarray
Cullen Whisenhunt & Randy Prus –Murray State College & SEOSU
Poem Tag
Chris Soden – Dallas, Texas

VI. 3:30 – 4:45 North Lounge

John Yozzo – Tulsa, Oklahoma
Poems My Father Taught Me: Lyrics from the Guthrie Readings
Sharon Edge Martin – Oilton, Oklahoma
Art and Politics
Bill McCloud – Rogers State University
Poetry on Deadline
John Andrews – Stillwater, Oklahoma
Colin is Changing His Name: Growing Up and Coming Out in the Rural South in Poems

VII. 7:00 – 8:30 Ataloa Theatre
Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center
featuring: Tracy K. Smith

(Authors’ Reception – Vintage 22)
 (800 E. Main St.)

2019 Scissortail Biographies

C. D. Albin was born and reared in West Plains, Missouri. He earned a Doctor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and has taught for many years at Missouri State University – West Plains. He is the author of the story collection Hard Toward Home (Press 53, 2016), for which he received the 2017 Missouri Author Award in Fiction from the Missouri Library Association. He is also the author of the poetry collection Axe, Fire, Mule (Golden Antelope Press, 2018), and his stories, poems, and reviews have appeared in many periodicals, including Arkansas Review, Cape Rock, Georgia Review, Harvard Review, Natural Bridge, and Slant. His author website is

Dorothy Alexander is a poet, memoirist, storyteller and retired lawyer/judge. She began writing poetry and other creative genres after the loss of her son, Kim Alexander, to HIV/AIDS in 1989. She is the co-founder, along with her life partner, Devey Napier, of a small independent poetry press promoting the work of southwest regional poets. The Oklahoma Center for the Book presented Dorothy with the 2013 Carlile Distinguished Service Award for her services to the Oklahoma literary community.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

2019 Scissortail Creative Writing Festival set for April 4-6

ADA – Tracy K. Smith, United States Poet Laureate for 2017-2019, and Brandon Hobson, author and one of five finalists for the 2018 National Book Award, will be the featured speakers for East Central University’s 2019 Scissortail Creative Writing Festival set for April 4-6, 2019.

There will be more than 50 speakers 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 Detailed information is also available on this website..

Smith, who will be speaking on the first day of the event on April 4, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and was a National Book Award Finalist for Memoir. In 2017, she was appointed the 22nd United States Poet Laureate.

Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Nonfiction and was selected as a Notable Book by the New York Times and Washington Post, as well as three books of poetry.

Her most recent collection of poems, Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011), won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. The collection draws on sources as disparate as Arthur C. Clarke and David Bowie and is part of the elegiac tribute to her late father, an engineer who worked on the Hubble Telescope.

Duende (2007) won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question (2003) was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005.

In 2014, the Academy of American Poets awarded Smith with the Academy Fellowship, awarded to one poet each year to recognize distinguished poetic achievement. In 2016, she won the 16th Annual Robert Creeley Award. Her most recent collection, Wade in the Water (Graywolf, 2018), boldly ties America’s contemporary moment both to the nation’s fraught founding history and a sense of the spirit, the everlasting.

Her memoir, Ordinary Light, “begins with a harrowing scene at the deathbed of Smith’s mother, who died in 1994,” writes Craig Morgan Teicher. “From there it circles back to Smith’s early childhood, tracing her growth not just as a writer, but as someone who must learn the hard lessons of puberty and early adulthood, as well as what it means to be a black woman growing up in suburban California. Her discovery of poetry is part of this, but the most remarkable moments of the book are the ones in which Smith deals with ordinary trials, which she treats with rare insight and heart.

Booklist calls Ordinary Light “a gracefully nuanced yet strikingly candid memoir about family, faith, race and literature” and praises Smith for her ability to “hold our intellectual and emotional attention ever so tightly as she charts her evolving thoughts on the divides between races, generations, economic classes, religion and science and celebrates her lifesaving discovery of poetry as ‘soul language.’” BBC’s Between the Lines, says simply, “Ordinary Light is a lament, an homage, a discovery, a blessing.”

A resident of Princeton, New Jersey, Smith did her undergraduate work at Harvard before earning her M.F.A. at Columbia University before going on to be a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University from 1997-99. She is the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in Humanities and director of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University.

Hobson is the author of Where The Dead Sit Talking, which was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award. Where the Dead Sit Talking, according to one reviewer, “takes us to a strange, dangerous place normally kept hidden. From the opening hook, with the unhurried authority of a master, Brandon Hobson initiates the reader into the secret lives of lost and unwanted teenagers trying to survive in an uncaring world. Creepy, sad, yet queerly thrilling.”

Reader’s Digest asserts: “Hobson has a remarkable ability to travel deep into a very dark place and come out plausibly on the side of light.”

Hobson is also the author of the books Deep Ellum and Desolation of Avenues Untold.

He has won a Pushcart Prize and his stories and essays have appeared in such places as The Believer, Conjunctions, NOON, The Paris Review Daily, Publisher’s Weekly and elsewhere. Hobson teaches at Northern Oklahoma College and is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation Tribe of Oklahoma.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Scissortail Creative Writing Festival 2019 Undergraduate Creative Writing Contest

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

  • Contest is open only to currently enrolled undergraduate students.
  • Eligible students are expected to attend the Festival. Recognition will occur Friday evening, April 5. (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 writing. 
  • 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 separate 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 1, 2019. There will be no exceptions. Recognition of writers will occur Friday April 5 as part of the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival held at East Central University (April 4-6, 2019). Please visit (and subscribe via email) to receive festival updates. Contact: Ken Hada, (580) 559-5557 for information regarding the Festival 

Judge: Alan Berecka earns his keep as a librarian at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi. He wrote a creative thesis at the University of North Texas in 1987. Since then has published four collections of poems, the latest of which is The Hamlet of Stittville. Among other places, his poetry has appeared in periodicals such as The Texas Review, The American Literary Review, The Christian Century and the anthologies: Oklahoma Poems and Their Poets and the St. Peter’s B-list by Ava Maria Press. In 2017 he was named the first poet laureate of Corpus Christi.

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. Information: