Saturday, October 10, 2020


From Ken Hada, Director
on behalf of ECU Colleagues
October 10, 2020

Dear Friends, Authors, Guests of the Scissortail Festival:

With sadness I am announcing that we will not be hosting an on-campus live event April 2021.

A Live-Streaming program (April 1-3) featuring six wonderful authors will substitute for our traditional festival format (please see relevant postings).

Multiple reasons converge to make this cancellation for 2021 necessary. The overarching concern is for the health of everyone involved. Connected to this concern, even if a vaccine were available, and/or things are much better by April, much of the planning for the annual festival occurs during the months of September through February. As things stand now, it is simply impossible to plan for an uncertain future event. I’m sure you can appreciate the challenges involved were we to plan a live event, then have to undo it, if the virus situation is not under control (as was the case last year). Scissortail Festival is about bringing people together. We (and many of you) have worked hard to bring folks to the festival on an annual basis. Given that people from multiple cities and towns across the nation attend the festival, we simply have no satisfactory way of regulating who attends and how many would potentially be available in session rooms. I’m sure you can appreciate the potential chaos of people intending to attend, then not showing up for their reserved seat, and others arriving only to be told that safe capacity has been reached, etc. Moreover, such an approach goes against the coming together attitude that makes our festival what it is.

Further, considerable construction is occurring in the places where we normally hold our readings, and there is absolutely no guarantee that the construction will be finished by April. All of these factors, combining with uncertain attendance of students, along with an overworked faculty trying to adjust to online teaching and departmental chores, while maintaining safety and personal concerns for their families, make it wise to cancel for 2021.

I encourage all of us to enthusiastically support the live-streams of our six, selected authors who are scheduled to present at 4 and 6pm, April 1-3, 2021. Beyond their stellar abilities, we need to keep the first weekend of April vibrant with the Scissortail vibe! Please join us for live-streams and/or reposts. We are also scheduling a reading by ECU students. Please support them as well (Saturday, April 3 at 2pm). Further details will be announced, but please save those dates! Thank you.

Also, please note: The Darryl Fisher High School Contest is occurring (see posting). We will not conduct an undergraduate contest for 2021.

Finally, we are committed to returning live with our traditional format in April 2022. That is the hope of all involved, both for our festival, and more important, for the health of our societies.


Ken Hada

Sunday, September 6, 2020

17th Annual R. Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest

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

Prizes to be awarded by mail in the month of April, 2021
Fiction: 1st Place $250; 2nd Place $150; 3rd Place $100
Poetry: 1st Place $250; 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) Student’s Mailing Address 3) Teacher’s name 4) Classification (senior, junior, etc.) 5) Phone number, Email and student’s mailing address. (No work submitted without a mailing address for each student cannot be judged)
* Work may be submitted through conventional mail or email.

DEADLINE: Conventional mail must be postmarked on or before Friday, February 5, 2021. Email entries must be sent by 11:59 p.m. on February 5, 2021. There will be no exceptions. Winners will be notified and awards will be mailed to students during the month of April 2021. The names of winning writers will be posted online at:

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)

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Winners of the 16th Annual Daryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest

Poetry Winners
First Place: Eva Hicks. "Torturous Dreams." Edmond MHS (Instructor: Kelly Bristow)
Second Place: Izabel Tyler. "Bones." Little Axe HS (Neal Elkins)
Third Place: Skyla Daniels. "Joy." Chandler HS (Kim Leatherwood)

Honorable Mentions:
Gracie Kinnaman. "There is a Line." Cascia Hall (Sarah Kennedy)
Layla Drotar. "Monroe County, MI." Cascia Hall (Sarah Kennedy)
Laura Ramos. "Breeze." Mustang HS (David Christy)
Emily Newby. "Self Discovery," Broken Arrow HS (Patricia Torres)
Cat Draper. "Crime to Love." Edmond MHS (Kelly Bristow)
Emma Bax. "The Good One." Edmond MHS (Kelly Bristow)
Jacob Compton. "Castle at the Edge of the Sea." Lawton HS (Terence Freeman)
Aahila Patton. "Growing Wings." Lawton HS (Terence Freeman)
Gabrielle McMahon-Csaki. "Sleep Deprived." Vanoss HS (Beverly Rambo)
Emma Lane. "Not Enough." Mount Saint Mary Catholic HS (Rebecca Lane)

Fiction Winners:
First Place: Delanie Seals. “Interim.” Byng High School (Instructor: Courtney White)
Second Place: Guthrie Jenkins. “The Loneliest Road.” Norman High School (Sara Doolittle)
Third Place: Evan Boothe. “Operation Armageddon.” Washington High School (Jessica Enox)

Honorable Mention:
Gabrielle McMahon-Csaki. “Flavia.” Vanoss High School (Beverly Rambo)
Bailey Sparks. “Letters Never Sent.” Washington High School (Dawn Lanham)
Hailey Kafitz. “Dear.” Norman High School (Sara Doolittle)
Rhylee Tucker. “Lights Out.” Pauls Valley High School (Stephanie Bonner)
Jennie Higdon. “I Can’t Remember the Title.” Washington High School (Brandi Castle)
Perrisa A. Borders. “The Devil Wears Saint Laurent.” Pathways Middle College (Michelle Manning)
Ian Holdman. “The Cold.” Bartlesville High School (Anna Garrett)
Emma Dennin. “James, Grace, and the Subways.” Edmond Memorial High School (Kelly Bristow)
Emily Newby. “Vacuvallum: Desolate and Paradisal.” Broken Arrow High School (Patricia Torres)
Hayleigh Carrillo. “Rings Made of Gold and Lies.” Pathways Middle College (Michelle Manning)
Ledi Mull. "Something Cherished." Bartlesville High School (Anna Garrett)

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Scissortail Creative Writing Festival at East Central University

Since 2005, East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma has hosted the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival on the first weekend in April.

The three-day festival typically hosts feature presentations from more than 50 regional, published and emerging authors.

Over the years, at least 12 state poet laureates, 3 national poet laureates, at least 10 National Book Award winners/runnersup from various organizations, at least 6 National Western Heritage Award winners, and at least two Pulitzer prize winners have presented at the Festival.

The Scissortail Creative Writing Festival also features Oklahoma’s most prestigious high school creative writing competition. The annual Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest, which began in 2004, is open to all state high school students submitting poetry or short works of fiction.

All sessions are free and open to the public.

For more information about some of our previous festivals, click on these links: 2019, 20182017201620152014201320122011.

2020: Schedule of Readings

15th AnnualScissortail Creative Writing Festival
April 2-4, 2020
East Central University
Ada, Oklahoma

Thursday, April 2

I. 9:30 – 10: 45 Estep Auditorium 

Rebecca Hatcher Travis: Sulphur, Oklahoma
Through My Eyes
Chris Murphy: Northeastern State University
and the creek: flash fiction
Ann Howells: Carrollton, Texas
So Longs As We Speak Their Names
Cullen Whisenhunt: SEOSU
Bent Branches

2020 Scissortail Biographies

Jeffrey Alfier’s most recent book is Gone This Long: Southern Poems (Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2019). The Shadow Field, a collection of fresh poems set overseas, is forthcoming from Louisiana Literature Press (January, 2020). The Wolf Yearling, (Silver Birch, 2013), Idyll for a Vanishing River (Glass Lyre, 2013), and Fugue for a Desert Mountain (Flutter Press, 2017) are collections of poems set in the American Southwest. In 2016, Cowboy Buddha Publishing published Anthem for Pacific Avenue, a collection of California poems, and Aldrich Press came out with The Red Stag at Carrbridge: Scotland Poems. His journal publication credits include The Carolina Quarterly, Chiron Review, Copper Nickel, Midwest Quarterly, Permafrost, Red Earth Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Texas Review. He is founder and co-editor of Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review.

Dorothy Alexander is a poet, memoirist, storyteller, author of four poetry collections, two multi-genre memoirs, and two volumes of oral history. Her work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Malpais Review; Sugar Mule Literary Review; Blood & Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine; Oklahoma Humanities Journal; Missing Persons, (Beatlick Press of Albuquerque); Weaving the Terrain (Dos Gatos Press of ABQ). She curated poetry readings at the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Oklahoma for 15 years, and is a recipient of the Carlile Award for Distinguished Service to the Oklahoma literary community. She currently curates a monthly poetry reading at the Santa Fe Convention Center under the auspices of the City of Santa Fe NM and its Bureau of Tourism and is co-owner with Devey Napier of Village Books Press, Cheyenne OK, and Santa Fe NM. In another life, Dorothy was a lawyer and municipal judge for 45 years.

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 Western Heritage Award, Oklahoma Book Award, and a 2009 Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Askew’s essays, poems, and short fiction have appeared in Tin HouseFish Drum, Nimrod, AGNI, Green Country: Writing from Northeastern Oklahoma, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at the University of Oklahoma.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Scissortail Creative Writing Festival 2020 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 3, 2020. (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, 2020. There will be no exceptions. Recognition of writers will occur Friday April 3 as part of the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival held at East Central University (April 2-4, 2020). Please visit (and subscribe via email) to receive festival updates. Contact: Ken Hada, (580) 559-5557 for information regarding the Festival

Judge: Julie Chappell is an ecstatically retired Professor of early British literature and creative writing. She has read her creative works widely, including in venues in California, New Mexico, Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies and journals, such as Elegant Rage: A Poetic Tribute to Woody GuthrieThe Call of the Chupacabra; Malpa├»s ReviewVoices de la LunaDragon Poet ReviewRed River Review; Concho River ReviewStone Renga; and Speak Your Mind: Woody Guthrie Poets Celebrate Freedom of Speech 2019, Poems of Protest & Resistance. Her poetry was included in two podcasts in 2019—Ken Hada’s "Sunday Poems" and Jonas Zdanys’ "Open Windows" —for which she is profoundly humbled and grateful. Her two original poetry collections are Faultlines: One Woman’s Shifting Boundaries (Village Books Press, 2013) and Mad Habits of a Life (Lamar University Literary Press, 2019). Two more collections of poetry and a memoir are in progress. She resides in the woods of Lake Keystone in Oklahoma with her poet husband, Hank Jones, and their five cats, umpteen squirrels, raccoons, road runners, and wild birds.

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:

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Darryl Fisher High School Creative Writing Contest Winners

Prizes for Oklahoma’s most prestigious high school writing competition are awarded in April at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival.

Here are links to some posts announcing winners from previous years: 20202019201820172016201520142013201220112010.