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ADA, Okla. – The annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival returns to East Central University April 4-6, 2024, marking the 19th festival to take place. 

Kai Coggin, Steve Yarbrough and Quraysh Ali Lansana, will be the featured authors this year. The event is free and open to the public.

The Scissortail Creative Writing Festival features Oklahoma’s most prestigious high school creative writing competition. The annual Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest, now in its 20th year, is open to all state high school students submitting poetry or short works of fiction. Winners and awards for the state-wide competition, as well as the Undergraduate Contest, will be presented during the event.

The three-day festival attracts an array of known and up-and-coming authors from across Oklahoma and the country. Over 70 authors will reading in 25 sessions. The schedule and updates are available at

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

Below are bios for the featured speakers. Full bios and information on all authors participating can be found on the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival blog.

Kai Coggin
Kai Coggin (she/her) is the inaugural Poet Laureate of the City of Hot Springs, Arkansas, and author of four collections, most recently “Mining for Stardust.”

She is a Certified Master Naturalist, a K-12 Teaching Artist in poetry with the Arkansas Arts Council, an Artist Leadership Fellow with the Mid-America Arts Alliance, and host of the longest running consecutive weekly open mic series in the country—Wednesday Night Poetry. 
Recently awarded the 2021 Governor’s Arts Award, named “Best Poet in Arkansas” by the Arkansas Times, and nominated for Arkansas State Poet Laureate and Hot Springs Woman of the 
Year, her poetry has been nominated six times for The Pushcart Prize, as well as Bettering American Poetry 2015, and Best of the Net 2016, 2018, 2021— awarded in 2022. Ten of Kai’s poems are going to the moon with the Lunar Codex project, and on earth they have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Best of the Net and elsewhere. Coggin is Associate Editor at The Rise Up Review, and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Women’s Writing Guild.

Steve Yarbrough
Steve Yarbrough is the author of twelve books, most recently the novel “Stay Gone Days,” due out in April 2022. 

His work has been published in several foreign languages, including Dutch, Italian, Japanese and Polish, and it has also appeared in Ireland, Canada, and the U.K.  

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction, the California Book Award, the Richard Wright Award and the Robert Penn Warren Award. He has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. His novel “The Unmade World” won the 2019 Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction.

The son of Mississippi Delta cotton farmers, Steve is currently a professor in the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College.  

Quraysh Ali Lansana
Quraysh Ali Lansana earned his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from New York University. He is the author of several poetry collections including “A Gift from Greensboro,” “mystic turf” and more. His chapbooks include “reluctant minivan,” “bloodsoil,” “Greatest Hits: 1995-2005” and “cockroach children: corner poems and street psalms.” He has also written a children’s book, “The Big World.”

He is the editor of Glencoe/McGraw-Hill's “African American Literature Reader,” with several other editor and co-editor credits. “Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community” was published by Teachers & Writers Collaborative and was a 2012 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Award nominee. 

Recent books include “The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop,” “Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writings of Gwendolyn Brooks”, with Sandra Jackson-Opoku, among others.

Lansana has been a literary teaching artist and curriculum developer for over a decade and has led workshops in prisons, public schools, and universities in over 30 states. He is a former faculty member of the Drama Division of The Juilliard School, and served as Director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University from 2002-2011, where he was also Associate Professor of English/Creative Writing. Currently, Lansana is on faculty in the Creative Writing Program of the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and the Red Earth MFA Creative Writing Program at Oklahoma City University.

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