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ADA – An East Central University professor has been honored by the state’s Department of Libraries, whose “Oklahoma Center for the Book” has named his most recent volume of poetry a finalist for a 2020 book award.

Ken Hada, a poet and member of ECU’s English and Languages faculty, has had four of his seven books named finalists by the organization. Hada’s latest nominated book, titled Not Quite Pilgrims, collects poems he wrote from 2007 to 2019.

“The title Not Quite Pilgrims is from a line in one of the poems,” said Hada, who also hosts and organizes ECU’s popular Scissortail Creating Writing Festival each year. “It was suggested by a friendly editor who noticed the book is really about longing.”

Not Quite Pilgrims features three distinct sections. The first looks at interaction with nature, the second is about familial/political upheaval, and the third is, in Hada’s own words, “hopefully a coming together in common mortality.” The poems are narrative free verse, with lyrical images in the first section and some longer narrative style in the second and third sections.

“Of course, it’s nice to be recognized,” said Hada about being named an award finalist again. “But that’s secondary. Honesty with one’s observations and perceptions is more important than any recognition. When one follows that impulse, and disciplines it into an artistic response, only then can a shared experience take shape. As long as we’re human, we have a need to participate in creativity. It’s where we recover our souls.”

Hada’s first book of poetry, The Way of the Wind, was published in 2008 and his eighth book will be released this summer. His 2011 poetry collection Spare Parts won the Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and was featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac.

Not Quite Pilgrims is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and on Hada’s personal website, along with his other works, at


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