ADA – After an unexpected interruption by last year’s sudden Covid-19 outbreak, East Central University’s popular Scissortail Creative Writing Festival is making its full, triumphant return – virtually. The 16th annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival takes place April 1-3, and the 2021 edition will take advantage of live-stream technology to connect authors with audiences.
Although a few authors sent work in last year, the ECU campus closed down just a couple of weeks before the festival was scheduled to begin. While a full, on-campus festival is being planned for 2022, festival founder and facilitator Dr. Ken Hada is excited about this year’s virtual format.
“The Scissortail Festival is all about bringing people together,” Hada said. “The overarching concern is, of course, for the health of those involved. So, I encourage everyone to enthusiastically support the live streams of our six selected authors. Beyond their stellar abilities, we need to keep the first weekend of April at ECU alive with that Scissortail vibe.”
All authors will be live streaming presentations of their works during the first three days of April at www.youtube.com/tigermedia. Tiger Media is a student production group at ECU. Below are this year’s author profiles and presentation times (all times are Central Time Zone).
Kai Coggin – 4 p.m. Thursday, April 1
Kai Coggin is author of three full-length poetry collections, Periscope Heart (Swimming with Elephants, 2014), Wingspan (Golden Dragonfly Press, 2016), and Incandescent (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019), as well as the spoken-word album Silhouette (2017). She is a queer woman of color who thinks Black lives matter, is a teaching artist in poetry with the Arkansas Arts Council, and is the host of the longest-running consecutive weekly open-mic series in the country – Wednesday Night Poetry. Recently named “Best Poet in Arkansas” by the Arkansas Times, Coggin’s fierce and powerful poetry has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize three times, as well as Bettering American Poetry 2015, and Best of the Net 2016 and 2018. Coggin’s poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Cultural Weekly, Entropy, NELLE, Sinister Wisdom, Calamus Journal, Lavender Review, Luna Luna, Blue Heron Review, Yes, Poetry, and elsewhere. Coggin is associate editor at The Rise Up Review. She lives with her wife and their two adorable dogs in the valley of a small mountain in Hot Springs National Park.
Andrew Geyer – 6 p.m. Thursday, April 1
Andrew Geyer’s ninth book, the story cycle Lesser Mountains (Lamar University Press, 2019), won a 2020 Independent Publisher Book Award for Best Regional Fiction (U.S. South). His other individually authored books are Dixie Fish, a novel; Siren Songs from the Heart of Austin, a story cycle; Meeting the Dead, a novel; and Whispers in Dust and Bone, a story cycle that won the silver medal for short fiction in the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards, as well as a Spur Award for short fiction from the Western Writers of America. Geyer is co-author, with Jerry Craven and Terry Dalrymple, of the hybrid story cycle Dancing on Barbed Wire. Geyer also co-authored Parallel Hours, an alternative history/sci-fi novel; and Texas 5X5, another hybrid story cycle from which one of his stories won a second Spur Award for short fiction. He co-edited the composite anthology A Shared Voice with Tom Mack. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters and the South Carolina Academy of Authors Literary Hall of Fame, Geyer currently serves as English Department chair at the University of South Carolina-Aiken and Fiction Editor for Concho River Review.
Tiffany Midge – 4 p.m. Friday, April 2
Poet Tiffany Midge is author of Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s, (Nebraska UP, 2019), a collection of life, politics, and identity as a Native woman in today’s America. Her other books include Guiding the Stars to Their Campfire, Driving the Salmon to Their Beds (Gazoobi Tales); the full-length poetry collection Outlaws, Renegades and Saints: Diary of a Mixed-Up Halfbreed (Greenfield Review Press, 1996), winner of the Diane Decorah Memorial Poetry Award; the collection, The Woman Who Married a Bear (The University of New Mexico Press, 2016), winner of the Kenyon Review Earthworks Prize for Indigenous Poetry; and the children’s book Animal Lore and Legend: Buffalo (Scholastic, 1995). Midge’s work has appeared in North American Review, World Literature Today, The Raven Chronicles, Florida Review, South Dakota Review, Shenandoah, Poetry Northwest and the online journals No Tell Motel and Drunken Boat. She earned an M.F.A. from the University of Idaho, and she is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. She is of Hunkpapa Sioux and German ancestry and grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where she lives now.
Quraysh Ali Lansana – 6 p.m. Friday, April 2
Quraysh Ali Lansana is author of nine poetry books, three textbooks, three children’s books, editor of eight anthologies, and co-author of a book of pedagogy. He is a fellow with the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, an adjunct professor for Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, and curriculum auditor for Tulsa Public Schools. He is a former faculty member of both the Writing Program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Drama Division of The Juilliard School. Lansana 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 until 2014. Lansana is currently a contributing editor for Oklahoma Today magazine and served as the Poetry Section editor for Black Issues Book Review, as well as a Reading/Language Arts editor for three of the largest educational publishing companies in the nation. He also worked as a Special Program editor for Chicago Public Radio’s “Every Other Hour” series InVerse. Lansana was also an assignment desk assistant for KWTV-9 in Oklahoma City and a news director for KGOU Radio in Norman. Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community (with Georgia A. Popoff) was published in March 2011 by Teachers & Writers Collaborative and was a 2012 NAACP Image Award nominee. His most recent books include the Skin of Dreams: New & Collected Poems, 1995-2018 (The Calliope Group, LLC); The Whiskey of Our Discontent: Gwendolyn Brooks as Conscience & Change Agent (with Georgia A. Popoff, Haymarket Books, 2017); Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writings of Gwendolyn Brooks (with Sandra Jackson-Opoku, Curbside Splendor, 2017); A Gift from Greensboro (Penny Candy Books, 2016); The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop (with Kevin Coval and Nate Marshall, Haymarket Books, 2015); and The Walmart Republic (with Christopher Stewart, Mongrel Empire Press, 2014).
Barbara Crooker – 4 p.m. Saturday, April 3
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 appears 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 Nasty Women: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, and has been read on ABC, the BBC, The Writer’s Almanac, and featured on Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry.
Octavio Quintanilla – 6 p.m. Saturday, April 3
Octavio Quintanilla is the author of the poetry collection, If I Go Missing (Slough Press, 2014) and is the 2018-2020 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. Reviews of his work can be found at CutBank Literary Journal, Concho River Review, San Antonio Express-News, American Microreviews & Interviews, Southwestern American Literature, Pleiades, and others. You can find his Frontextos (visual poems) in Gold Wake Live, Newfound, Chachalaca Review, Chair Poetry Evenings, Red Wedge, The Museum of Americana, About Place Journal, The American Journal of Poetry, The Windward Review, Tapestry, and Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal. His 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. He also teaches Literature and Creative Writing in the master’s program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. For more information, visit octavioquintanilla.com.
ECU students participating in the festival will read at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 3, in the timeslot before Barbara Crooker. In addition, winners of the 17th annual R. Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest, which recognizes Oklahoma high school authors, have been announced and are available at ecuscissortail.blogspot.com. This contest is held annually in conjunction with the festival.
The Scissortail Creative Writing Festival is supported annually by East Central University, the ECU Foundation, and the Oklahoma Arts Council. For more information, contact Hada at 580-559-5557 or visit www.ecok.edu/scissortail or ecuscissortail.blogspot.com.