Day 2, & already so great that if I had gone home last night the trip would have been worth it -- but there is much more to come. But 2 concurrent sessions in the morning & 2 concurrent sessions in the afternoon are more than a single person can attend (some folks who are here as a couple actually split it up). I opted for the morning sessions in the Estep Auditorium, the first MC’ed by English professor Mindie Dieu (who was also helping out at the book table, where I first encountered her).
Oklahoma Labor Fest. Throughout the Scissortail Festival she wore a large silver peace symbol on a chain around her neck. She read 2 moving segments from a memoir about her son dying of AIDS, beautifully written as only a poet used to dealing in images could do.
The second author, Bayard Godsave, from Cameron University, also read a prose piece, this a grim science-fiction piece set in Paris after a global nuclear war, full of sickness & death.
The next reading session, introduced by ECU professor & novelist Jim Hunter, was less grim.
There was a schedule change for the mid-day featured reading when the scheduled writer had to cancel at the last minute, so Ken adroitly moved up a couple of the afternoon readers.
After lunch at La Fiesta Mexican restaurant, 7 poets all talking at once, good food & cheap beer, back for the afternoon readings in the North Lounge.
Jason Roberts read a prose piece, “Donovan,” that he said was inspired by a song by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils; the story told by a young boy who catches his mother banging the title character.
High school teacher Jordan Jacobs poems, which he said were “mostly new,” were filled with longing & love, but with an often grim view, as in “I Like My Coffee Like I Like My Women: Barefoot & Pregnant,” or “A Thing Better” about a crush on a bartender. He’s young, he’ll get over it (or not), & hopefully continue to write poems.
Jim Hunter was doing the intros for the next session, also in the North Lounge. He is a novelist who I first met last year hanging out in a bar in Ada, also had lived in NYC (& New Jersey) & now teaches at ECU. He was also in the group that I ran into in the lobby of the hotel that ended up over beers & pizza at Papa Gjorjo’s (more on that later). Unfortunately, I missed his reading -- choices, choices.
Phil Estes, a younger poet, was more edgy, with modern poems filled with free association, & he was loud. He included a series of short prose poems based on movie titles, but not necessarily about the movies themselves. His “Oklahoma poems” included one about a pit-bull tied outside a house in his neighborhood, & an attempt at a real nature poem, a pond near his home, “Oklahoma Larks, Phoenixes, Albatrosses.”
& then it was time for a break -- lots of words to process, a long table of books to peruse, & time for a beer.