April 12, 2013

Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, April 6 -- Finale

Some of the Award Winners

One of the features of this Festival is the Annual R. Darryl Fisher Creative Writing Contest in poetry & fiction for high school students in Oklahoma -- see the link for the list of winners. Traditionally the awards are presented to the students at the final reading of the Festival. Ken Hada served as M/C, with awards being presented by Dr. Wahling (fiction) & Dr. Grasso (poetry), with brief remarks by Dr. Fisher himself for whom the awards were named.

Walter Bargen was the Festival's last reader & he was Missouri's first Poet Laureate in 2008. He was also the only reader here to wear a tie (but that just to be contrary). He began by telling us about his interview with the Republican governor of Missouri before being appointed Poet Laureate, with the warning not to embarrass the governor. Oh well, we all know Poets (& Poet Laureates) can be embarrassing. He then read a love poem "Yet Other Waters" on a theme by Heraclitus. His other poems were about aging & vacation RVs ("Forced Busing"), a tornado, a trucking accident ("Trucking Confessions") & a poem combining references to Abbie Hoffman, The Who & Woodstock with a father & daughter both with broken ankles. He returned to his role as Poet Laureate with a funny story of a radio interview & the equally funny poem "Poet as Grand Marshall of a Fall Parade." I bought a copy of his book Days Like This Are Necessary: New & Selected Poems (BkMk Press, 2009) so I could continue to explore the work of this interesting poet.

And that was it, except for the extended, serial good-byes. I hope to be back again & in the meantime plan to delve further into the work of the great variety of writers I heard in the last few days, both new & old friends.

But I would be remiss in my reporting if I did not comment on one of the great charms (among many) of the Scissortail Festival: the book table. Filled with the mostly small press wares of the poets & other writers reading it is a literary smorgasbord for all tastes & sensibilities. The table is run as a service for the writers reading here, with the writers/publishers getting the full fare, with no consignment fee, by Dr. Eril Hughes & her flock of young students. For those represented by major publishers there is a separate end of the table run by a local bookstore. & of course after the readings there were lines to get books signed. I bought some books, as did everyone I talked to, & I signed some of my books bought by folks who had been at my reading. I was very pleased with my sales but more by the ease of the process, the friendly smiles from the young women at the book table & by Dr. Hughes' adept control over the whole process.

Thank you, ECU for sponsoring the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival each year -- go Tigers!

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