April 12, 2017

Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Thursday, April 6 — Afternoon Sessions

The afternoon readings were characterized by 2 sessions, each with 2 competing programs, one in the Estep Auditorium, the other across the way in the North Lounge — choices, choices. I opted for the North Lounge for both sessions.

Steve Petersen served as MC for the first session, & the first reader was novelist George McCormick from Cameron University in Lawton, OK whom I had heard read in past Scissortails. He read “new pages” as he described them from a novel in-progress, "Saints," a working-class story of a film-maker & his memories of Lawton & the roadside shrines.

Sarah Webb, from Burnet, TX is also a writer I have heard at earlier Scissortail festivals. Today she read a cluster of poems with the Moon in them, many, as she said, “ordinary,” others more “fantastical,” such as “Climbing the Sky,” another about the goddess “The One Who Slings Us Around,” & “What the Fox Said” (what’s true/not true). A couple poems focused on poets, “Whittling the Moon” about letting the poems come & “Barefoot” with the poet walking on holy ground.

Although this was Jim Benton’s first time reading at the festival, he had been here previously & began with some tribute poems to Scissortail, including one on the different reading styles of the writers, then a long, dramatic piece for Naomi Shihab Nye (who was the featured poet last year), & the satirical “This Poem Comes with Written Instructions for Reading It Aloud.” He also read poems from his “Okie Odyssey,” riffing on Woody Guthrie, then a couple poems on his father (referencing Homer's Odyssey) & grandfather & a couple poems set in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Sarah Peters did the intros for the second session in North Lounge, with Tom Murphy, from Corpus Christi, Texas the first writer up. He began with a love poem, “My Whisper” & his reading ranged far & wide from that, from a descriptive tanka “Mesquite,” to a piece that began with naked outdoor sex that moved on to images of Native genocide victims, to a funny, political piece about cloning Hitler “They Found One Tit Hair,” to the complex eco-poem “Sacred Waters, even a villanelle, & yet another reference to The Odyssey “Wedding Dress.”

Carol Coffee Reposa usually reads her poems at the festival, but today read a personal essay “Incident at a Party: The Help Meets Gone with the Wind, 1983,” a complex memoir of growing up in a racially segregated town in East Texas, & the repercussions later, with overtones of class & role-reversals, that generated much discussion later hanging out for happy hour. & a brave piece to write & to read.

Richard Dixon from Oklahoma City read a couple memoir-based essays, “Winding Stair” about a trip to rural South Eastern Oklahoma, thinking back to his childhood, to country music, & “Shingles” another mix of memory & a current description sparked by watching roofers on a church roof across from his office.

More to come.

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