April 22, 2019
The evening reading & recognition of Undergraduate Writers was held in Estep auditorium. Alan Berecka had served as judge of the multi-genre contest. In response to what he had read he read his own funny poem titled “Hard Drive” about an old college notebook he found that was full of, as he put it, “whiney poetry.”
From there we gathered at The Grandview on Ada’s Main St., a spacious, open community center, with jazz music, beer, wine, snacks, a student open mic & more conversation with poets. I was pleased to have some time to talk with Susan Sturman about Imogen Holst & the classical music biz in general. Returning to my hotel room I realized I was so over-whelmed by these 2 days of incredible poetry, prose, even music, that I couldn’t bring myself to read, even from the stack of books I’d purchased, not even my own poems.
There was one more morning of Scissortail left.
April 21, 2019
Lunch was expanding tables at the Blue Moon with lively conversations crossing over each other & the best fried green tomatoes I've had, a chance to talk to some of the poets I'd missed earlier. Then back to the ECU campus for one last test of our abilities to make choices, North Lounge or Estep.
All that was left of this day was the evening reading & performance & a party. Check back soon for that.
April 18, 2019
Back for another day of readings at this “Listening Festival,” as Sally Rhoades has christened it, in the Estep Auditorium.
For the 2nd half of the morning I went to North Lounge. Don Stinson read some poems from his book Flatline Horizon (Mongrel Empire Press, 2018), including one about hearing of a truck bombing in Berlin around the same time as the shooting in San Bernardino, then a couple poems from Paris, including one dedicated to Jim Morrison of the Doors “Lizard King.” He also read from a new manuscript tentatively titled “Black Dog” which is a metaphor for depression; also, poems of spiritual exploration “Trinity” & “Download” (in which the Holy Spirit is a megabyte).
Like I’ve said a couple times, at Scissortail there are always poets I miss because I’m listening to poets someplace else. But fortunately there are events, like lunch, where I did get a chance to talk to some of the poets whose readings I missed. & there was more to come in the afternoon & evening.
April 16, 2019
The evening reading was held in the Ataloa Theatre in the Hallie Brown Ford Arts Center on the East Central University campus & was by the United States Poet Laureate for 2017 - 2019 Tracy K. Smith.
Steve Benton, Director of the University Honors Program, gave the introduction to Laureate Smith’s reading, an introduction that was based on a close, sensitive reading of her books, not just the glowing, admiring generalizations that often infect such introductions.
As the best readings do, this evening opened my eyes to new work I hadn’t been familiar with, as well as a poet, Yi Lei, that I’m looking forward to reading.
April 14, 2019
The afternoon sessions were an exercise in making a choice — 2 time slots, each with 2 sessions each, one in North Lounge, the other in Estep. For example, I read at 2:00PM in North Lounge, while my traveling companion Sally Rhoades read at the same time in Estep Auditorium. So you were always going to miss someone.
I was the first reader at 2:00 in North Lounge & read my series of 5 baseball poems, for which A.P.D. (Albany’s Poetic Disorder) published a brief chapbook, Baseball Poems, which you can still get when you see me at readings, or by mail (email me for information).
Back across the way to Estep Auditorium for the final afternoon session of the day for 4 more writers.
I love how the folks creating this festival pair up us writers, our themes, images, styles bumping up against each other, as on a crowded dance floor, different styles, over-lapping themes, but always about the human character, our own or that of others.
We broke for dinner, with the reading by US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith set for the evening.
April 10, 2019
Back in Ada, Oklahoma at East Central University for the annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, to which I manage to get to every-other-year. I flew down from Albany with poet Sally Rhoades to the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City & drove the 90 miles or so to Ada on Wednesday. We joined about 20 or so other writers at Polo’s Mexican Restaurant to greet old friends, make new ones, eat, drink, & talk, talk, talk.
The next morning at ECU there were more old friends gathered around as the book sale table(s) were set up. It’s been 2 years since I was last here so it felt like a family reunion rather than a literary conference. The morning readings were held in the Estep Auditorium, while in the afternoon there were split, competing sessions in Estep & across the way in the North Lounge.
At this point, when we broke for lunch, I was already feeling like the long trip here was well worth it. My reading was yet to come in the afternoon.
More information about the festival can be found here: http://ecuscissortail.blogspot.com/
April 2, 2019
The Winter has been tough on this monthly series with storms tending toward mid-week, but with astrological Spring here I was bold enough to venture out to Troy, to Elixir16Troy for what was billed as “2 Poets 1 Night” hosted by R.M. Engelhardt & James H. Duncan. But then it turned out to be 1 poet & 1 host & a bare handful of open mic poets, even without a snowstorm.
R.M. Engelhardt started us off with an invocation, a poem in Robert Service rhyme & meter “Don Quixote.” I followed with 2 short poems reacting to reading the poetry of Paul Pines then “Reading Mary Oliver while Masturbating” appropriating lines from her poems. Gloria Manthos, whom I usually see at Caffè Lena, began with a poem reminiscent of one by Lawrence Ferlinghetti “The Anxiety of Waiting” with its recurring line “I am waiting for…” then a poem about her ancestry, her family, what she termed “a border poem,” “Bloodlines.”
Carol Durant read new stuff, a poem with a bit of neighborhood humor “Tick Tock,” then one titled “Revealed.” Rob was back to read John Milton’s “Sonnet 19,” then a piece on the ones we have lost “A Conversation: Friends & Angels.”
The Troy Poetry Mission happens on the last Wednesday of the month at Elixir16Troy, 45 2nd Street, Troy, NY, listed as 7:30PM in the publicity but doesn’t get going until about 8:00PM, adult beverages are available, but no elevator for those of you who are challenged by stairs.