Saturday, April 4, 2009

Scissortail 2009

Featured readers Rilla Askew (below on the left), Elmer Kelton (in the middle), and LeAnne Howe (on the right) read alongside ECU English department faculty Ken Hada (Scissortail Director), Josh Grasso, Hugh Tribbey, Mark Walling, John Yozzo and more than 40 others, inspiring more than 800 listeners at ECU's 4th annual Scissortail Festival, held on campus Thursday, Friday and Saturday.


  1. Listening to others read what they have written is a spiritual tonic. It is easy to forget (especially if you are as much of an isolate as I am)that there are people out there who share-- if the not the same, similar, or at least coplanar--ideas, feelings, disappointments, moments of wonder, which they have crystallized in the crucible of their poetry or short fiction.

    As I listened to Dr. Yozzo read his poetry,it occured to me that despite the doctorate and thirty-plus years of differing background, education, etc which separates us, there is a commonality to our experience that poetry is able to foreground in a way that nothing else quite can. Yozzo's poems, as much as they were about the feelings and experiences of Yozzo, were just as much my experiences, my feelings (and, I suspect, those of most of the audience as well.) This is the real test of literature, in the end: does make us feel less alone?

    I listened to a dozen readers, a dozen versions of myself, and felt less alone.

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  3. I attended the Friday, April 3rd 9:30-10:45 reading. The authors were suppose to be Melissa Morphew—Sam Houston State U. Wedding Borges’ Garden. Gordon Greene—Midwest City, Oklahoma Why Don’t Elephants Play Tennis?, And Alvin Turner—East Central University Hanging Men. However, Melissa Morphew couldn’t attend, so Dr. Mark Walling, from ECU English Dept., filled in for her. Dr. Walling read first and this was interesting for I’ve had Dr. Walling in three classes before and am very familiar with him. So hearing him read his own work was different from hearing the other authors because I know him, and that was cool. If Dr. Walling’s book was turned into a movie it would get an ‘R’ rating. In movies if you use the ‘F’ word more than 3x’s it automatically gets an ‘R’ rating. He likes the ‘F’ word I noticed. But his story was very raw, very good. I was tempted to ask him if it was for sale, I really enjoyed it. He concluded his story right at a scenes climax, leaving the audience hanging. I wanted more. The next author was Gordon Greene. He read a short story, two poems, and a short essay. During his reading of his shot story Why Don’t Elephants Play Tennis? He really got into it. The story was really griping and had a few tearjerker moments. Some people in the audience even drew tears. Gordon actually started crying while reading. It became really real. He is a great public speaker. The last and final speaker was Alvin Turner. Now poor Alan, this guy put me to sleep. He was a cute little old man, and made a few of the audience chuckle, but he as mono tone and I yawned too many times. I tried to keep from it but this story was more like a bedtime lullaby then an interesting award winning tale.
    On a side note I’m very glad that you assigned this extra credit assignment. Normally I wouldn’t have even tried to go. All the times listed were either during one of my classes or interfered with my work schedule. With this assignment being worth extra credit it motivated me to rearrange my schedule to go to this. Now that I have I’m really glad I did. I enjoyed this experience and had a pretty good time. There is nothing like watch an author reading their own works, seeing the pride in their faces as they speak, and hearing a story come to life. If I had to pick a favorite, even though Gordon Greene had the best speaking voice for this kind of thing, Dr. Mark Walling’s story was the most enjoyable. Now I don’t know if this is because I’m biased because I know him that I feel this way, but his story was really enjoyable and I wanted to hear more. If a story can make you yearn for more than you know it must be good. I found myself feeling like I was in the story and apart of the scenes. It came alive to me and that was well worth going to this festival. If one book can come alive for you and let you enter an alternative world, than its well worth it to have this festival and now I’m a fan and a supporter of the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival and will continue to go to these reading as much as I can now. Thanks for assigning this to us, it was cool.

  4. Bryson Vann:
    I was able to attend four of the sessions at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival. The first two were Thursday morning, April 2, in the Estep Center, from 9:30 to 10:45, and from 11:00 to 12:15. I really enjoyed all of the authors that I heard on Thursday, especially Dr. Yozzo. It really is quite a unique experience to connect with the authors on an emotional level and transcend the existing gap that separates us as students from the highly trained professionals. The third and fourth sessions that I witnessed were on Saturday. The first was at 8:30 in the North Lounge. All of the writers that spoke here were excellent. Dr. Hada opened with “Spare Parts”, and gave one of the best performances that I was able to observe; providing an inspirational example of Creative Writing at its best, created and composed with form, talent, and style. The second session that I attended on Saturday was in the Estep Center at 10:00. I was especially fond of Dr. Grasso’s “Unpacking”. All of the authors that I saw in the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival gave superior performances. I highly anticipate attending the festival again next year and feel very privileged that Dr. Hada, along with East Central University provides this opportunity.