By Justin Lofton
ADA — The fifth annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival began Thursrday at East Central University. Featured writer Joy Harjo read Thursday evening at 6:30 at Ataloa Theater inside Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center.
Tonight, the other featured writer, Oklahoma’s poet laureate, Jim Barnes, will be reading at 6:30 in the Ataloa Theater.
Barnes said he’s enjoyed the festival and looks forward to reading at the Ataloa Theater. According to Barnes, “ataloa,” means, “poetry.”
Barnes said he left his native Oklahoma after high school to go Missouri. After 33 years there, he went to Utah and finally came back to his home state.
“I’ve been gone so long, when I came back, nobody remembered me. So they made me poet laureate,” he said.
He said he’s read his poetry at several events but stopped keeping count at 150.
ECU professor, poet and organizer of the first Scissortail Festival, Hugh Tribbey, said the festival is coming along nicely and growing every year.
“It’s kind of grown exponentially every year,” he said. “It’s going quite well.”
Tribbey said the festival has seen better funding from grants as it becomes more established. He said he’s enjoyed reading for the audience that gathers at ECU’s festival.
“It’s a laid-back group. They’re quite tolerant,” he said.
Tribbey read a selection of his poems Thursday at session six of the festival, along with poets Jennifer Kidney and Marcella Remund at the Estep center.
The festival will continue to Saturday and is free and open to the public. Several writers also have books available for purchase at the festival.