DEWEY–The director of the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry (ROMP) is coming to town, and she has some Bartlesville connections. Shaun Perkins, who founded ROMP in 2012 in rural Locust Grove, lived in Bartlesville from 1988 to 2005, and is coming to be a part of Poetry Night at the Heritage Theatre in Dewey on Dec. 21.
Poetry Night is an open mic poetry event hosted by Morris McCorvey and including a featured poet each month. Guests can have drinks, dinner or snacks from Gizzy’s Eatery when they attend.
“I’m excited and can’t help being a bit proud to have Shaun as our featured guest at the December poetry night,” McCorvey said. “She is the author of several collections of fine, thought-provoking verse.”
Perkins taught English at both the mid-high and the high school and for many years at the RSU-Bartlesville campus, teaching courses on everything from World Literature to Composition to Vocabulary. In 1994, she was the Teacher of the Year at BHS.
While living in Bartlesville, Perkins became friends with fellow poet Morris McCorvey, who hosts the monthly poetry night event.
“Morris and I often had a rivalry going with local poetry contests,” said Perkins. “Since then, he has been kind enough to judge poetry contests I’ve held when I was teaching and also now with the contests I have through the museum.”
Perkins intends to read some of McCorvey’s own poems as a part of the event. She will also share poems she has written for the museum’s 2020 exhibit Justice Not Roses: 100 Years of a Woman’s Right to Vote.
“The anniversary of the 19th amendment is coming up next year, so the museum is going to feature a celebration in images and poetry around that theme all year,”
Perkins hopes that old colleagues, friends and students in Bartlesville will show up for the poetry event.
“It would be awesome to see some of the people I used to work with or taught. They may not recognize me with grey hair, but I’m still a loud mouth and show off, so that will be apparent,” Perkins said.
“I have fond memories of Bartlesville, as I moved there for my very first teaching job. I had wonderful mentors in three women: Maxine Kaiser, Lola Kelley and Virgia Barnes, who all taught at the high school at the time. I also got to live in a wonderful old house downtown on Wyandotte Street for many years,” said Perkins.
In addition to teaching in Bartlesville, Perkins also worked for a time at the Tom Mix Museum in Dewey, which is where she said she developed her love for small museums.
“I thought of the Tom Mix Museum when I started ROMP. The poetry museum is a tiny and humble place, but it can create a huge experience for people who visit. I also enjoyed how people interacted with Tom Mix’s history at that museum. I wanted the same interaction with poetry at mine,” Perkins said.
A recent KTUL series with Burt Mummolo called Traveling Oklahoma visited the Tom Mix Museum, on the advice of Perkins, after Mummolo filmed a segment at ROMP.
“I told Burt he needed to go to Dewey and see the Tom Mix Museum, and it was right up his alley,” Perkins said.