WoodyFest is proud to work with the Woody Guthrie Poets Coordinating Committee in conjunction with our festival each year!

At the root of every song and the backbone of the impressive catalogue of literary works that Woody created during his life, is a collection of words written from the heart. WoodyFest is once again pleased to present a roster of talented poets to share their work throughout this years event. Each year, the WoodyFest poets aim to memorialize in poetry the history and culture of working people and perpetuate the ideals, goals of equality for the working class, and themes that Woody Guthrie espoused and promoted in his art.

2018 Woody Guthrie Poetry Readings
** Submissions Closed **
THEME: “What Are We Waiting On?”


Woody Guthrie was born on July 14th, 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma and reared in Oklahoma. He was a champion of the disenfranchised, minorities and the working class, a colorful and beloved folk hero. He was part of a primitive tradition, carried through the ages by common people to express their joy and anger and frustrations through music. Their drudgery and occasional triumphs. Their intense independence.

Over the decades, his songs have run around the world. They’ve become the folk song standards of the nation, known and performed in many languages throughout the world. Hundreds of his songs that have become staples in the canon of American music.

But Woody Guthrie was more than a balladeer, more than a songster, more than a poet and more than the entertainer he often portrayed. He was a radical socialist activist on behalf of working people, the poor, and the disenfranchised. He was a Socialist and at times a Communist. Most of the time, he was enraged by the inequality, the bigotry, the injustice and the oppression he saw around him in this country. Through his songs and poetry, he protested the inequality he saw and registered his resistance to the injustice and mistreatment of his fellow humans.


THE THEME* for 2018 is taken from Woodys song What Are We Waiting On? The chorus of the song appeals to people to take immediate action to overthrow terrorism, political threats, injustice, and corruption. His chorus asks, Good people, what are we waiting on? And that is precisely the question we should all be asking in these tumultuous times: Good people, what are we waiting on?

Poems for this years readings should express the idea of taking action to eliminate the existence of social and political corruption and threats, nationally as well as globally. Good people, the time is now to act against terrorism, corruption, and injustice. We can take this action in many ways: calling attention to injustice, protesting injustice, working for change, encouraging others with hopefulness and inspiration for making change. There are many ways to actively work to make the world a better place! Make poems about any of these ways!


In conjunction with the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, Oklahoma, July 11-15, 2018, the Woody Guthrie Poetry Group (Woody Poets) who have read poetry as part of the celebration since 2005, will again perform on Friday evening, 13 July in Oklahoma City; on Saturday, 14 July in Okemah; and on Sunday afternoon, 15 July at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa. In addition, there may be a reading on Thursday evening, 12 July, in Shawnee with a featured reader and an open mic. No anthology will be published this year, but copies of the 2017 anthology, Aint Gonna Be Treated This Way (Village Books Press), will be available for purchase at the readings, as well as at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Submissions for 2018 Closed May 1st, 2018.