MY ART STORY by

Shaun Perkins

Locust Grove
Oklahoma

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Woman at a table with a typewriter talking to a group of students

Shaun Perkins, director of the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry, writes poems in a minute at the Woody Guthrie Center, Tulsa. Photo by Roxann Yates

The arts have always been a part of my life, but they became my life in 2011, when I began planning the creation of the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry in my small hometown of Locust Grove. In September, 2012, the museum opened, and it has been a blessing every since then. It is a blessing for me, my family who helped me open it and keep it running, my community of Locust Grove that is a close, friendly and supportive place to live, my arts mentors and friends from across the state, and the world that is affected by the presence of the museum on the Internet and through correspondence.

The arts are a part of my daily life as I grow the museum and spread the word about the unique experience it offers. In this capacity, I became an Oklahoma Arts Council teaching artist to spread the love of poetry in schools, organizations, and businesses and at festivals, other museums and conferences.

The arts make a difference in my family by allowing us to deepen our bonds with the communal experience of sharing and participating together in a number of artistic endeavors, including writing and reading poetry and fiction, storytelling, creating visual and 3-dimensional art, working on our town's arts alliance, and being open to the possibilities that art bring to our lives and being willing to share that with others.

My vision for ROMP is that it is a place where people can have an experience of poetry. That is unique. That is the transforming mission of the place and what many people have given me feedback about after they visited. Art is about creation . . . and maybe even more than that--Art is about being open to the life force that wants to flow and generate from us into the world in ways that make life worth living.

Students at a table in a big room