LOCUST GROVE, Okla. (KFOR) – Choosing words and steps carefully, Shaun Perkins opens the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry every day as soon as it’s light.
There are treasures inside.
Her museum started with a small light in the darkness.
“That’s one of the reasons I come in here, is to see what people have written and left for me,” she says.
Shaun’s museum started with a literal light in the darkness.
“I had a dream at night that I had a poetry museum and it was full of poetry machines.”
Her poetry ‘machines’ are simple pen and paper and whatever pours out of the visitors who come through.
“Womanhood is courage,” recites one high school poet. “It is bravery and strength.”
Today, it’s a group of students from Bluejacket High School who wander in to see her latest exhibit on 20 women who impacted the Suffragist movement in America.
Perkins insists, “Some of these women were poets like Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.”
She also operates a writer’s retreat next door to her museum complete with tools for crafting words, books for ideas and a bedroom designed to look like Emily Dickinson’s.
“Who comes here,” queries a visitor?
“Everybody,” says Perkins. “If you’re looking on a map, this place just pops up and people wonder, ‘What the heck is that?'”
Shaun has been lots of things in her interesting life, including teacher, taxi driver, truck dispatcher and coffee slinger.
“I’ve written poetry as long as I can remember.”
Her sister Kelly runs a coffee shop and reading room in downtown Locust Grove.
Perkins says, “The mission of the museum is to allow everyone to have an experience with poetry. We created a space where that can happen.”
The poetry of struggle, the nourishment of a good place to read it and the inspiration to write it.
A century ago the women of Oklahoma won their struggle to take part in democracy.
It changed everything, everywhere, even in this small clearing in Mayes County where we can all celebrate the occasion.