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Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry is the only one of its kind in the US

Roxann Perkins Yates / Red Dirt Report
Visitors play poker poetry at ROMP.
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LOCUST GROVE, Okla. - A revered place of the poetry muses can be found in Northeastern Oklahoma. The Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry (ROMP) sits on a wooded backdrop and is open whenever you want to visit.

"ROMP celebrates the first literary art in the world and its continuing need in the lives of people everywhere," said Shaun Perkins, director, creator, and curator of one of the two poetry museums in the entire U.S. The other is in Washington D.C.

This 501(c)3 nonprofit charity began when Perkins had a dream urging her to create a place for everyone to enjoy and be inspired by poetry.

"Instead of having the traditional stark and antiseptic displays found in most museums, at ROMP you will find ways to interact with and personalize poetry,” said Perkins. “From the block poetry table where you put the words on blocks together to the secret corner where poetry lives in images and words and ideas all around you, the displays ask you to be creative and have fun with words and life through poetry.”

A small red metal building tucked into the woods on family property houses the museum.

"It used to be my dad’s garage or machine shop, as we always called it. He generously gave up the shop so the family could have a library and extra living space on our property. Then, the library morphed into the museum. The museum–inside and outside–continues to change," Perkins said.

"Museum goers can view the autograph book poetry exhibit, play poetry poker, assemble block poetry, read Craig's List poems [composed from ads at the website], answer telephone calls from Emily Dickinson, and engage in a poem cache treasure hunt," Perkins said.

Roadside America notes that ROMP is "a little interactive museum in a converted machine shop/shed, reportedly even odder than Oklahoma's Tom Mix Museum." On a side note, Perkins, who lived for 17 years in Bartlesville, worked for a few years at the quirky Tom Mix Museum, where she says her love of small museums probably developed.

The museum is open anytime a person wants to visit. Monthly events are scheduled, but visitors are encouraged any day of the week. “Just call ahead if you want and I’ll make sure the lights are on and dust bunnies corralled,” Perkins said.

In addition to the museum, ROMP also has a ROMP Shop, across the pasture from the museum. This Shop has a poet’s retreat, which people can book stays in, a workshop and a gift shop that sells local items, including the ROMP mascot doll, created by Tulsa storyteller Kareth Bodman Moore.

In 2013, the NPR show State of the Re:Union (SOTRU) an NPR program, visited the museum and did a short piece about it. This piece can be heard at here.

ROMP also has an outreach component, and Perkins takes the show on the road for workshops, performances and more. She has set up to do poems-in-a-minute in several locations including the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa.

"Give me three words and I'll use my manual typewriter to create a personal poem," she said. "I have done this many times with great success and people walk away with an awesome gift. I take up very little space and the sound of the manual typewriter is definitely soothing to the ear."

Perkins, an Oklahoma Arts Council Teaching Artist, does workshops and events throughout the state, spreading the word about her museum, which being in rural northeastern Oklahoma, sometimes struggles to entice visitors.

One way Perkins is getting the word out about ROMP is by going on the road with a one-woman show called Poem Life, a live show that combines autobiographical elements, audience interaction, audio and visual components and the journey through seven crimes of poetry. The opening night is March 21, at Locust Grove’s VFW Hall. Perkins is looking for venues across the state in which to perform the show.

Check out all of the ROMP events at ROMPoetry.com. Poetry is not just for the academic world. Poetry is for all people.

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About the Author

Roxann Perkins Yates

Roxann Perkins is a teacher, writer, poet, and an amateur smartphone photographer. She lives in...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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