Victoria McArtor, co-founder of MUSED., emcees a beat poetry reading. (Provided)

TULSA — “Putting poetry back into the affairs of the people” is the simple, straightforward mission of MUSED., a new nonprofit in Tulsa. The organization’s co-founder, Victoria McArtor, who recently received her MFA in creative writing from Oklahoma State University, hopes MUSED. will help change public attitude toward poetry and encourage creativity and dialogue.

“Poets are thought of as kind of obscure,” she said. “They’re on an island, talking about our world, but few people are listening. We want to help poets speak truth back into our society.”

McArtor plans for the organization to hold public workshops and readings for adults as well as create arts programming in Tulsa Public Schools.

“As arts education funding is consistently being cut, we want to subsidize a poetry program,” she said.

John Regur, MUSED.’s second co-founder, said he believes in the organization’s mission and the enthusiasm behind it.

“This is a project of passion,” Regur said. “I believe in the mission and in Victoria to make it happen.”

Timothy Bradford of Oklahoma City’s Short Order Poems said he likes McArtor’s business sense, something the poetry world often ignores.

“She’s a talented poet, and I’m all for anything that seeks to put poetry back into the affairs of the people,” said Bradford. “However, that’s a tricky thing. No one wants to be spoon-fed poetry or be made to eat it like bad veggies, and when poetry has to compete with Netflix/Spotify/Instagram, well, that’s tough. I’m looking forward to seeing what tricks Victoria comes up with.”

Victoria McArtor, co-founder of MUSED., speaks with students during an Anti-Bully Collaboration rally. (Provided)
Victoria McArtor, co-founder of MUSED., speaks with students during an Anti-Bully Collaboration rally. (Provided)

Outreach to all walks of life

Late last year, MUSED. set up two typewriters at the Bullying Prevention Rally in Tulsa. On one typewriter, youth were invited to write a line describing how it feels to be bullied. On the second, kids could write how it feels to realize you’re bullying someone. McArtor said the revelations were amazing.

“You saw kids easily type something on the first typewriter, but on the second — the one about bullying someone else — they had to sit there and think about it,” she said. “One kid likened the experience to sitting on a block of ice while handcuffed to someone else who is doing the bullying.”


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In December, MUSED. asked the community via Facebook to send poems that they could in turn give to the less fortunate during the holidays. They then printed the poems onto heavy paper, tied them with a bow, and delivered them with fudges around Tulsa to the homeless, at a retirement community, at the John 3:16 Mission, and to gas station and grocery workers.

Looking ahead, MUSED. will work with high school students in 2016 on a project called Reverse Selfie, also the title of McArtor’s first book of poetry.

“The hope is not only to impact people to engage more with poetry, but also to teach extrinsic thinking — to increase the capacity for empathy,” said McArtor. The program will last for four to six weeks in each school and will include visual art elements. “We also have an ambassador of early childhood development at MUSED. who will be teaching poetry to Head Start kiddos.”

The organization is also developing poetry programs for Camp Fire students, adults recently released from jail, and adults at LIFE Senior Services.

“We want to reach those still in the womb, in school, during their transitions, their celebrations, their tragedies, and as they end their journeys. Once we get people thinking in poetry and talking in poetry, I believe we will be sharper critical thinkers, better empathizers, and will have a higher standard for our social consciousness,” she said.

Happenings throughout February in Tulsa

If you’re not out looking for a traditional relationship this Valentine’s Day, you might consider Exes and Oh No’s, the organization’s first fundraiser, Feb. 14 in Tulsa. Billed as anti-Valentine’s Day, the event will feature readings of Charles Bukowski’s decidedly anti-romantic poetry as well as a poetry writing competition with prizes from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Mix Co.

Also during the month of February, MUSED. will offer privately hosted Reverse Selfie workshops — think Tupperware party, but with poetry instead of food containers — to raise money for their organization. MUSED. will hold the workshops in homes and businesses, asking participants for a small donation that will sponsor one student for the in-school workshop. For more information on hosting a Reverse Selfie poetry workshop, email McArtor at