Kansas Book Festival held at Washburn


photos by Tiana Smith

Poet Michael Kleber-Diggs shares his experiences with teaching poetry and writing programs for prisoners. He shared stories from his students and the effects that writing had on them.


On Sept. 24, the Kansas Book Festival was held at Washburn University. The festival brought the reading and publishing community of Kansas together, and was sponsored by organizations such as Humanities Kansas, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, Paper Plains and others.

The festival started with 2022 Kansas Notable Book awards in Mabee Library where 15 Notable awards were handed out to standout Kansas authors. Following the event, separate sessions were held with award-winning author Michael Kleber-Diggs, author Randal Jelks and poet Tracy Brimhall, where they talked about their experiences and art.

There were conversations regarding such diverse topics as the future of Native Americans, the impact of populism and socialism, child perspective, dealing with disability, experiences with teaching poetry in prison and so much more. The Kansas Book Festival had a wide range of programs within itself.

The book festival was held in front of Memorial Union, where 30 exhibitors from organizations such as the University Press of Kansas, Meadowlark Books, the Kansas Authors Club and more were present with their publications.

The exhibitors were divided into booths where different genres of novels and magazines were displayed. They also provided opportunities for free skill shops and programs focused on creative writing.

“The exhibitors include individual authors and regional presses that have books from the area and include nonprofits,” said Tim Bascom, the executive director of the event. “There’s one that collects boxes to put into jails in their libraries to create libraries with jails from prisons called ‘Liberate Book Project.'”

Indoor programs included keynote presentations inside Washburn A&B in the Memorial Union. Presentations by the Culpable Community, nonfiction writers Megan Kaminski and Sara Dykman, Lucas Bessire and many others were given until 3 p.m. in the afternoon.

Starting at 11 a.m, outdoor performances included acoustic music by the Church Ladies, children’s entertainment, jazz by Doug Talley and Friends and rock music by Bad Astra.

Book art exhibitions in the Mulvane Museum and Mabee Library entrances displayed handmade books and paintings from “The Fine Arts of Ruth Fisher.”

The Kansas Book Festival hosted a variety of events on campus, giving the community an exceptional opportunity to understand the literary as well as presentational dynamics of Kansas. The festival is hosted annually.

Edited by LeSha’ Davis, Justin Shepard