Washburn lecturer speaks at Kansas Book Festival

Emily Kobzar

The 2017 Kansas Book Festival featured Dennis Etzel Jr., Washburn lecturer, as one of its 20 guest speakers. 

Free to the public, the event was held at 10 a.m. Sept. 9 at the Kansas State Capitol Building. 

“Fast Food Sonnets,” Etzel’s new book of poetry, is about his coming of age story and what it was like working for a big fast food chain like McDonalds.

“I’ve worked on them from 2003 through 2015, and many of them were published by literary magazines around Kansas,” Etzel said.

Etzel emphasized the importance of standing up for people who make minimum wage and the many problems which arise, such as race, social class and gender. This socio-economic struggle is something he wants to be able to connect with others about, whether they have personally shared in these experiences or not.

“I am just thankful to be able to have a book about my experiences,” Etzel said.

Etzel has been to the Kansas Book Festival in the past to see friends who had won the Kansas Notable Book Award and to explore what other works of Kansas literature were being featured.

Etzel said that he plans to continue attending the festival for the foreseeable future.

Under the leadership of Mary Brownback, the festival has existed in Topeka since 2011. The proceeds generated from the festival are donated each year to various public schools and libraries across Kansas.

This year, the Kansas Book Festival featured its first ever writing contest, which was designed for students in grades 3 through 12.

Outside booths were set up with numerous publishers, authors and non-profits. Throughout the day, authors had scheduled book readings and signings in the Senate Chamber.

Food vendors present at the event included Fuzzy’s Tacos, as well as YoungLives, a group within Young Life, who served coffee and breakfast that morning. 

For information on the 2018 Kansas Book Festival, visit kansasbookfestival.