Creative writing faculty perform at Carole Chapel

Ryan Thompson

“Think of Topeka as a Broadway show that only you can keep from opening,” said Eric McHenry, reading from his poem “how can i.”

Three faculty members from the English department read their work at Carole Chapel on April 27.

Eric McHenry, associate professor, Louise Krug, assistant professor and Dennis Etzel Jr., lecturer, read from their most recent published work, exposing the audience to vastly different material.

“At Washburn we bring in visiting writers each year to expose our students to new and different work and also the personalities behind that work,” McHenry explained. “This year, we were talking about what writers we wanted to invite to campus and one of the things we realized was that we had three members of the English faculty who had new books coming out this year.”

These books include “Odd Evening” by McHenry, “Tilted: The Post-Brain Surgery Journals” by Krug and “My Secret Wars of 1984” by Etzel. The three writers originally planned to promote their work separately.

“Initially, we thought we should each have readings to promote our new books and get the word out,” said McHenry. “Then Dennis [Etzel] suggested we read together. It’s always great to read with your colleagues and hear their work and give the audience a more diverse bill of fare. The idea flowed naturally from there.”

McHenry performed first at the event. Early in his reading, he decided to lighten the mood with his poem, “Joke.” He also read “Song of Wandering Aengus” by William Butler Yates and then shared his updated version of the poem, “The Song of Stationary Nathan.”

Krug shared an excerpt from her memoir “Tilted: The Post-Brain Surgery Journals.” This work of literary non-fiction is written in the third person and explores Krug’s life after having brain surgery. Her reading dealt with the difficulties of getting a hearing aid. Her reading also showed that Krug did not lose her sense of humor in the face of adversity.

Etzel closed out the reading with “My Secret Wars of 1984,” a blending of past, present, public and private. It is a collection of prose poetry relating to one of Etzel’s most defining years. He started with his high school years, where his mother came out to their family and a major ice storm hit Topeka, Kansas.

The book blends Etzel’s original writing with quotes from comics, song lyrics, “Dungeons and Dragons” manuals and other poets.  Etzel also read from his chapbooks “The Sum of Two Mothers” and “My Graphic Novel,” which is inspired by reconciling with his father, a Vietnam veteran, and dealing with inter-generational Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After the reading, Etzel gave out copies of these chapbooks to students in attendance free of charge.

Each professor gave a unique performance in a friendly and relaxed environment to an intimate crowd of supportive students and faculty.

“It was great,” said Breanna Bowers, senior English major. “It was really cool to see the three styles, especially the two styles of poetry.”