Festival Panel Schedule – Kansas Book Festival (2024)

Panel Schedule for Kansas Book Festival, September 15-16, 2023

Pre-Festival Presentation

Friday, September 15

4 pm

Resurrection City—Mabee Library Lounge

Catherine Browder, winner of the 2023 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award, shares from her collection of stories Resurrection City, which takes us back to the 2011 triple disaster that devastated Northeastern Japan—earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown. Browder’s stories illuminate the heartbreak, resilience, , and love that exist underneath all the statistics and soundbites.

Main Festival Presentations

Saturday, September 16

9 am

  • Celebrating Seventy Years of the Best Children’s Books—Memorial Union, Kansas Room

Beverly Buller, chairperson of the William Allen White Children’s Book Award, headquartered in Emporia, introduces this state prize, a winning author, and how kids can help choose future winners.

  • Kansas Notable Books—Mabee Library Lounge

15 Notable Book Awards are presented to standout Kansas authors by State Librarian Ray Walling, including fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and children’s books.

  • Literature of Crisis—Mabee Library, Room 300

Fiction thrives on conflict, but when set during times of crisis, character is doubly tested. Join K.L. Barron (Thirst, Africa, political violence), Catherine Browder (Resurrection City, Japan, earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown), and Susan Kraus (When We Lost Touch, United States, Covid) for a discussion of writing that grows out of extreme conditions. Moderator: KSU English Prof, Michele Janette.

  • Poets In Praise of Prairie—Mabee Library, Room 303

Humanities Kansas invites readers to engage with native plants through Wild Words, a chapbook of poems and original illustrations that honor the Kansas prairie, from the iconic sunflower and big bluestem to the unexpected antelope milkweed. Moderator: HK Director of Grants & Outreach, Leslie VonHolten.

10 am

  • Why We Travel—Memorial Union, Washburn Rooms A & B

Pulitzer finalist Chloe Cooper Jones (Easy Beauty) talks with veteran travel writer Rolf Potts (The Vagabond’s Way) about the philosophical underpinnings of taking journeys, and how travelers might endeavor to seek “difficult beauty” on the road. Moderator: Travel writer Jon Arlan.

  • Childhood through a Different Lens—Memorial Union, Kansas Room

Jenn Bailey, author of popular books about a boy with autism (A Friend for Henry and Henry, Like Always), talks with parents and kids about how children can cope with mental health difficulties and support peers who struggle.

  • First Books for First Readers—Mabee Library, Room 300

Three authors of books that introduce the alphabet (Yanfei Gao, ABC Dinosaurs), space travel (Stephen T. Johnson, My Big Silver Rocketship), and the changing seasons (Sue Gallion, Our Seasons) talk with parents and children about tangible learning. Moderator: Angie Grau, Owner of Paper June Bookstore

  • Strangers at Home—Mabee Library, Room 303

James Davis (Club Q) is a gay poet from a conservative Christian family. Jesse Nathan (Eggtooth) is a poet of Jewish and Mennonite parentage who grew up in Berkeley, California and a farm in south-central Kansas. Both have Kansas roots but can feel estranged. Moderator: Former Kansas Poet Laureate: Eric McHenry.

11 am

  • Eternal Summer or Back to School Again?—Memorial Union, Washburn Rooms A & B

Mike Ciccotello, winner of the 2023 Bill Martin, Jr. Picture Book Award, talks about back-to-school tensions in his amusing picture book Beach Toys vs. School Supplies. Moderator: Emporia Education Professor Heather Caswell

  • Suicide in our Midst—Memorial Union, Kansas Room

Two respected authors talk about the alarming increase in suicides from a personal perspective, having survived actual attempts (Clancy Martin, How Not to Kill Yourself) or having lived under the shadow of multiple suicides (Juliet Patterson, Sinkhole). Moderator: Poet Michael Kleber-Diggs.

  • Land and Legacy—Mabee Library, Room 300

Two writers talk about Kansas communities with different legacies. Kate Benz (Nothing but the Dirt) reports on Courtland, a north-central community unwilling to give up on itself. Raylene Hinz-Penner (East of Liberal), describes a southwestern Mennonite community still coming to terms with tensions between land ownership and former inhabitants. Moderator: Joshua Falleaf, Lenape Citizen, Lawrence Chamber of Commerce

  • Poetry, Collaboration, & Therapy—Mabee Library, Room 303

Poets Dennis Etzel, Jr. (Everything is Ephemera), Jericho M. Hockett (In the Bodies), and Annie Klier Newcomer (Comets: Relationships That Wander), plus artist Barbara Waterman-Peters, discuss the therapeutic benefits of creative collaboration, particularly with the anthology Kansas Speaks Out: Poems in the Age of Me, Too.

Keynote Presentation (Memoiral Union, Washburn Rooms A & B)

12 pm

  • Imagination Set Loose: Ling Ma’s Prize-Winning Speculative Stories

Ling Ma, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, shares from her acclaimed collection—Bliss Montage—and discusses why she is drawn toward stories that don’t conform to the rules of realism. Moderator: Kaye McIntyre, Kansas Public Radio

1 pm

  • Why We Love Baseball—Memorial Union, Washburn Rooms A & B

Baseball gurus Joe Posnanski (Why We Love Baseball: A History in 50 Moments) and Bill James (The Bill James Handbook 2023) converse about their favorite subject and why it is their favorite subject! Moderator: Brad Allen, Lawrence Public Library

  • Stranger than Reality—Memorial Union, Kansas Room

A Turkish garbage collector rescues throwaway musicians and forms a clandestine orchestra. A volcano erupts in New York’s Central Park, impossible to ignore as it towers higher. Hear two rising fiction writers—Kenan Orhan and JES (John Elizabeth Stintzi)—discuss the power of speculative storytelling. Moderator: fiction writer Andy Farkas.

  • Girl Go-Getters in Middle Grade Novels—Mabee Library, Room 300

The author of a historical novel set in Kansas (Kathleen Wilford, Cabby Potts, duch*ess of Dirt) compares notes with the Kansas-based author of a contemporary fantasy (Sarah Henning, Monster Camp) written for the same age group, 8-12 year olds. Moderator: award-winning storyteller Priscilla Howe

  • Crafting Community Through Poetry—Mabee Library, Room 303

How is community created and supported through poetry? Poets laureate from Kansas (Traci Brimhall) and Missouri (Maryfrances Wagner) will discuss their experiences as state laureates, workshop leaders, and event organizers, also their involvement with literary centers. Moderator: Award-winning poet Michael Kleber-Diggs

2 pm

  • Seeking the Source—Memorial Union, Washburn Rooms A & B

Bestselling author Candice Millard (Destiny of the Republic) talks about her latest work of history, River of the Gods, which follows three 19th-century explorers on their harrowing search for the headwaters of the Nile. Moderator: Historian Sonja Czarnecki.

  • New Takes on Two Classics—Mabee Library, Room 300

Having published YA novels that get us re-thinking the classics Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, Amanda Sellet (Belittled Women) and Julie Sellers (Ann of Sunflower Lane) discuss why they have dared to return to those standard-bearers from new vantage points. Moderator: Children’s author Roderick Townley.

  • Black Leadership and Influences—Mabee Library, Room 302

Maryemma Graham (The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker) and Margie Carr (Kansas City’s Montgall Avenue) explore the traditions and the lives of leaders instrumental in creating social, literary, and cultural institutions supporting Black communities. Moderator: Darren Canady, KU English Department.

  • Small-Town Kansas Re-Imagined—Mabee Library, Room 303

In a murder mystery set along the dried-up Arkansas River, Charles Jones defies the stereotype of small-town simplicity, while DeMisty Bellinger depicts three distinctive women, living in the same town but decades apart, who must fight for their own love and agency. Moderator: Cheryl Duffy, Director of Writing, Ft. Hays St. University

3 pm

  • Ice and Us—Memorial Union, Kansas Room

Amy Brady, Executive Director of the popular environmental magazine Orion, talks about her new book–Ice: From Mixed Drinks to Skating Rinks, a Cool History of a Hot Commodity. How has the consumption of ice evolved and what are the possible consequences? Moderator: Rex Buchanan, Director Emeritus, Kansas Geological Survey

  • Literary Gymnastics for YA Book Lovers—Mabee Library, Room 300

One gymnast tries out new sports and falls in love (It’s All in How You Fall by Sarah Henning). Another discovers she can vault right out of the present moment (Vaulting through Time by Nancy McCabe). Both authors describe why sports figure heavily in their YA novels. Moderator: Margo Moore, Teen Librarian at Lawrence Library

  • Sustaining the Small Press—Mabee Library, Room 302

Editors Maureen Carroll (Anamcara Press), Dan Hoyt (American Buffalo Books), and Jason Ryberg (Spartan Press) talk with Brian Daldorph (Coal City Press) about the aspirations, frustrations, and joys of the small literary publisher.

  • Well-Baked Words—Mabee Library, Room 303

NYTimes Bestselling author Erin Jeanne McDowell (Savory Baking), Traci Brimhall (Kansas Poet Laureate), and Marcia Cebulska (Lovers, Dreamers & Thieves) discuss food and food culture from the perspectives of the cookbook, the poem, and the memoir. Come hungry, leave hungrier. Moderator: Tom Averill, Washburn Professor.

Book Art Exhibitions

Entrance of Mabee Library—You Are What You Ate: Food in Memoir

Author-illustrator (and former pastry chef) Marilyn Pollack Naron explores how we see, read, and taste the stories we tell.

Back wall of Mabee Library—Art and Books: A Kansas Conversation

  • Candice Millard – River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile (New York Times Bestseller)
  • Jenn Bailey –Meowsterpieces: A Cat’s Guide to Art and Life(Children’s)
  • K.L. Barron –Thirst(Fiction)
  • Kate Benz –Nothing but the Dirt: Stories from an American Farm Town(Nonfiction)
  • Amy Brady –Ice: From Mixed Drinks to Skating Rinks — a Cool History of a Hot Commodity(Nonfiction)
  • Traci Brimhall –Land of Nod(Poetry)
  • Margie Carr –Kansas City’s Montgall Avenue(Nonfiction)
  • Marcia Cebulska –Lovers, Dreamers, and Thieves(Nonfiction)
  • Violet Cornett –My Aunt Flor(Children’s)
  • Yanfei Gao –ABC Dinosaurs(Children’s)
  • Maryemma Graham –The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker(Nonfiction)
  • Stephen Johnson –My Big Silver Rocketship(Children’s)
  • Clancy Martin –How Not to Kill Yourself(Nonfiction)
  • Mike Ciccotello – Beach Toys vs School Supplies (2023 Bill Martin Picture Book Award Winner)
  • Erin Jean McDowell –Savory Baking(Nonfiction)
  • Kathleen Wilford –Cabby Potts, duch*ess of Dirt(Children’s)
  • Maryfrances Wagner –Solving for X(Poetry)
  • Julie A. Sellers –Ann of Sunflower Lane(YA)
  • Amanda Sellet –Belittled Women(YA)
  • John Elizabeth Stintzi – My Volcano (Fiction)
  • Megan Kaminski – Wild Words(Poetry)
  • Roderick Townley –Mozart’s PigtailandA Bitter Magic(Poetry)
  • Sue Lowell Gallion –Our Seasons: The World in Winter, Spring, Summer, and AutumnandOur World, A First Book of Geography(Children’s)
  • More to join soon!
Festival Panel Schedule – Kansas Book Festival (2024)


What happens in Book Festival? ›

A literary festival usually features a variety of presentations and readings by authors, as well as other events, delivered over a period of several days, with the primary objectives of promoting the authors' books and fostering a love of literature and writing.

How many people attend the Brooklyn Book Festival? ›

Brooklyn Book Festival
CountryUnited States
InauguratedSeptember 16, 2006
FounderMarty Markowitz
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What happens at the Texas Book Festival? ›

Held each fall in and around the majestic State Capitol in downtown Austin, the annual Festival Weekend features a rich variety of author presentations and panels, book signings, cooking demonstrations, programs and activities for kids of all ages, food trucks, and exhibiting vendors from across the state and country.

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