Wichita is the largest city in Kansas, a cultural center and an aviation hub— home of McConnell Air Force Base. Wichita has several universities, including The Wichita State University, Friends University (a Quaker institution), and Newman University.
Wichita began as a cattle town on the railroad. The city has always had fine newspapers. The Eagle and the Beacon are now the Eagle-Beacon. Novelist Paul Wellman worked on both papers while living there. From early on, Wichita was industrial, attracting cattle, grain and then the airline industry--Cessna and Boeing both began operations there. During WWII the city had a population boom when it became a major aircraft manufacturing center. The city has always been more Democratic in politics than the rest of Kansas, with a strong labor movement.
Novels set in Wichita include Earl Thompson's Garden of Sand and James P. Girard's The Late Man. Michael Van Walleghen's The Wichita Poems and Allen Ginsberg's "Wichita Vortex Sutra" are part of a strong tradition of poetry and poets. Charles Plymell, Michael McClure, Lee Streiff, Bruce Conner, David Haselwood, Bob Branaman, and James Mechem were all part of the Wichita "Beat" scene. An enlightening article on the scene by Connie Kachel White is on the website wichitabeats.
Bruce Cutler spent much of his career teaching English, humanities, and creative writing at Wichita State University. Currently on that faculty of that MFA Program, Darren Defrain has lived in the state since 2005.
Poets Jeff Worley and Tod Marshall graduated from Wichita high schools and have made careers at universities outside of Kansas. Roy Beckemeyer, retired from Boeing, is an editor, science writer and poet. Watermark Books, located in Wichita, is one of the finest in Kansas, and Watermark Press added a great deal to Kansas Literature. Mystery writer Gaylord Dold was editor of that press.
Young adult writer Lois Ruby began her writing career in Wichita, and Kansas has been the setting of several of her novels. News anchor Jim Lehrer began his career here. Paul Dickey resided here from 1952-1970 graduating from Wichita State University and from 1974-1985. Clare Vanderpool was born in Wichita and still resides in Wichita just four blocks from her childhood home.
Stephen Yenser was born in Wichita in 1941 and is currently Distinguished Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at UCLA and curator of the Hammer Poetry Series at the Hammer Museum.