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Topeka Writers

Featured Writers :
Carol Ascher
Thomas Fox Averill
Lora Avery Annette Hope Billings Photograph, Kansas Author
Gwendolyn Brooks Darren Canady Marcia Cebulska Angela Cervantes, Kansas Author Cyrus Console
Brett DeFries Dennis Etzel, Kansas Author Amy Fleury Alex Grecian
Gary Jackson Louise Krug Ben Lerner Harriett Lerner Margaret Hill McCarter
Eric McHenry Karl Menninger Matthew Porubsky John Reimringer
Eric McHenry
Ed Skoog Rex Stout Debra Stufflebean Nick Twemlow
Max Yoho Kevin Young    
Izzy Wasserstein Max

    Topeka, a city of 123,000, is the capital of Kansas. Early settlers were passionate in the "Bleeding Kansas" era, prelude to the Civil War.
    Topeka also has many state and federal officies and is home to the Santa Fe Railway, which has now merged into the Burlington Northern Railway System. Union Pacific track also run through this northeast Kansas city.
     Thomas Fox Averill is Writer in Residence at Washburn University and is involved with their Center for Kansas Studies. Poet Amy Fleury taught poetry writing for ten years at Washburn University, and Eric McHenry was hired when she went to McNeese State University to direct their MFA Program. One of Washburn's creative writing students, Leah Sewell, is now a published writer living in the capital city. Izzy Wasserstein grew up in Topeka, graduated from Washburn University, went to the University of New Mexico (at the same time as poet Gary Jackson), and is now a lecturer at the University, as is Dennis Etzel Jr. Bret DeFries, Ben Lerner, Lara Avery, Ed Skoog, Matthew Porubsk, Gary Jackson, Cyrus Console, Nick Twemlow, Anne Boyer, Darren Canady and John Reimringer and Angela Cervantes all graduated from Topeka high schools.
    Kansas Authors Club, a continually-active statewide organization, was founded here in 1902. Early members included newspaper men Edgar Watson Howe, Frank Pitts MacLennan, Thomas Brower Peacock, and William Allen White. Other members included Topekans Margaret Hill McCarter, Eugene Fitch Ware, Senator Arthur Capper, Reverend Charles M. Sheldon, Dr. Karl A. Menninger and Kansas humorist Max Yoho. Writer and storyteller Debra Stufflebean makes her home in the state capital, as well. Duane Herrmann lives in nearby Berryton. Sandra Moran was born in Topeka, and created a fine body of work before succumbing to cancer at age 47. After her retirement from nursing, poet Annette Billings has dedicated to writing, publishing, and performing her work with great energy and force.
   Home of the Menninger Clinic, Topeka has a small body of psychiatric literature by such writers as Flo Menninger, Karl Menninger, Carol Ascher, William Gibson (see drama overview) and Harriet Lerner.
Although he did not live in Kansas as an adult, and only rarely wrote about the state, Rex Stout grew up in Topeka and was the prolific creator of the Nero Wolfe dectective novels.
    Another Topeka born author is Alex Grecian who has written a series of Novels dubbed the "Murder Squad Series" as well as many graphic novels.
   Playwright Marcia Cebulska arrived in Topeka in the late 1990s and has adopted Kansas and Topeka themes in plays and screenplays about Brown v. Board, Fred Phelps, William Inge, and Through Martha's Eyes.
   African-American poet Gwendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, and the prolific African-American poet Kevin Young lived here from childhood through his graduation from Topeka West High School.
    Louise Krug, although raised in Michigan, graduated from the Univesity of Kansas and now lives in Topeka, where she teaches Creative Writing courses at Washburn Univeristy.
    For an appreciative article about Topeka, read "My Town," by Karl Menninger, a eulogy for his father and a description of Topeka first delivered as a radio address on NBC, December 5, 1953.

For an article about the amazing number of find poets to come out of Topeka, read "Is Topeka the Most Poetic City in America," by Amy Brady.