Discussion Series Explores “Literature with Kansas Connections”

The Leavenworth Public Library is hosting a three part book discussion series March through May entitled “Literature with Kansas Connections.” Members of the community are invited to attend the free programs, but registration is required. Patrons can sign up for one, two or all three of the discussions. To check out books, contact Cindy McGuire, Programming/Marketing Coordinator at 913-682-5666 ext. 5100 or cmcguire@lvplks.org. Online registration is also available on the calendar listing for each discussion, which can be accessed on the Calendar link at the top of the library’s website.

Each book in this series offers a different window through which to look at modern-day Kansas.  The authors bring together questions involving gender, ethnicity, time, and perspective.  Each picture of a highly-individualized Kansas experience brings readers to an understanding of our common experiences as Kansans.

The first program is on Sunday, Mar. 10 at 2 p.m. in the Library’s Jahn Room. Professor John Edgar Tidwell will lead a discussion of Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes. Hughes, who later became a famous poet of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance, spent most of his own first 13 years in pre-World War I Lawrence, Kansas. His first novel is set in the fictional 1920s rural Kansas town of Stanton – a town many believe was based on his Lawrence boyhood experiences. His main character is Sandy, a black child who is being raised mostly by his grandmother within a world of prejudice and segregation. Eventually, his grandmother dies. Sandy must live with a variety of relatives and make the best of a variety of situations, all the while struggling to be the best that he can be despite the realities of racial inequality and poverty.

Tidwell is a professor of English at the University of Kansas. A native of Independence, Kan., he received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. His research specialties are African American and American literatures. He has edited six books, including the memoirs, the collected poems, and selected journalism of Kansas-born writer Frank Marshall Davis. Tidwell directed “Reading and Remembering Langston Hughes,” a series of poetry circles that met in five sites around Kansas in 2001-02 to discuss selected works by Hughes. He is a member of the HK Speakers Bureau and has been leading TALK discussions since 2008.

The series continues with The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarity on Sunday, April 14 at 2 p.m. The final discussion of The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson by Thomas Fox Averill is scheduled on Sunday, May 5 at 2 p.m.

The series is sponsored by Humanities Kansas (HK), a nonprofit cultural organization, as part of its Talk About Literature in Kansas (TALK) program. HK is furnishing the books and discussion leaders for the upcoming TALK series.