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Tallgrass Science & Nature Writing Workshop official brochure is available and provides information about faculty and guests, a detailed schedule, and how to complete mail-in registry. 

Click link below for full, printable document:

TSNWW 2019 Brochure

TSNW19BrochFIN (1)_Page_1TSNW19BrochFIN (Revised)_Page_2

Online registration and keynote tickets can be purchased at Brown Paper Tickets using the following links:


Heartland by Sarah Smarsh_JPGLyon County Historical Society Receives

Humanities Kansas Grant for Community Book Read

EMPORIA – Humanities Kansas recently awarded $1,028 to the Lyon County Historical Society of Emporia in support of the Sarah Smarsh’s Heartland: A Community Read. Greg Jordan, executive director of the Lyon County Historical Society is the project director. The grant is a collaboration between the Society and the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University. 

A panel discussion of Smarsh’s book, “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth,” will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, at the Lyon County History Center, 711 Commercial St. in downtown Emporia. The event is free and open to community members of all ages. 

“We are grateful for Humanities Kansas support of the book read program,” Jordan said. The grant will allow LCHS to purchase 40 copies of Smarsh’s book. The books will be available for checkout  at the History Center and in the Center for Great Plains Studies, 307 White Library, the week of March 4. 

“Community members are encouraged to read Smarsh’s work and join the panel on April 4 for a community discussion about the themes in Heartland and how the memoir might apply to Lyon County,” said Susan Brinkman, assistant director, Center for Great Plains Studies. 

Panel members for the program include, Sarah Johnson, assistant professor, ESU Libraries and Archives; Max McCoy, ESU professor of journalism and director of the Great Plains center; Marc McDonald, Rector at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church; Amy Scheller, Flint Hills Technical College nursing instructor; and Joelle Spotswood, director of the ESU Writing Center. 

“Emporia is appropriate for a community read and panel discussion of Heartland,” McCoy said. “Many of our audience will recognize themselves in Smarsh’s description of working hard and growing up poor in rural Kansas.” 

Smarsh has emerged as a leader for a new generation of Kansas voices, according to McCoy. Following Smarsh’s visit to Emporia, signed copies of the book will be donated to area public and educational libraries. 

The Community Book Read comes just a week before Smarsh’s appearance at the Tallgrass Science and Nature Writing Workshop. Smarsh will deliver the workshop keynote at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, at the Emporia Arts Center, 815 Commercial Street. She will also be part of the workshop faculty and will lead a session earlier in the day for participants. Additional information and registration are online at

For additional information or to check out a copy of “Heartland,” please email the Historical Society at or the Great Plains center at 

“Humanities Kansas supports projects that examine our shared humanity,” said Julie Mulvihill, Humanities Kansas executive director. “This book discussion about working hard and growing up poor - the themes of Smarsh’s book ‘Heartland’ -- is a powerful prelude to her visit to Emporia.”

 About Humanities Kansas

Humanities Kansas is an independent nonprofit spearheading a movement of ideas to empower the people of Kansas to strengthen their communities and our democracy. Since 1972, our pioneering programming, grants, and partnerships have documented and shared stories to spark conversations and generate insights. Together with our partners and supporters, we inspire all Kansans to draw on history, literature, ethics, and culture to enrich their lives and serve the communities and state we all proudly call home. Visit




Online Registration is now open for the 2019 Tallgrass Writing Workshop. Participants may choose a full two-day conference registration (includes the Sarah Smarsh keynote) or the keynote only and can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets at the following links: 


Note: Complimentary ESU student tickets to Sarah Smarsh’s presentation “Heartland…” are available in the Center for Great Plains Studies (307 White Library) or by email

2019 Tallgrass Writing Faculty 

Kevin Rabas
Sarah Smarsh
Tina Casagrand
George Frazier
Jim Hoy
Kellen Jenkins
Steve & Glenda Schmidt
Brent Thomas
Max McCoy

Friday, April 12 begins with registration followed by a prairie lecture held at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Strong City. After lunch, participants will travel to Marion County for a unique guided tour of Santa Fe Trail remnants. Aerial photography and a nature walk will round out the day at the Ross Natural History Center. Participants will enjoy a BBQ dinner at the Ross followed by a Jam Session around the campfire.

Saturday, April 13 begins at the Emporia Arts Center with a series of breakout sessions throughout the morning - topics include Imagery in Prose, Unexpected Journey, Power of Narrative, and Environmental Journalism. Following the author book signing over lunch, participants will hear from the 2019 keynote speaker, Sarah Smarsh.

Workshop registration fees include a custom field journal, dinner on Friday evening, continental breakfast and a box lunch on Saturday. Participants will be responsible for travel and lodging. Camping at no cost to participants is available at the Ross on Friday evening.

Conference schedule and faculty bios are available here: Tallgrass Writing Workshop. A detailed schedule with maps and menus will be available soon. 


Great Plains Traverse Vol. 01, No. 02 is out! If you would like to purchase a copy, please contact us at 620 341-5574 or email us at If you would like to preview an abridged version of the publication, use the following link: Traverse Sample

Thank you for your continue support!


Sarah Smarsh

Photo by Paul Andrews 

“Heartland” author Sarah Smarsh to keynote the 2019 Tallgrass workshop

Sarah Smarsh, author of “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth” will be the keynote speaker at the 2019 Tallgrass Writing Workshop, the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State has announced.

Smarsh will deliver the conference keynote on Saturday, April 13, at the Emporia Arts Center. She will also be part of the workshop faculty, and will lead a session earlier in the day for participants.

“Sarah Smarsh has emerged as one of the most significant voices about contemporary life in America,” said Max McCoy, a professor of journalism and the director of the Center for Great Plains Studies at ESU. “She grew up in Kansas, and she writes exceedingly well about place, in both the geographic and the cultural sense. We’re grateful that she has agreed to share her talent and insight with our participants, and to provide the keynote on Saturday.” 

The New York Times recently called Smarsh’s new book "a deeply humane memoir with crackles of clarifying insight" that takes its place among a growing body of important works about class in America. A native Kansan, Sarah has reported on socioeconomic class, politics and public policy for The GuardianThe New York Times, The New Yorker and Harper's online. 

The two-day workshop will begin Friday, April 12, with Science and Nature field activities in the Flint Hills. On Saturday, all sessions will be held at the Emporia Arts Center, 815 Commercial. Smarsh’s keynote, at 2 p.m., will wrap up the workshop.

The full workshop schedule, including the rest of the faculty, will be announced later.

Workshop participants will have access to all events, including the keynote. Early registration is $140. Those wishing to attend only Smarsh’s keynote may reserve a seat, at $55. In January, prices will increase to $160 for workshop registration, and $65 for the keynote only. Seating is limited. To reserve space in the workshop, or to reserve a seat for the keynote, please contact the Center for Great Plains Studies, at 620 341-5574 or

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