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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
Anthony Connolly
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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