Winter, believe it or not, will end. Our chilly corner of the Midwest will thaw, the wind will lose its teeth, and green stuff will stretch its arms out of the muddy ground. As the climes climb in temperature, so too does Lawrence’s literary life. The writers who’ve been hibernating will emerge, the book buyers will finish their Christmas hauls, and literary Lawrencians will once again gather in hallowed halls to celebrate the written word. It’s time for Spring literary events season.
Thursday, February 20, 7:00 PM
Climate activist Ezeilo explodes the myth that climate activism is mostly a concern for privileged white people. In her book Engage, Connect, Protect, she argues that a way forward for climate activism is an inclusive, youth-oriented approach that welcomes all kinds of people. The founder and CEO of the Greening Youth Foundation, Ezelio is sure to be a galvanizing speaker and a welcome perspective on the climate crisis.
Tuesday, March 3, 7:00 PM
Well this is a bit self-serving, isn’t it? Plugging my own book, oy vey. Still, if you were to ask me which springtime literary events I’m most excited about, this would naturally be on the list. Instead of tooting my own horn, though, let me toot the horn of my amazing co-author, Tara Wray. Freddy’s is a book-length exploration of place, parenting, and identity in a corporate landscape of roadside chain restaurants. I wrote some poems, and Tara contributed a stunning portfolio of photographs. She was so amazing to work with, and her photography and activism through the Too Tired Project are an inspiration to me. I can’t wait to share the stage with her at LPL for the launch of our book.
Wednesday, March 11, 7:00 PM
This is a big one. If you ask me, Louise Erdrich is one of the absolute most important American novelists, and I’m thrilled that The Raven, Haskell, and the Library can team up to bring her to Lawrence. As an added bonus, The Round House (a stone-cold classic, read it if you haven’t) is this year’s adult pick for Read Across Lawrence. I’m simply humming with excitement about this event. It may reach capacity, so give yourself some extra time to get to Haskell’s auditorium. It’s on the central quad, across from the library and student union. You can park (or rideshare) to the Cultural Center and walk across the quad to the auditorium.
Deanna Raybourn at Lawrence Public Library
Thursday, March 12, 7:00 PM
The Raven has a long history with mysteries, having opened in 1987 as a mystery-only store. Original Raven mystery diehards take note: the incredible Deanna Raybourn is bringing her Victorian London Veronica Speedwell series to LPL to celebrate the launch of its latest installment, A Murderous Relation. The evening promises to be foggy and full of intrigue.
Wednesday, March 18, 7:00 PM
Kate Elizabeth Russell wrote much of My Dark Vanessa in the booth by the radiator at La Prima Tazza while she completed her Ph. D in English at the University of Kansas. Now it’s gone from a Kansas coffee shop’s resident work-in-progress to the novel everyone will be talking about. An urgent and timely exploration of the complexities of abuse, Vanessa is sure to drive all kinds of conversations. Start those conversations as we welcome Kate back to Kansas on March 18th.
Thursday, March 19, 7:00 PM
I think this would make an amazing double feature for people who went to Deanna Raybourn last week. From Victorian mysteries to…Victorian constraints on women that persist to this day. Cultural critic Cote will present her new book Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today. Joining Cote in conversation will be Lawrence’s own Rachel McCarthy James, and this promises to be a lively evening of conversation, history, and criticism.
Sunday, April 19, 2:30 PM
Oh man, this is another one I’m losing my mind about. Susan Orlean is one of my heroes. She has been writing reliably amazing nonfiction for decades, most recently with the stellar The Library Book. The Library Book tracks the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Library while exploring the myriad ways a library can involve itself in the lives of its patrons. How fitting, then, that this appearance by Orlean serves as a celebration for National Library Week. I’ve waited a long time to see Susan Orlean talk in Lawrence, and I’m thrilled that it’ll finally happen this Spring.
This isn’t even all of it—watch the Library’s website and The Raven’s website for other events. The next installment of the Literary Lawrence blog will cover the Paper Plains Literary Festival, a happening so thrilling I’m struggling to find words to describe how excited I am. For now, mark April 23-26 in your calendars.