February 06, 2017 3:15PM
Like so many writers, Dennis Etzel, Jr., came to his craft unexpectedly. The native Kansan began writing poetry as a student at Washburn University when a philosophy professor convinced the computer systems analysis major to start journaling.
Etzel, who now teaches English at Washburn, will read from his works at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9, in the Governors Room of the Overman Student Center. The presentation, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Distinguished Visiting Writers Series.
Etzel’s first book of poetry grew from the journal he wrote as a student.
Laura Lee Washburn, a creative writing professor at PSU, said she’s excited to hear Etzel read.
“His recent poems of family, love, and resistance shake our notions of life in America,” Washburn said.
Etzel’s newest collection, “Fast-Food Sonnets,” examines the wildly variant sides of the fast-food industry. Prior to that, he wrote “My Secret Wars of 1984,” which follows the young poet in a year when he was surrounded by the apocalyptic millennialism of the Reagan administration at the same time that his mother was coming out in conservative Topeka, Kansas.
Etzel earned a master of arts degree from the University of Kansas and a master arts degree and graduate certificate in women and gender studies from Kansas State University. He has written two chapbooks, “The Sum of Two Mothers” and “My Graphic Novel.” His work has appeared in numerous publications. He is a TALK Scholar for the Kansas Humanities Council and leads poetry workshops across Kansas.