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*** Spring Registration is now open! ***

We are pleased to offer the Butler Bridge Program to students in grades 3-12. The program draws on Butler's remarkable resources to build a bridge between Butler and its community, as well as between students who aspire to higher education and the professors, professional writers, teachers, and college  mentors who are eager to share what they know.

Butler Bridge programs are designed to develop the writing skills of pre-college students. Participation in such an individualized writing workshop program will help students prepare for college while also nurturing their talents and imaginations. 

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Please note that registration is limited for many Butler Bridge programs, as specified. To register for any of the following programs, click here.


Summer 2014

The Butler Bridge is looking to expand our programming this summer to off-campus venues around the Indianapolis community. Please check periodically as we continue to add more summer workshops.

Barbaric Yawp! Young Writers Poetry Workshop with Kaveh Akbar

Saturday, May 17. 1-3PM.
Location: Fishers Public Library (Five Municipal Drive, Fishers, IN 46038)
Cost: FREE
Grades: 7-12
No registration required

This is a workshop for highly motivated, intellectually curious young writers led by Kaveh Akbar (rhymes with "java snackbar"), a graduate student at Butler University and published poet, critic, and editor. After intensive looks at canonical and contemporary poems, students will work with the instructor and each other to generate their own writing. The workshop will provide a supportive environment where young poets will be able to challenge themselves creatively and intellectually in the company of like-minded peers.

Spring 2014

Writing Club: Second Saturdays

Our "Second Saturday" writing club meets monthly at the Efroymson Center for Creative Writing. Each Saturday session includes Poetry, Fiction, and/or Creative Nonfiction lessons. Students meet with peers and a college mentor who leads the workshop, engaging the students in thoughtful discussion about writing. Note: This is not class! Workshops will offer a fun, energetic environment for growing creative writers. Second Saturday sessions and open workshops will be split up by three different age divisions: elementary, middle, and high school.

1-3 PM:
Saturday, February 8th
Saturday, March 8th
Saturday, April 12th
Saturday, May 10th

Cost: $15 per session. Open grades 3-12.

Writer's Workshops

The Bridge program offers single-day and multiple-session workshops for students. These workshops are led by Butler faculty, MFA graduate students, and YA authors from the central Indiana community.

"Where it's At!" with Luke Wortley

Saturday, January 25th. 1-3PM.
Cost: $25
Grades: 3-7

Workshop focusing on creating a believable sense of place and writing about fictional locations. Will include some drama in which people will be "cast" as physical obstacles to illustrate how setting can act as a character and source of conflict in fiction. All activities and prompts will be geared toward both poetry and prose. 

"Fanfic: Your Creativity, Other People's Playgrounds" with Saundra Mitchell

Saturday, February 22nd. 1-3 PM.
Cost: $25
Grades: 8-12

Where's a great place to learn to write, get great feedback, and make lifelong friends? In online fan fiction communities. This two hour workshop will introduce fan fiction-what it is, how to find it, how to write it, and how to use what you learn with fan fiction in your own original fiction as well.  It doesn't matter if you're a het, gen or slash fan-if you're 8th grade and up, you're welcome in this workshop.

"Song Session 1: The Poetics of Song Lyrics" with Ben Bernthal

Saturday, March 29th. 1-4 PM.
Cost: $25
Grades: 3-6

Students will work as a group to craft an original tune with several verses and a chorus. Along the way, learn about poetic concepts and their connection to music. Will include correspondence before the workshop is held to discuss musical influences and students will receive a demo of their song, professionally recorded in a home studio.

"Poetry Gets Loud!" with Allyson Horton

Saturday, April 19th. 1-3 PM.
Cost: $25
Grades: 7-12

Performance poet Allyson Horton will teach you how to rock the mic and move the crowd during this lively spoken-word workshop. Learn how to apply performance techniques to unlock the raw power of your poetic voice.

"Song Session 2: The Poetics of Song Lyrics" with Ben Bernthal

Saturday, May 17th. 1-4 PM.
Cost: $25
Grades: NOW OPEN TO 6-12th grade!

Students will work as a group to craft an original tune with several verses and a chorus. Along the way, learn about poetic concepts and their connection to music. Will include correspondence before the workshop is held to discuss musical influences and students will receive a demo of their song, professionally recorded in a home studio.

To register, click here.

Meet the Staff:

Second Saturday Mentors

This year's mentors all have previous experience working at Butler's Creative Writing Camp. Mentors are graduate students in Butler's Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program and also advanced students in Butler's undergraduate English writing major.

Farhad Anwarzai, HS mentor: a graduate student in Butler's Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing.
Luke Wortley, MS mentor: a graduate student in Butler's MFA program in creative writing.
Amy Gaughan, elementary mentor: a graduate student in Butler's MFA program in creative writing.
Kaveh Akbar, "floating" mentor: a graduate student in Butler's MFA program in creative writing.

Writer's Workshop Teachers

Workshop teachers are all professional writers: either Butler writing professors, Graduate Students in Butler's MFA program in creative writing, or publishing authors from the Indianapolis community.

Luke Wortley is a second-year graduate student in Butler's MFA program in creative writing, specializing in prose. He has worked at Butler's creative writing camp in the summer, and is a favorite mentor this year at Second Saturday Writing Club.

Allyson Horton, poet, has appeared on Showtime at the Apollo (formerly It's Showtime at the Apollo!)  in Harlem, New York where her spoken-word performance at the historic theater received a thunderous standing ovation. Horton was later chosen by the tough Apollo crowd as the "winner" of the overall competition.  Horton is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana and a graduate of Indiana University. Horton has performed her work both locally and throughout the Midwest. Allyson Horton has poetry published in the anthology Turn the Page and You Don't Stop! Sharing Successful Chapters In Our Lives With Youth (2006) Say It Loud Readers and Writers Series (2006). The poet also recites her work around the city alongside some of Indianapolis' finest jazz musicians in conjunction with the Indy Jazz Fest Band in a collective effort to promote jazz music education throughout Indianapolis schools.  Allyson Horton resides in Indianapolis and currently working on her MFA in Creative Writing at Butler University.

Saundra Mitchell is a YA author whose novels include SHADOWED SUMMER, THE VESPERTINE, THE SPRINGSWEET and the forthcoming THE ELEMENTALS and MISTWALKER. She's also the editor of the forthcoming YA anthology, DEFY THE DARK. For almost fifteen years, she was the sole screenwriter for the Book of Stories, On the Road, Fresh Films and Girls in the Director's Chair short film series. In 2008, she headed and instructed the first Fresh Films Emerging Screenwriters program, and she was the Head Writer and an Executive Producer for Fresh Films and Sprite Refreshing Films. Her debut novel, SHADOWED SUMMER, was the 2010 winner of The Society of Midland Authors Book Award for Children's Fiction and a 2010 Edgar® Award Nominee. It was chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection and an ALAN Pick in 2009. Her short story "Ready to Wear" was nominated for a 2007 Pushcart Prize after appearing in Vestal Review Issue 27. Her short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in anthologies TRUTH & DARE, FORETOLD, DEAR TEEN ME and DEAR BULLY.

Ben Bernthal is a Butler alumni, musician, and worked several summers at Butler's Creative Writing Camp.


Coordinator,  Mindy Dunn has a B.A. in English from Butler University and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from Purdue University, with a specialty in poetry. Mindy is the Administrative Specialist for the Efroymson Center for Creative Writing and has taught at Butler in the English, First Year Seminar, and Honors departments for five years. She has also worked as a teacher and mentor at Butler's creative writing camp for 8 years.

Assistant Coordinator, Chris Speckman has a B.A. and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Butler University. He is the director of the university's Writing in the School program, which has been honored with a Jefferson Award for Public Service and a grant from the Jerry L. and Barbara J. Burris Foundation. He will be a first-year teacher at Butler in the English and First Year Seminar departments in the fall. He has also worked as a mentor at Butler's creative writing camp for two years.

If you have any additional questions about the Butler Bridge Program or its programs, please email Chris at


Third Annual Writing Contest:
2014 Booth Tarkington Prize for Young Writers

This year's contest is closed to entries, and we are pleased to announce our winners:

Elementary School
Fiction: "The Quest for Ermador" by Syed-Muhammad Waasif Ali
Poetry: "Death Before Slavery" by Elizabeth Bowling

Middle School
Fiction: "A Chance" by Hannah Plunkett
Poetry:  "You" by Maya Mishra

High School
Fiction: "The Skogsra" by Carley Drake
Poetry: "First Bloom" by Melissa Ho

We thank all of the students who submitted their work and encourage you to continue in all your writing efforts. Your continued participation is the lifeblood of the contest, so please submit again next year!

For more information about more Butler Bridge programs, please visit or email



Happy Writing,

Geoffrey Sharpless
Mindy Dunn
Chris Speckman