Butler Bridge Program

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 college mentors who are eager to share what they know.

Our Vision

Butler Bridge programs combine learning, laughter, and compassion to inspire young writers and readers. The programs connect bright, young people with talented mentors and like-minded peers to nurture intellectual and artistic discovery.

This learning-rich community rejects a narrow version of education, in which, too often, assessment structures learning. We reach for a goal that is harder to define: enhancing creativity, developing the imagination, finding our own voices. We help our students and campers be so engaged with the joys of the literary arts that they don’t even notice how much they are learning.

Beginning in 2021, all students who attend a Bridge program offering are eligible to submit material to our first print anthology of student work. This anthology will also feature the winners and entries of the Booth Tarkington Prize for Young Writers.

If you have any additional questions about the Butler Bridge Program or its programs, please email the Bridge Program Director, Elisabeth Speckman, at egiffin@butler.edu.

Want to stay up to date? Like us on Facebook!

For accessibility information or to request disability-related accommodations, please visit www.butler.edu/academic-services/event-accommodations/

Our Program Offerings

Meeting once a month on Saturdays, our writing club is housed at the Efroymson Center for Creative Writing. Each Saturday session includes Poetry, Fiction, and/or Creative Nonfiction lessons. Students meet with peers and a graduate student 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. Writing Club sessions will be split into three age divisions: elementary, middle, and high school.

All sessions run from 1:00-3:00 PM and meet at the Efroymson Center for Creative Writing (530 W Hampton Dr):

Cost: $15 per session. Open to grades 3–12.

We are pleased to offer Saturday Writing Club for the Fall 2021 semester for a cost of $15 on the following dates:

  • Saturday, January 29
  • Saturday, February 19
  • Saturday, March 19
  • Saturday, April 23

Please visit our Eventbrite page for more information and to register for each event. Registration is required prior to attending.


Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all Bridge participants are required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. Please do not attend a Bridge event if you are experiencing symptoms or have been a close contact with someone with COVID-19.
The Butler Bridge Program reserves the right to transfer any in-person workshops and events to virtual ones for the safety of those involved. Any such transfers will be made in advance and well-publicized. 

We are happy to continue offering a virtual option for those students who are unable to attend in-person workshops. In these quick, one-hour sessions, students will meet with a mentor or Bridge Director Elisabeth Speckman for prompts and activities that stretch their writing muscles for approximately 45 minutes before having the chance to share their work aloud in an open mic.

All sessions run from 4:30PM-5:30PM EDT/EST and meet via a secure, online videoconference link. Links will be sent to registered students in the days leading up to the session. 

Cost: $10 per session. Open to grades 3-12.

We are pleased to offer Write On Wednesdays for the Fall 2021 semester for a cost of $10 on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, February 23
  • Wednesday, February 23
  • Wednesday, April 27

Please visit our Eventbrite page for more information and to register for each event. Registration is required prior to attending.

The Bridge program offers single-session workshops that engage students in specific writing skills, genres, or topics.

Please check back for our Fall Specialty Writer’s  Workshop offerings.

The Booth Tarkington Prize for Young Writers celebrates excellence in poetry and prose in the works of students in grades 3-12.

Submissions for the 2021 Booth Tarkington Prize for Young Writers are now closed. Please check back for 2022 information.

Open to grades 3-12

Prizes are offered in Poetry and Prose for each division: elementary, middle school, high school.

Winners will receive a $25 gift card and have their work published on our blog. Winners, runners-up, and honorable mentions will all receive a certificate.

Beginning in 2021, we are happy to announce that we will be compiling the submissions into a print anthology in addition to publishing the winners on our blog. All submissions are eligible and will be considered for publication. Copies of the anthology will be available for purchase.

Additionally, all students who attend a Bridge workshop are eligible to submit additional material for the anthology.

Students may submit in the following categories:

Poetry (up to 3 poems)

Fiction (up to 5 pages, double-spaced)

Students should submit via email to egiffin@butler.edu with the subject line “Tarkington Prize.”

Each submission must include:

  1. Student Name and Grade Level
  2. Contact Email
  3. Mailing Address
  4. Title(s) of piece(s) submitted
  5. Your consent for your work to be included in our print anthology.

Past winners and runners-up may be found on our blog site, with links to the published winning works:

Allison Moran (she/her) is currently pursuing her MFA at Butler University in Indianapolis, where she lives. She holds a BA in English from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, where she grew up. She is an avid painter and encourages everyone to find a medium of visual art to dabble in. Whenever she gets stuck in her work or life, she paints. She believes the potato to be one of nature’s greatest gifts and considers herself a french fry connoisseur.
Amy Gastelum (she/her) is a nurse, writer and radio producer. She’s lived and worked in Indianapolis, New York City and Providence. Gastelum earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from Indiana University in 2008. She began her nursing career at the county hospital in Indianapolis and has continued to work in underserved communities since. She has specialized in mother/baby care, primarily as a public health nurse, making home visits. In 2012 she graduated from the eight-week intensive Transom Story Workshop for radio storytelling. She has reported for NPR programs and affiliate stations, Guernica Magazine, and This Land Press. Gastelum became a mother in 2014 then co-produced Mother: A Podcast. She taught Audio Storytelling at Indiana University in Bloomington and is working toward an MFA in creative non-fiction at Butler University. She celebrated the birth of her second child in April 2021.
Elizabeth Reames (she/her) is a poet in the Butler University Creative Writing MFA program. She’s had work published in FIVE: 2: ONE, Soft Cartel, The Peacock Journal, and Sundress Press’s Manticore: Hybrid Work from Hybrid Identities anthology. Her work often centers on the physical, visceral experiences of life, as well as ekphratic poetry and daily, mundane tasks. She’s also an avid fanfiction author and reader. In the future, she plans to attend seminary and become a pastor.
Jack Coleman (he/they) studied history, ancient studies, and linguistics at St. Olaf College and is thrilled to be in his first year of Butler’s Creative Writing program. Currently, he is studying fiction with the intent of writing sci-fi, fantasy, westerns, horror, romance, and goodness knows what else. Inspiration for his work comes from dreams, music, and movies as well as from books. Among his favorite books are The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Book of Khalid by Ameen Rihani, and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. His paper “Language, Ideology, and Myth: Racialism and Nationalism in the Development of Indo-European Studies” has been published in the undergraduate classics journal Philomathes.

Bridge Director

Elisabeth Speckman (she/her) received her MFA in Fiction from Butler University, where she also serves as an adjunct instructor, teaching courses in first-year studies, academic writing, screenwriting, and media literacy. As an actor and director, she has been involved in theatrical productions throughout the Indianapolis area. Her work appears in Midwestern Gothic, CHEAP POP, Pidgeonholes, Flash Fiction MagazineBest Men’s Monologues 2021 (Smith & Krause), and Stage It! 2: 30 Ten Minute Plays. Her plays have been produced throughout the United States as well as internationally.  She has developed work with the Yale Writers’ Conference (now Yale Writers’ Workshop), the Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive, 29th Street Playwrights Collective, The Bechdel Group, The Skeleton Rep(resents), and more. Her play, Brothers on a Hotel Bed, was also recently adapted and sold to an independent LA filmmaker.

Workshop teachers are all professional writers: either Butler writing professors, graduate students in Butler’s MFA program in creative writing, Butler MFA alumni, or qualified writers from the Indianapolis community.

Reminder: All Bridge events are held at the Efroymson Center for Creative Writing, located at 530 W. Hampton Drive, unless otherwise noted.