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Visiting Writers Series

Now in its 30th anniversary year, the Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series regularly hosts public readings and Q & A sessions with some of the most influential people in contemporary literature. During their time at Butler University, visiting authors such as Toni Morrison, Billy Collins, Kurt Vonnegut, Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Atwood, Allen Ginsberg, Amy Tan, and Colson Whitehead not only share their work with the Indianapolis community, but also interact directly with undergraduate and graduate students in Butler's English classes and MFA program. Towards this end, Butler offers a 300-level English course which features the work of authors in the Visiting Writers Series. Students taking this class are invited to join English faculty in a private dinner given for each writer when they visit the campus, and have the opportunity to formally introduce the writers at their public readings.

The Visiting Writers Program is coordinated by the Department of English and offers 10-12 events each year, all of which are free and open to Butler students, faculty, and staff as well as the Indianapolis community, making the Butler University Visiting Writers Series one of the largest and most comprehensive in the country.

To make special arrangements for school groups, book clubs, and community organizations, call 317-940-9861. 

The Visiting Writers Series appreciates the generous support of the Vivian S. Delbrook Fund and the NEH Ayres Fund.

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Spring 2020 Schedule


Our spring series begins with a poetry reading by Academy of American Poets Chancellor, Marie Howe (Jan. 21), followed by essayist/novelist/memoirist, Carmen Machado (Feb. 5), Lambda Literary Pioneer Award winner, Kate Bornstein (Mar. 24), National Book Critics Circle Award-winning poet, Ada Limón (Apr. 2), and the prolific master of multiple genres, Percival Everett (Apr. 14). 

We are pleased to announce that all Visiting Writers Series events now take place in Shelton Auditorium, located at 1000 W. 42nd St. on Butler University's South Campus. Described as, "One of the most unique and beautiful auditoriums in Indianapolis," Shelton Auditorium features incredible acoustics, ample stadium seating, and free on-site surface parking in the lots off Haughey St. and West 42nd St. 

Driving directions from your location to Shelton Auditorium.

Map of South Campus with Shelton Auditorium and Parking Lot

All events are free and open to the public without tickets. 

For more information, call (317) 940-9861

More about each author follows.


Due to the on-going impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Butler University is suspending Butler sponsored events of more than 50 people through April 4th out of the highest concern for the health, safety, and wellness of our campus community. With great disappointment and an abundance of caution regarding the well being of our patrons, we have decided to cancel all three of the remaining events in our Spring 2020 Visiting Writers Series.



Kate BornsteinCANCELLED

Kate Bornstein
Tuesday, March 24, 7:30 PM
Shelton Auditorium

In 1986, in her thirties, Kate Bornstein—who had been born Albert Bornstein—underwent gender affirmation surgery. However, just as she had not identified herself as male, she felt a falseness in identifying as female. As Bornstein wrote in The New York Times in 2019, “I realized that by being ‘not-man/not-woman,’ I was nothing. There was no word or place for me in the binary gender system. At first, it scared me. But it didn’t take me long to enjoy my outsider status. As neither/nor—as nothing—my life was starting to make sense. When it comes to gender and sexuality, I am nothing but possibilities.”

For thirty years, Bornstein has been writing—with boldness and humor—about nonbinary gender identity, in books such as Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us (2016) and her memoir A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She Is Today (2013). Bornstein appeared in the 2018 feature film Saturday Church, was a regular cast member of the second season of the reality TV series I Am Cait, with Caitlyn Jenner, and was the subject of a documentary, Kate Bornstein Is a Queer and Pleasant Danger, released in 2014.

That same year, Bornstein was awarded the Pioneer Award by Lambda Literary, an organization devoted to nurturing and advocating for the work of LGBTQ writers.





Ada Limón

Thursday, April 2, 7:30 PM

Shelton Auditorium

The poems of Ada Limón explore the large, unavoidable subjects that come with being human: death and loss, art and faith, and the strange, vulnerable miracle of existing in a body. Her writing is precise in its attention to the details of our everyday, intimate, private lives while at the same time being conscious of broader political and social concerns that intersect with those lives.

Former United States Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith calls Limón “a poet of ecstatic revelation” whose work is marked by “deep wisdom and urgent vulnerability.”

Limón has published five books of poetry, most recently The Carrying, winner of the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. Her other books are Lucky Wreck (2006), This Big Fake World (2006), Sharks in the Rivers (2010), and Bright Dead Things (2015), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

Limón teaches in the low-residency M.F.A. program of Queens University of Charlotte, as well as in the on-line program of the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She divides her time between Lexington, Kentucky, and Sonoma, California, where she was raised.




Percival Everett


Percival Everett 
Tuesday, April 14, 7:30 PM
Shelton Auditorium

 Percival Everett is a prolific master of many genres who has been on the literary scene in the United States since 1983. His work includes crime novels (The Body of Martin AguileraWatershed, Assumption), revisionist Westerns (God’s CountryWalk Me to the Distance, Wounded), retellings of Greek myth (ZulusFor Her Dark SkinFrenzy), a children's book (The One That Got Away), several collections of poetry, and four books of stories. 

Most admired for his satirical novels, Erasure (2001), I Am Not Sidney Poitier (2009), and Percival Everett by Virgil Russell (2013), Everett has been awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in Fiction (2015), as well as a long list of prizes, among others: the Believer Book Award, Huston/Wright Legacy Award, Premio Vallombrosa Gregor von Rezzori Prize (Italy), The Charles Angoff Award, The Dos Passos Prize in Literature, PEN USA Literary Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters, Literature Award, and Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Fellowship. 

 Born in Georgia, Everett grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. Considered an important Southern author, he has lived the majority of his life in the West. He maintains no online presence and eschews publicity and self-promotion. He holds a philosophy degree from the University of Miami, and a Master’s in fiction from Brown University, where he wrote his first book, Suder (1983). Currently, he is a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California.