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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.


Marie HoweMarie Howe

Tuesday, January 21, 7:30 PM
Shelton Auditorium

For more than thirty years, poet Marie Howe has been transforming ordinary life into extraordinary visions. As Arthur Sze, the most recent National Book Award winner for poetry, has said, “Her poems are acclaimed for writing through loss with verve, but they also find the miraculous in the ordinary and transform quotidian incidents into enduring revelation.” As Howe herself puts it, she is obsessed “with the metaphysical, the spiritual dimensions of life as they present themselves in this world."

Howe’s most recent volume of poetry is Magdalene (2018), which was long-listed for the National Book Award. Her other books are The Good Thief (1999), a National Poetry Series selection; The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (2009), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and What the Living Do (1999), a wrenching, plain-spoken elegy for her brother John, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1989.

Howe has received numerous honors, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Bunting Institute. From 2012 to 2014, she served as Poet Laureate of New York State, and in 2018 she was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She lives in New York City, where she teaches at New York University and Sarah Lawrence College.




Carmen MachadoCarmen Machado
Wednesday, February 5, 7:30 PM
Shelton Auditorium

Carmen Maria Machado is an essayist, critic, and fiction writer. Her work defies and blends genres of nonfiction and surrealism, fantasy and fable, memoir and horror.

Her debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was long-listed for the National Book Award before it was even published in 2017. It was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Kirkus Prize, and it was the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction, the Brooklyn Public Library Literature Prize, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. 

Machado’s much-awaited second book, a speculative memoir In the Dream House, just released in November 2019, is, as Lila Shapiro has written in Vulture, “both a memoir of her toxic relationship with her first girlfriend and a history of queer domestic violence with chapters that dance between genres. Some read like fairy tales, others like horror stories; there’s a choose-your-own-adventure section.”

Growing up in Pennsylvania, an hour north of Philadelphia, in a household where story-telling was always present, Machado learned about stories through reading, as well as oral tradition. Her grandparents were immigrants; one of her grandfathers left Cuba at 18.

Machado holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Guggenheim Foundation, Michener- Copernicus Foundation, Elizabeth George Foundation, CINTAS Foundation, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. Currently, she is the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, and lives in Philadelphia with her wife. 




Kate BornsteinKate 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 LimónAda 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.