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Visiting Writers Series

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 2019 Schedule

Call Me By Your Name author André Aciman, doctor/poet/professor C. Dale Young, and bestselling novelist Lauren Groff are among the headliners for Butler University's spring 2019 Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series.

The spring series begins January 22 with poet Gregory Orr. He will be followed by Groff (January 31), poet and playwright Claudia Rankine (February 19), Young (March 20), essayist Eula Biss (April 4), and Aciman (April 16).

All events are free and open to the public without tickets. For more information, visit

For more information, call 317-940-9861

More about each author follows.


gregory orrGregory Orr

Tuesday, January 22, 7:30 PM
Schrott Center for the Arts

Considered by many to be a master of short, lyric free verse, Gregory Orr is the author of eleven collections of poetry. His most recent volumes include The River Inside the River (2013), How Beautiful The Beloved (2009), and Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved (2005).

Orr is also a writer of nonfiction and personal essays. This past year, he published A Primer for Poets and Readers of Poetry, in which, as a review in the Washington Post put it, Orr “serves as a sage and gentle guide, sharing wisdom about the creative process and how poetry can enrich those who embrace it.” Orr’s memoir The Blessing was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the fifty best non-fiction books of 2002. His personal essay “This I Believe” was broadcast on National Public Radio in 2006 and included in the anthology This I Believe (2007). His essay about working as a teenager for the Civil Rights movement in the Deep South was selected for The Best American Creative Nonfiction (2009).

Much of Orr’s early work is concerned with seminal events from his childhood, including a hunting accident when he was twelve in which he accidentally shot and killed his younger brother, followed shortly by his mother’s unexpected death, and his father’s later addiction to amphetamines. In the opening of his essay “The Making of Poems,” broadcast on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, Orr said, “I believe in poetry as a way of surviving the emotional chaos, spiritual confusions, and traumatic events that come with being alive.”

Orr has received many awards and fellowships, including an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA Fellowships, and a Rockefeller Fellowship at the Institute for the Study of Culture and Violence. He was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Poetry Prize.

Orr teaches at the University of Virginia where he founded the MFA Program in Writing in 1975 and served from 1978 to 2003 as Poetry Editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review.



Lauren GroffLauren Groff 
Thursday, January 31, 7:30 PM
Schrott Center for the Arts

Please note: This event is NOT cancelled. However, due to a simultaneous event in Clowes Hall, please allow extra time for parking.

Lauren Groff is a New York Times bestselling author of three novels: The Monsters of Templeton (2008), Arcadia (2011), and Fates and Furies (2015), which was a New York Times bestseller, a finalist for the National Book Award, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of the Year, and President Obama’s choice as his favorite book of 2015. Groff also wrote the celebrated short-story collection Delicate Edible Birds (2009), and her latest book Florida (2018) is a collection of interwoven short stories centered around her adopted home state. Groff’s work has appeared in a number of magazines, including The New YorkerHarper’s, and The Atlantic, and in several of the annual The Best American Short Stories anthologies.

Groff’s fiction has won the Paul Bowles Prize for Fiction, the Medici Book Club Prize, the PEN/O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize and has been shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers and been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. In 2017, she was named by Granta Magazine as one of the Best of Young American Novelists of her generation. In 2018, she received a Guggenheim fellowship in Fiction.



Claudia RankineClaudia Rankine
Tuesday, February 19, 7:30 PM
Schrott Center for the Arts

Recipient of a 2016 MacArthur Fellowship, Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric (2014) and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (2004), and several plays, including her first published one, The White Card, forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2019.  She is the editor of several anthologies, including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind (2015). She also co-produces a video series, “The Situation,” alongside John Lucas, and is the founder of the Open Letter Project: Race and the Creative Imagination.

Rankine’s bestselling book Citizen: An American Lyric uses poetry, essay, cultural criticism, and visual images to explore what it means to be an American citizen in an ostensibly “post-racial” society. A defining text for our time, Citizen was the winner of the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Collection, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry (it was also a finalist in the criticism category, making it the first book in the award’s history to be a double nominee), the NAACP Image Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for poetry. Citizen was nominated for the Hurston/Wright 2015 Legacy Award, was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award, and was selected as an NPR Best Book of 2014. Citizen also holds the distinction of being the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category.

Among her other numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, the Poets & Writers Jackson Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, United States Artists, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry.



C. Dale YoungC. Dale Young
Wednesday, March 20, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room

C. Dale Young is an award-winning poet and writer who practices medicine full-time and teaches in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. He is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Torn (2011) and The Halo (2016), and a novel in stories, The Affliction (2018). He is a recipient of fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Young is the 2017 recipient of the Hanes Award, given by the Fellowship of Southern Writers to recognize a distinguished body of work by a poet in midcareer. He is the first Latino, and first poet of Asian descent, to win the award. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in many anthologies and magazines, including The Best American PoetryAsian American Poetry: The Next GenerationAmerican Poetry ReviewThe Atlantic MonthlyThe NationThe New RepublicThe Paris Review, and POETRY. He lives in San Francisco.



Eula BissEula Biss in Conversation on "Writing as Life's Purpose"

Thursday, April 4, 7:30 PM

Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Co-sponsored with Butler University's Center for Faith and Vocation, we're pleased to present a candid conversation with Eula Biss about her personal journey to writing as vocation which fosters public dialogue on race, resistance, culture and identity. Eula Biss is the author of three books: On Immunity: An Inoculation (2014), named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction and chosen by Mark Zuckerberg for Facebook’s Year of Books; Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays (2009), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism and a collection of poetry, The Balloonists (2002). 

A frank and fascinating exploration of race and racial identity, Notes from No Man’s Land was described by Salon as “the most accomplished book of essays anyone has written or published so far in the 21st century. It provokes, troubles, charms, challenges, and occasionally hectors the reader, and it raises more questions than it answers. It is strident and brave in its unwillingness to offer comfort, and, unlike all but a handful of the best books I have ever read, it is unimpeachably great.”

Biss’ work has been supported by fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Howard Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as by a Jaffe Writers’ Award. She holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa and teaches writing at Northwestern University. Her essays have recently appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading and the Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Nonfiction as well as in The BelieverGulf CoastDenver QuarterlyThird Coast, The New York Times Magazine, and Harper’s.


Andre AcimanAndré Aciman

Tuesday, April 16, 7:30 PM

Atherton Union, Reilly Room

André Aciman is the author of the novels Harvard Square (2013), Eight White Nights (2010), and Call Me by Your Name (2007), the memoir Out of Egypt (1994), and the essay collections Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere (2011) and False Papers: Essays on Exile and Memory (2000). He also coauthored and edited The Proust Project and Letters of Transit (2004).

His work has appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, the New Republic, Granta Magazine, and the Paris Review, as well as in several volumes of The Best American Essays. He has won a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a fellowship from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

Aciman earned his Ph.D. and A.M. in comparative literature from Harvard University and a B.A. in English and comparative literature from Lehman College. Aciman is currently Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center of City University in New York. Previously he taught creative writing at New York University and French literature at Princeton University and Bard College.

Although his specialty is in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English, French, and Italian literature, he is especially interested in the theory of the psychological novel (roman d’analyse) across boundaries and eras. In addition to the history of literary theory, he teaches the work of Marcel Proust and the literature of memory and exile.

His novel Call Me by Your Name won the 2007 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction and was released as a film which won an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay in 2018.