Skip to main content
Campus Aerial

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.

Subscribe to Visiting Writers Series email updates

Like the Visiting Writers Series on Facebook

For accessibility information or to request disability-related accommodations, please visit


Fall 2018 Schedule

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Sharon Olds, novelist/critic/photographer Teju Cole, and a rescheduled appearance by Lynda Barry are among the highlights of Butler University's Fall 2018 Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series.

All events begin at 7:30 PM and all are free and open to the public without tickets. 

For more information, call 317-940-9861



Brando Skyhorse 
Thursday, September 6, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room


Brando Skyhorse’s debut novel The Madonnas of Echo Park received the 2011 PEN/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The book was also a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. Take This Man: A Memoir was an Amazon Best Book of the Month selection and was named by Kirkus Reviews as one the Best Nonfiction Books of the year.

Skyhorse has also co-edited an anthology, We Wear the Mask:15 True Stories About Passing in America. He has been awarded fellowships at Ucross Foundation and the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference and was the Jenny McKean Moore Writer in Washington Fellow at George Washington University. Skyhorse is an Associate Professor at Indiana University Bloomington, where he teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing. He is currently writing a new novel.



Lynda BarryLynda Barry 
Thursday, September 27, 7:30 PM
Atherton Union, Reilly Room


Lynda Barry is the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. In 1979, while pursuing a career as a painter, she began drawing a weekly comic strip that incorporated stories considered to be incompatible with comics at the time: stories, as Barry puts it, “that had a lot of trouble in them.” Widely credited with expanding the literary, thematic, and emotional range of American comics, Barry’s ground-breaking weekly strip, Ernie Pook's Comeek, ran for 30 years. Her graphic novel, What It Is, won the 2009 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work, and in 2016 she was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame. 

Barry has authored seventeen books, worked as a commentator for NPR, and had a regular monthly feature in Esquire, Mother Jones Magazine, and Mademoiselle, and on She created an album-length spoken word collection of stories called, The Lynda Barry Experience, and was a frequent guest on the Late Show with David Letterman.

She also adapted her novel The Good Times Are Killing Me into a long-running off-Broadway play. In 2008, her book One! Hundred! Demons! was required reading for all incoming freshmen at Stanford University. Her novel Cruddy has been translated into French, Italian, German, Catalan, and Hebrew. She is currently at work on an illustrated novel called Mr. Birdis and a documentary in comic book form about industrial scale wind farms in Wisconsin.


Donika Kelly
Thursday, October 4, 7:30 PM
Schrott Center for the Arts

Donika Kelly is the author of the chapbook Aviarium and the full-length collection Bestiary, which won the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry, was long listed for the National Book Award (2016), and was named a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award (2017).

Bestiary received an extraordinary amount of critical attention for a first book. The New York Times praised its “peculiar magnetism” and ability “to capture and refine emotion”; Publishers Weekly called it “an astounding debut”; and Booklist described it as “unflinching, fierce, and true.”

Kelly is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow, a finalist for the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Prize, and the recipient of a fellowship to the Fine Arts Work Center. She received her MFA in Writing from the Michener Center for Writers and a Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University. She is an Assistant Professor at St. Bonaventure University, where she teaches creative writing.




Sharon OldsSharon Olds
Monday, October 15, 7:30 PM
Schrott Center for the Arts


Sharon Olds is one of contemporary poetry’s leading voices. She is the winner of numerous awards and honors, including the Pulitzer Prize for her 2012 volume Stag’s Leap, which also received the T.S. Eliot Prize and was named one of Oprah’s Favorite Reads of the year. Olds has also received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Wallace Stevens Award, the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.

With sensuality, humor, conversational but propulsive rhythms, and remarkable imagery, she expresses truths about domestic and political violence, sexuality, family relationships, love, and the body. Often compared to “confessional” poets, she has been much praised for the courage, emotional power, and extraordinary physicality of her work. A reviewer for The New York Times hailed her poetry for its vision: “Like Whitman, Ms. Olds sings the body in celebration of a power stronger than political oppression.”

Olds’ poetry appeals to a wide audience and has been anthologized in more than one hundred collections and published in a number of journals and magazines, including The New Yorker, Paris Review, Poetry, Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times. Her most recent collection, Odes (2016), addresses a wide range of topics, such as gender, age, and sexual politics.  

She served as the New York State Poet Laureate from 1998 to 2000 and held the position of Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2006 to 2012. Olds has been elected a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She teaches in the graduate writing program at New York University.




Teju ColeTeju Cole
Tuesday, November 13, 7:30 PM
Schrott Center for the Arts


A prodigious novelist, critic, and photographer, Teju Cole was born in the United States and raised in Nigeria—a biographical fact that informs much of his work. His first novel, Open City, won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the New York City Book Award for Fiction, the Internationaler Literaturpreis, and the Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction and was also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award. Additionally, Open City was named to “best of the year” lists in many publications including The Guardian, Newsweek, The Atlantic, and The New York Times.

His novella Every Day Is for the Thief  has been “widely praised as one of the best fictional depictions of Africa in recent memory” (The New Yorker) and was named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Telegraph, The Globe and Mail, and NPR.

Named one of Time’s Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2017, Cole’s most recent book, Blind Spot, is a synthesis of his own full-color photos, each accompanied by selections of lyrical prose. His previous title, Known and Strange Things, was named to that same Time list in 2016 and also was chosen for Kirkus Reviews’ Best Nonfiction of 2016 list and Harper’s Bazaar’s 13 Best Books of 2016.

Cole teaches literature and art history at Bard College, where he is Distinguished Writer in Residence and Achebe Fellow.



(All events are at 7:30 PM)

Gregory Orr

Tuesday, January 22

Schrott Center for the Arts


Lauren Groff

Thursday, January 31

Schrott Center for the Arts


Claudia Rankine

Tuesday, February 19

Schrott Center for the Arts


C. Dale Young

Wednesday, March 20

Atherton Union, Reilly Room


Eula Biss

Thursday, April 4

Atherton Union, Reilly Room


André Aciman

Tuesday, April 16

Atherton Union, Reilly Room