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Since December 2011, the Efroymson Center for Creative Writing has been the central hub of Butler’s MFA program. Thanks to a $1-million grant from the Efroymson Family Fund, the department purchased a home on the corner of Hampton and Sunset and remodeled the building to include an apartment and several large rooms for readings and discussion groups. Throughout the year, the ECCW is the home for writers-in-residence, visiting authors, and both graduate and undergraduate workshops. The Center’s dark wood walls and built-in shelves create a warm and intimate setting, which is a nice alternative to the formality of larger venues. To utilize the space, the MFA program has designed a new public reading series called conversations@efroymson that features more interactive events featuring writers from a wide range of genres, including screenwriting, digital storytelling, blogging, graphic novels, spiritual writing, and more as a complement to the long-running Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series.
Walking into the Efroymson Center is a bit like walking into a friend’s house. Downstairs, the rooms are all business, with studying and discussion spaces in a clean, classical environment. Past the kitchen, the Center has a fully-furnished apartment to house visiting writers and lecturers. Former Butler MFA faculty member and current Brooklyn-based poet Micah Ling recently stayed at the ECCW while working at Butler’s summer Creative Writing Camp. Ling described the Center’s accommodations as “pretty awesome,” which is the consensus of current faculty, staff, and students as well.
The Efroymson Center for Creative Writing also earned a prestigious name drop from a local arts and entertainment publication last week. NUVO Newsweekly released their highly-anticipated Best of Indy list, an annual contest voted on by NUVO readers. This year, readers voted Butler University as the Best Local College/University, with a special shout-out from the editors to both the Visiting Writers Series and the ECCW: “Its authors’ series continues to bring in some of the best and brightest across poetry and prose, some of whom end up stopping by the Efroymson Center for Creative Writing for an in-depth workshop or additional talk.”
Perhaps the best part about the Center is that Butler’s writers finally get a place to call home. Writing can be a laborious and mercurially frustrating way to spend your energy, but the process somehow seems more friendly and toothsome in an environment dedicated to that pursuit. The ECCW sits politely just outside the boundary of campus proper and waits for students to flee the tumult of the more populated areas for the tranquility of being surrounded by peers, books, professors, and visiting writers. Consider it the windowed reading nook of Butler’s campus–a kind of “natural habitat” for writers and readers to gather. It has all the necessary ingredients: the wood, the darkness, the smell of aging paper, and a calm that inspires a sense of tranquil determination–all the necessary ingredients for finally tackling that last (or first) paragraph.
The Efroymson Center proves priceless whenever MFA students gather for a graduation party or a visiting author feels a sense of home instead of experiencing another impersonal hotel room stay. In a short time, the ECCW has already become another symbol of the generosity of spirit that permeates Butler University and the city of Indianapolis, as well as a constant reminder that the community loves great writing as much as we do.