The Butler University MFA has a team of people working to ensure the most successful experience for students. Throughout the year, this blog will present a who’s who in the program and what they can do for you.
Mindy Dunn, the friendly MFA program administrator has an office on the top floor of the Efroymson Center for Creative Writing and an always-ready smile. Besides stocking the kitchen with tea, coffee, and snacks, she keeps busy helping MFA students and applicants. Though she has about a hundred responsibilities, she especially enjoys working with students.
What are your main roles for the MFA program?
I can field any question an MFA student, or potential student, has. If I don’t know the answer, I can get them to the person who does know the answer. This includes questions about classes, what they should be taking, if they are having problems registering, or if they want to meet with the MFA director. I can give advice about what types of things they should be getting involved in, like Bridge, Writing in the Schools, or our creative writing for wellness project. I even give advice about living in Indianapolis. I am also in charge of the Efroymson Center so if they have something they want to use the house for, I’d be the person to give approval. I work on the conversations@efryomson series. I’m the coordinator for the bridge program, so I hire all the mentors and workshop teachers who work for that. I also help with Writing in the Schools with administrative stuff.
I also think you are an all around general therapist. You are always willing to have a conversation with anyone about anything.
Yes! I’m always here to talk to students about anything on their minds. The people I get to meet and work with are the best part of my job.
You received your MFA in Poetry from Purdue. If you were an MFA student at Butler, what classes would you take?
I always hear everyone rave about Allison Lynn’s Reading Like a Writer class, so I’d love to take that even though it’s prose. I’d take David Shumate’s Prose Poems and Flash Fiction. I hope to sit in on Hilene’s Whitman and Dickinson’s class in the Spring. I’m really excited about that.
What is your favorite thing about the ECCW?
I just like it when it’s full of people. I like to see MFA’s using it. I love this semester’s writing club. People just show up. I love it when Ty [an MFA student] just shows up and makes monkey bread.
You also run the poetry lunch hours here at the ECCW. Why did you start them?
I started them because I don’t teach classes anymore, but I wanted a chance to personally talk about poetry. A little selfish, but now it’s one of my favorite parts of my job because I get to share the thing I’m really passionate about.
They are really well attended. Why do you think all students and faculty, not just poets, benefit from the poetry lunches?
It’s always smart conversation. It may start off about a specific poem or poet, but we always have bigger conversations.
I’d like to add there’s also good food.
Yes! And also, even if you are new to poetry, we are very welcoming.
Where is the best place to get lunch around here?
Taste. Everything there is so good. Or LaMulita. They have really good tacos.
Where’s your favorite place to get coffee?
Well, I drink tea. The best place to get tea is here in the house. We usually have lots of options in the kitchen so I just go down and make it here.
I know you love your family. Tell me a little about them.
I live with my husband Brian and two-year-old son, Cormac. Brian is an English teacher at Franklin Central high school and cross country coach. I met Brian as an undergraduate here at Butler. Since he also went to Butler he’s had people like Hilene and Dan as professors, too, so they all know each other. Cormac also has a connection to the Butler MFA. I brought him into work with me until he was about nine months old. Elisabeth Giffin [an MFA student] came in to be his nanny. There are plug covers in the room across the hall I still haven’t taken out.
What book have you read in the last year that you would recommend?
For straight-up literary-novel: either The Goldfinch or The Secret History by Donna Tartt. The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett is great historical fiction. I’m just finishing up a great YA fantasy/sci-fi series called The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer that I love because it uses fairy tale plots. I’ve also read about 350 picture books to Cormac this year, we’re trying to get to 1,000; Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is our family favorite. And, of course poetry: I loved Ada Limon’s Bright Dead Things.
What advice do you have for MFA students?
I help decide who gets hired for MFA-funded jobs so for new MFAs or MFAs wanting to get involved or get funding, make sure I know who you are. I should know what your interests, passions, and experiences are. This is a good excuse to stop by and say Hi!