VWS: Lev Grossman

grossmanPhoto credit: Shoot for the Moon!

Thanks to the Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series, Butler students were treated to a discussion, reading, and Q & A with New York Times best-selling writer, Lev Grossman. Before reading a selection from The Magician King, the fantasy writer spent a large amount of time during his public reading discussing literary fantasy, and how he found his voice in the genre. He talked about ideas and inspiration and explained many of his choices in his popular series, The Magicians.

“I always planned on being a literary novelist,” Grossman said. “The Magicians began as thought experiment…. I wanted to see how Hemmingway or Virgina Woolf would describe magic.” Grossman focused on using all five senses to explain magic. He made his hero not such a good guy and his mission unclear.

In the student Q & A the day following his reading, Grossman answered many difficult questions about the unlikable narrator and his many flaws. Grossman admitted it was intentional to create a more real life hero. “I wanted wizards to feel as lost as I did.” Grossman wrote the Magicians while battling depression. “I’d lie in bed, look out the window at all the normal people, and think, ‘Wow. They are magicians.'”

After his reading, Grossman went to the nearby dive bar, the Red Key, where it was rumored Kurt Vonnegut often wrote. Later, it was discovered that was a wild fantasy, and Vonnegut never went there. But now Lev Grossman has!

More Big Publishing News

Our Butler MFA students and alums continue to announce exciting news about their work.

12743679_10106000690844378_3462442359712497869_nPoetry Alum Kaveh Akbar signed a contract with Sibling Rivalry Press to publish his chapbook, Portrait of the Alcoholic. Kaveh calls Sibling Rivalry Press a “dream home for this chap.” The book will come out January 2017. “It’s all a little mind-boggling,” Kaveh said. “A few years ago my life was so unrecognizably different, was just an excruciating lurch from crisis to crisis. Now, this life of poems and poem-makers. It seems such an impossible luck. I can speak only in gratitudes.”

Kaveh is also the editor of the high praised blog, Divedapper, where he interviews his heroes in the poetry world. Perhaps he’ll have to interview himself. Congratulations, Kaveh!



Top Local Restaurants


We at the Butler MFA love to eat, and we’re lucky to have so many excellent local restaurants nearby. Visit Indy just came out with a list of the top twenty-five best local Indy restaurants that included many of Butlers MFAs’ favorite eateries.

Patachou, a radically different, radically better brunch restaurant and Napolese, an artisan, stone hearth pizza, are popular spots for author dinners and lunches as well as carry out for meetings on campus.

Bazbeaux Pizza is a frequent site at the ECCW; Both Dialogue and Booth round tables frequently order Bazbeaux, as do several professors to reward hard working classes. Yats, a local New Orleans joint serving Cajun and creole, is another frequent meal for Booth round-tables.

MFA administrator Mindy Dunn often recommends Milktooth, the restaurant earning “Best New Restaurant” by Bon Appetit in 2015, among numerous other accolades. Milktooth is a hip, stylish restaurant serving unconventionally creative morning fare. Though it’s not as close to Butler’s campus as some of the others on the list, it is possible to bike there or take a blueindy car and is worth the travel.

The Visit Indy top twenty-five list covers many delicious eateries, but we Hoosiers do love to eat local, and many more great spots are on the Butler MFA favorite list.

Broad Ripple Brewpub – The site of many after workshop bonding sessions, the Brewpub is a favorite of MFA students. Owned by Butler MFA alum Nancy Hill and her husband John, the Brewpub is the oldest microbrewery in the state.

The Tamale Place – Students are thrilled anytime the Tamale Place is served at Booth round table. Discovered by Rob Stapleton, the editor of Booth, the Tamale Place serves huge Mexican Tamales weighing a half a pound each.

3 Sisters – A top request at the Poetry Luncheons, this Broad Ripple restaurant serves a big selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes.

La Mulita – Serving casual cantina style Latin “street foods,” La Mulita is one of professor Barden’s top recommendations for local restaurants.

Saigon– MFA Director, Hilene Flanzbaum, says her favorite is Saigon. It serves Vietnamese dishes; if you go, be sure to order the Vietnamese pancakes!

If just reading this list made you hungry, be sure to invite an MFA with you and go enjoy!


Dialogue: A New Hope

Dialogue1The student-run workshop, Dialogue, has rebooted and is back with a Vengeance. Organized by MFA fiction student, Tristan Durst, Dialogue meets monthly. Almost two dozen students attended the January meeting, Dialogue3: Dialogue with a Vengeance, with all three writing genres well represented.

Tristan creates a clever name for each session to set the tone of fun and wit, food is provided, and the workshop is kept casual. Volunteers read a few pages of their work aloud, and all are invited to give initial thoughts and reactions. Because Butler MFAs are all supportive of each other’s writing goals, the feedback is encouraging and the authors are appreciative.

Though many benefit from the workshop, perhaps the biggest draw of Dialogue is the community of writers. More time is spent in conversation, discussing writer and student life, and general shenanigans. Tristan says, “It’s a chance to meet people outside your genre or year, to share your work in an environment less intimidating than a formal workshop setting, and it’s just a nice way to unwind on Friday night.”

Come for food, come for laughs, or come for feedback. Whatever your reason, Dialogue is a great place to be. Dialogue IV: A New Hope will meet this Friday, February 19th, 6:00 at the ECCW.

Writing and Yoga: A Mindful Combination

IMG_1906Yoga instructor, adjunct Butler professor, and recent Butler MFA graduate, Emma Hudelson, conducted the first 2016 conversations@efryomson event: Wordbending: The Yoga of Writing. Emma admitted she usually does not condone pairing yoga with something else. However, yoga and creative writing seemed like a natural fit.

“Writing, done mindfully, can be part of a yoga practice just like asanas are,” Emma wrote on her blog. “Writing is the process of quieting and focusing the mind enough that meaningful language can be produced. According to Yoga Sutra 1.2-1.3, ‘Yoga is the mastery of the activities of the mind. Then the seer rests in its true nature.’ Sounds similar, no?”

The participants in the workshop agreed. “My event last week was more of an experiment than a workshop,” Emma wrote. “What happens if you do a little light asana (Surya Namaskar A and the three closing lotuses) to help writers focus, then give them some prompts? They write. And, unless they were lying to me, they write usefully.”

If you were unable to attend the workshop, Emma was kind enough to explain the workshop on The Buddhi Blog so you can try it yourself. Happy wordbending!