10 Reasons to Move to Indianapolis


Often misunderstood, Indianapolis is a diverse and politically blue city in a red state which has been earning national attention:  Most Affordable Cities(#2), Forbes’ America’s 20 Best Cities For Young Professionals (#10),  Top 10 Best Downtowns (#3), World’s Most Livable Cities. Restaurants like Bluebeard and Milktooth (both featured in Gourmet magazine) have elevated the Indianapolis food scene to make it one of Zagat’s Top 26 Food Cities. The serious food and drink culture combined with a “100-acre sculpture park, a scenic downtown canal rowed by kayaks and gondolas, an authentic duckpin bowling alley, and the largest children’s museum in the world” earn Indy a spot on Conde Nast’s Most Underrated Cities.  

Many of our students and faculty have moved from other cities and have good things to say about it:

  1. Mike Pence is no longer in Indianapolis, but John Green is, and he’s “a real fan” of Indianapolis. “There’s a vibrant culture here and a lot of value placed on hard work and innovation. This makes it a useful place for me to live, because I am surrounded by the kind of experience I want to write about.” John Green has a slew of other reasons for loving Indy you can read in this essay.
  2. “You get to be a Hoosier. Like, what even is that?” – Bailey Merlin, Fiction candidate, moved from Florida
  3. More than $5 billion has been invested into the downtown Indianapolis area since 1990. It boasts unique shops, local restaurants, ever-changing exhibits, a 250-acre urban park, sports, festivals, concerts, and an 8-mile cultural trail connecting distinct neighborhoods and displaying outdoor art. Even the New York Times noted Indianapolis’ improvements as a bike-friendly city.
  4. “I love riding my bike canal-side to Holcomb gardens to read beneath the willow trees, getting my favorite pick-me-up — the “White Zombie” at Monon Coffee — and Sunday brunch at Milktooth followed by an afternoon at Tapper’s arcade bar. Broad Ripple is an artsy neighborhood in walkable distance to thrift shops, restaurants & live music. I’ve met awesome people here — students, professors, neighbors alike — who have given my poetry a Midwest home.” – Natalie Tombasco, Poetry candidate, moved from Staten Island
  5. 60,000 fans of board games, comics, and nerd culture attended Indy’s Gen Con in 2016 — the longest-running, best-attended gaming event in North America.
  6. “The counter-culture here is supercharged: it has to be. And we have more breweries per person than any other state.” – Hilene Flanzbaum, MFA director, moved from Philadelphia
  7. Indianapolis is the most sexually satisfied city in the country according to Men’s Health magazine.
  8. “We have six different species of turtle living in the White River Canal, which is insane to me. That seems like a lot.” – John Eckerd, Fiction candidate, moved from Texas
  9. Indy’s a tidy little secret with lots of cool people, cheap housing, and zero pretense. Cozy up with one of our cheerfully sardonic locals and prepare to spend a single-digit number of dollars on drinks.  – Greg O’Neill, Fiction candidate, from Indianapolis
  10. Neighborhood bar, Red Key Tavern, is a perennial Best Bar in America in Esquire, not to mention one of Buzzfeed’s 12 Historic Bars Every Book Nerd Needs To Visit joining a list that includes Oxford, Madrid, and Paris. If you go to the Red Key to write, you will not be alone … but you will be “alone.”


Hoosier Winterland

As classes come to an end, students make plans for the long winter break. Despite the cooler temperature, our city is far from hibernation. It is livelier than ever, filled with exciting things to do and see all month. All students and alumni are invited to the annual MFA holiday party on December 10th. While there, gather a group to check out Indianapolis in December.

Event descriptions are taken from event websites. 

Classic Outdoor Activities

Sledding: Some argue the best sledding in Indianapolis is the Butler University football stadium, but since it’s not clear if it’s officially allowed, try Fort Harrison State Park, 6000 N. Post Road, Indianapolis. A massive sledding hill provides plenty of space for everyone.

Toboggan: The toboggan Run at Pokagon State Park is worth the drive to the northern part of the state. The run is thirty feet high, a quarter mile long, and has reached a recorded speed of 42 mph. 


imgres-3Cross Country Skiing: Eagle Creek, a short drive from campus, offers cross country skiing rentals and trails. Bonus: winter is the prime time for spotting bald eagles in Indiana. 

Ice Skating: Indiana State Fairgrounds, just a few miles from campus, is the perfect spot for beginners or pros. 

Snow Tubing: Paoli Peaks, about an hour from campus, offers skiing, snowboarding and Arctic Blast tubing for winter thrill seekers. 

Christmas light displays

2016_i500_holidayevent_1600x800Lights at the Brickyard

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will bring new levels of cheer to this holiday season with a spectacular “Lights at the Brickyard” seasonal event. Attendees will experience more than 40 scenes filled with 400 light displays along a 1.7-mile driving experience, which includes crossing the famous “Yard of Bricks” at IMS.


Festival of Trees – The Indiana Historical Society’s annual Festival of Trees presents 72 elaborately themed trees. New themes will play off recent events, such as the World Series and Indiana’s Bicentennial Torch Relay, as well as pop culture favorites, such as Disney’s Frozen and Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. Guests will enjoy live, local holiday music while taking in the magic of the trees at night.

imgres-1Circle of Lights – Circle of Lights is the world’s largest Christmas tree, complete with nearly 5,000 lights and 52 garland strands streaming from Indy’s beloved 242-foot tall Soldiers and Sailors Monument. This tree has been named by Travelocity as one of the top five must-see Christmas trees in the nation.

Christmas at the Zoo – Dating back to 1967, the Indianapolis Zoo was the first zoo in the United States to hold a holiday lights event. At every twist and turn you’re sure to enjoy the sparkling twinkle of 100 percent LED light displays that will adorn Zoo grounds, making Christmas at the Zoo a great place to create holiday memories! USA Today’s 10 Best Zoo Lights  ranked Christmas at the Zoo in the top five nationwide.

Indianapolis Museum of Art

imgresChristmas at the Lilly HouseNow through January 8th – Share the season at the IMA! On the short walk to Oldfields-Lilly House from the main Museum building, you will be greeted by a lit path of holiday lights. Upon entering the mansion, discover a surprising array of winter bulbs and holiday floral arrangements. The house will come alive with flowers including stunning displays of poinsettias, amaryllises, cyclamens, and paper-whites.

Holiday Hullabaloo, December 1st – Enjoy an evening of holiday shopping and festivities at this year’s expanded Holiday Hullabaloo featuring specials and free gift wrapping all day long! During the evening, enjoy live music, trunk shows by local and national artists and jewelers, and luminaries throughout the gardens.

Winter Solstice, December 23rd – Bundle up for the annual Winter Solstice celebration! Snap a family photo next to Karl Unnasch’s “tree” of toys and with Santa. At this festive celebration, visit Christmas at Lilly House, sing along with carolers, create winter art, meet arctic creatures and watch blocks of ice transform into sculptures at this all ages family event. Warm up by the fire with sweet and savory treats from General American Donut Co., Pi Indy pizza, and Sun King Brewing Co.


Treats & Drinks

Don’t forget to enjoy the best part of the season – relaxing. Grab your writer’s notebook or laptop and enjoy a treat while you write.

Brics – Best known as a summer hot spot on the Monon Trail, the Broad Ripple ice cream shop offers warm treats for winter hikers like s’mores kits and hot chocolate.

Best Chocolate in Town – Located on Mass Ave, a few steps from Indy Reads Bookstore, this chocolate shop serves Indy’s top rated hot chocolate. Books and hot chocolate – is there a better way to spend a winter day?

Nicey Treat – Like cold treats on a cold day, weirdo? Try a hot chocolate popsicle at Nicey Treat,916 E Westfield Blvd, a bike ride from campus.

South Bend Chocolate Company – While checking out the Circle of Lights, be sure to try one of the many different flavored hot chocolates offered by the South Bend Chocolate Company, located right on the circle. They also have an assortment of seasonal goodies like candy cane fudge and Christmas crunch popcorn.



MFA Alum in Creative Nonfiction

2b184a019c166b5391df731763b5d2f0Congratulations to Butler MFA graduate, Laura Kendall. Not only is she a  new bookstore owner, she will also be published in Creative Nonfiction. One of the most prestigious and selective literary magazines in the country, Creative Nonfiction is an achievement for any nonfiction writer. Laura said, “This was the only place I submitted this piece, because I didn’t want it to go to just any publication. I’m pretty happy I aimed big with this one.”

Laura read part of the essay, “An Equation, Solve for Father,” at the Butler MFA graduate reading last May. “It’s a piece about the complicated (still) feelings I have toward my dad due to his having Asperger’s,” Laura said.

Laura’s essay will appear in the Winter 2017 issue due out in January.


In Thanksgiving

The Butler creative writing program gathered together to celebrate Thanksgiving, MFA style — abundant food, plenty of drink, and student readings. Thanks to all who joined in the merriment. A special thank you to Denise who prepared the Turkey in addition to several of her delicious sides.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the blog asked the MFA community what was about the program that made them thankful.


screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-12-43-05-pmKarin Salisbury: It’s a home away from home. I’m grateful for insightful faculty, supportive staff, and faithful friends I adore. I am also grateful for the many outreach programs, including Writing for Wellness.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-12-42-10-pmLuke Wortely: Writing in the Schools

10432493_10205035526105499_5936786788337307588_nLydia Johnson: I’m thankful for friendships, writing support, encouragement and being a part of a community of writers and the Butler community at large. Also that the programs and events are open to alumni so that we can still be involved!

John Eckerd: I touched Kaveh Akbar’s leg once.