Bestselling author Cheryl Strayed, acclaimed war novelist Tim O’Brien, and award-winning poet Victor Hernández Cruz are among the headliners for Butler University’s spring 2014 Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series.
Cruz opens the series on January 28, followed by poet Lorna Dee Cervantes (February 12), O’Brien (March 6), poet D. Nurkse (March 26), Strayed (March 31), and National Book Award-winning novelist Jesmyn Ward (April 8). Times and locations are below.
All talks in the series are free and open to the public without tickets. For more information, call (317) 940-9861.
More information about each speaker follows.
Victor Hernandez Cruz
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28
Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall
Cruz is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including In the Shadow of Al-Andalus (Coffee House Press, 2011); The Mountain in the Sea (Coffee House Press, 2006); and Maraca: New and Selected Poems 1965-2000 (Coffee House Press, 2001), which was selected for the shortlist of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and the International Griffin Poetry Prize.
Cruz is a co-founder of both the East Harlem Gut Theatre in New York and the Before Columbus Foundation and a former editor of Umbra Magazine. He has taught at the University of California at Berkeley and San Diego, San Francisco State College, and the University of Michigan.
His honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He was elected as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2008.
Lorna Dee Cervantes
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12
Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall
Lorna Dee Cervantes is an award-winning Chicana, Native American, feminist, activist poet who is considered one of the major Chicana poets of the past 40 years. Her books include Ciento: 100 100-Word Love Poems (Wings Press, 2011), From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love and Hunger (Arte Público Press, 1991), and Emplumada (1981), which won an American Book Award.
She is also co-editor of Red Dirt, a cross-cultural poetry journal, and her work has been included in many anthologies including Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry (eds. Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Jennifer Gillan, 1994), No More Masks! An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Women Poets (ed. Florence Howe, 1993), and After Aztlan: Latino Poets of the Nineties (ed. Ray González, 1992). She is the director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6
Atherton Union Reilly Room
O’Brien attended Macalester College and served as an infantryman in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1970. He completed graduate studies at Harvard University and worked briefly as a reporter at The Washington Post before launching his literary career with the publication of If I Die in a Combat Zone in 1973. This straightforward memoir about the despair and futility of being a soldier established him as a leading writer of the Vietnam generation.
After his memoir, O’Brien wrote Northern Lights (1975), Going After Cacciato (1978), which won the 1979 National Book Award, The Things They Carried (1990), which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, In the Lake of the Woods (1994), Tomcat in Love (1998), and July, July (2000). He teaches at Texas State University—San Marcos.
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 26
Robertson Hall Johnson Boardroom
D. Nurkse is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including The Rules of Paradise (2001), The Fall (2003), and The Border Kingdom (2008). In free-verse, lyric poems, Nurkse explore subjects both intimate and political: children, families, love, and the effects of war.
Nurkse has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Tanne Foundation Award. He also has been the poet laureate of Brooklyn.
Nurkse has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing, and Rikers Island Correctional Facility. He has also worked for human rights organizations, writing on human rights issues under his full name, Dennis Nurkse, and was elected to the board of directors of Amnesty International USA.
7:30 p.m. Monday, March 31
Clowes Memorial Hall
Cheryl Strayed is the author of The New York Times bestsellers Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things, and the novel Torch. Wild was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Jean-Marc Vallée is directing the film adaptation of Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon, with a screenplay by Nick Hornby.
Strayed’s writing has appeared in The Best American Essays, The New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, The Missouri Review, The Sun, The Rumpus—where she has written the popular “Dear Sugar” column since 2010—and elsewhere.
Her books have been translated into more than 30 languages around the world. She holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota.
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 8
Atherton Union Reilly Room
Jesmyn Ward won the National Book Award in 2011 for her second novel, Salvage the Bones. Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, was an Essence Magazine Book Club selection, a Black Caucus of the ALA Honor Award recipient, and a finalist for both the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award.
Ward grew up in DeLisle, Miss. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won five Hopwood awards for essays, drama, and fiction. She was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford from 2008-2010 and the 2010-2111 Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi.
Her latest book is a memoir, Men We Reaped.