Butler Tabs “Tarkington Writer in Residence”

I thought I had mentioned this once before, and am terribly embarrassed to find I have not!

Last September, Indiana’s Butler University announced that the “Tarkington Writer-in-Residence for 2010-2011 is Michael Dahlie, author of A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living, and winner of the 2009 PEN/Hemingway Award for best first novel.”

So some explanations are probably in order.  First, Butler University is connected to Booth Tarkington through family ties, his mother being of the same Butlers that endowed Butler University.

Second, Butler’s website explains the deal with “writers in residence”:

Every year, the MFA-Creative Writing program hosts several writers for extended visits: these writers meet with the MFA students in social settings, lead classroom discussions, read manuscripts, and provide mentoring and inspiration throughout their stays. Writers-in-residence for 2010-2011 include Jonathan Lethem, National Book Critic’s Circle Award winner in 2000 for Motherless Brooklyn; Alicia Erian, author of the acclaimed coming-of-age novel, Towelhead; and Jean Valentine, National Book Award-winning poet.

In 2010, Butler was “pleased to announce the inauguration of the Booth Tarkington Writer-in-Residence, a program designed to bring exciting emerging writers to the program as guest faculty.”  I can’t find any information as to how this new position has been endowed, but apparently the MFA program of which the endowment is a part is relatively recent development, having been established only in 2008. But in an unrelated interview, faculty member Robert Stapleton mentions that, “for this position, we’re creating an office with Tarkington’s actual desk.” And in November, the University received a $1 million gift to establish a new “Center for Creative Writing” to house and nurture writers and students in the MFA program.

Here’s some of what Butler’s press release concerning Dahlie’s appointment had to say:

English Professor Andy Levy, director of the MFA program, said Dahlie brings “a rich variety of writing, teaching, and publishing experiences to share with our students. We were impressed by how engagingly he talks about other people’s writing, and the writing life in general.

“We are trying to build a national-quality program here, to teach students that the distance between the Writer’s Studio and the world of New York publishing is a short one. Mike’s a perfect fit for those goals, and for the clarity, compassion, and humor with which he helps us fulfill them.”

During his year at Butler, Dahlie will teach workshops and a class on the craft of writing. He’ll also read the theses written by seniors graduating with a creative-writing degree to offer feedback, and he’ll talk to them about their future.

Also in November, Butler University announced that Dahlie also won a 50,000 prize, the Whiting Writers Award.  He will be concluding his inaugural appointment as Tarkington Writer-in-Residence at the end of this academic year.

Leave a Reply

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture.
Anti-Spam Image