This year, Butler’s Creative Writing Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA) Program will have its own Writer-in-Residence, Michael Dahlie.
Dahlie will be working closely with graduate students, teaching two writing workshops for MFA students as well as a craft class and senior capstone in the sping.
Dahlie said the transition from being a full-time writer to being in an academic environment has always been something he has wanted to do.
“Teaching has always been the long-term plan for me,” Dahlie said.
Andy Levy, Director of the MFA program in Creative Writing, played a major role in the selection process.
“We advertised it nationally and we tried to get the best writer,” he said. “We decided what we wanted was an emerging writer, someone whose first book or second book had been published.”
Levy said they loved Dahlie’s writing because it really stood out.
Dahlie has written one novel, 2008’s A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living, for which he received the distinguished PEN Hemmingway Award.
The recipient of the award is chosen by a panel of three distinguished fiction writers and is given to one new author yearly.
The hope is that Dahlie will bring something new and unique to the MFA program.
“Dahlie is different from the full-time faculty [the students] already gotten to know, [he is] someone whose career is going in a different trajectory,” Levy said.
In addition to working with the MFA program, Dahlie will also be working with Butler undergraduates.
“Most of his responsibilities are in the MFA program,” Levy said. “He’s supposed to teach prose workshops, read and advise on Masters theses and just generally bring a fresh perspective.”
Part of that fresh perspective stems from the years Dahlie spent living in New York City. He said he is excited to bring the knowlege and connections he obtained in the city here to Butler.
“We’re going to do a publishing panel this fall,” Dahlie said. “We’ll bring in an agent and an editor from a press and literary journal, and they’ll talk about their experiences and what happens when a manuscript arrives on their desk.”
Dahlie said these publishing panels will be fiercely beneficial in the long-run because they give students a taste of the real world, while still maintaining all the comforts of the classroom.
“The nice thing about an academic setting is that students can really focus on making their writing better,” Dahlie said. “But that being said, it’s also important for them to see what happens in the publishing world. The most important thing that it does is demystify the process.”
Levy too said he is extremely excited for all the possibilities the publishing panels could potentially bring about.
“[It will help] make [the students] more confident that they can take their career in more ambitious directions,” Levy said. “I’m very happy we’re doing this and Michael is going to be instrumental in making that happen.”