New center gives space to writers and speakers

Photo by Taylor Cox

Once upon a time, there was a university in central Indiana with its eye on a stronger creative writing program.

Without waxing “Grimm,” Butler University’s tale involves a four-year-old Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing that needed a new home.

The Efroymson Center will begin hosting speaking events on Feb. 15, after opening in December to house the MFA program.

The center kicks off the visiting writers series with memoirist Karen Maezen Miller.

Miller is a Zen Buddhist priest – “not the kind of priest you have pictured in your mind,” according to her website — from Sierra Madre, Calif. She writes about spirituality in everyday life.

According to university publications, the Efroymson Center’s series will run alongside the Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series with the guests of the Efroymson series placing special emphasis on the craft of writing.

While the speaking series gets off the ground, the Calliope Creative Writing Club, comprised of undergraduate writers from many majors, is still trying to get its foot in the door.

“Right now, the Efroymson center is promising, but we’re still working on actually finding an opportunity to start working in the center,” said Brian Gross, former president of Calliope.

He said scheduling conflicts with the center’s classes have prevented the group from moving to the center from its current meeting spot, Starbucks.

Chris Speckman, an MFA student in creative writing, said that accessibility will improve with time.

“Anytime you start a new endeavor of this magnitude, there’s a learning curve, so it’s to be expected that it may take a few months for the leaders of the program to figure out how to best utilize the space,” Speckman said.

A $1 million gift from The Efroymson Family Fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation and Jeremy Efroymson gave the center its start.

The center is located in a building on Hampton Drive that once housed Butler presidents.

Speckman said that the center is perfect for writing and discussion with colleagues and professors.

“I’ve been at the center for classes, readings, meetings, quiet study and social functions, and it always seems to fit the need,” he said.

While the center specifically houses the graduate program, undergraduate English students have been taking advantage of its space and resources as well.

Ally Denton, a senior english creative writing major, said  the new center is one of the best things that could happen for the department.

“I’m just excited that the English department has a place on campus they, or we, can call our own,” Denton said.

The center is young and much remains to be seen, but the center has nothing but time to figure out the details.


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