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Butler Visiting Authors Series Spring 2014

January 16, 2014 by Reader's Connection

The Spring 2014 season of the Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series at Butler University begins on January 28th and will run through April 8th.

The programs are free and open to the public. My thanks, as always, to Butler.

To see all of an author’s titles owned at IndyPL, click on his or her name.

Victor Hernández Cruz
Tuesday,January 28
Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall
7:30 p.m



Celebrated for creating poetry that is a collision of the sounds, tensions and flavors of New York and Puerto Rico, Cruz achieves a musical vitality that surpasses any of his other volumes. Like a salsa band leader coaxing and challenging dancers to more and more complex steps, Cruz dares readers with dizzying polyrhythms, polymetric stanzas, backstepping word structures and a sense of improvisation: “Humid women in plaza dance/ Tongues out of mouth/ At the men who jump in the shadows/ Panama hats transmitting/ Towards the radar/ of the waist.” While the verses pulse with a cross-cultural harmony of Caribbean and Lower East Side beats, the language approximates the emotional sphere of themes in rumba lyrics: “Machetes taking off like helicopters/ Chopping off branches for timbale sticks.” But topics don’t stop at the tropical; poems like “It’s Miller Time” and “If You See Me in L.A. It’s Because I’m Looking for the Airport” cover the ways in which life in the Americas can converge. Several lengthy narratives in the form of letters from musical influences to his family’s literary oral traditions. Seven poems presented in Spanish highlight Cruz’s bilingual talent. — Publishers Weekly

Lorna Dee Cervantes
Wednesday, February 12
Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall
7:30 pm

Drive : The First Quartet
Drive : The First QuartetOne of the first Chicana poets to achieve wide U.S. recognition, Cervantes did so with just two books, Emplumada (1981) and From the Cables of Genocide (1991); this substantial, versatile follow-up consists (subtitle not withstanding) of five distinct collections, that can be considered as discrete works. All show fire and range, and all draw on Cervantes’s life on the streets as a teen and on her left-wing activism as an adult. The first, How Far’s the War? , comprises poems of activism and protest against a global spate of injustices, from Latin American dictatorships to shortages in Eastern Europe: “La plumage de justicia hangs from the broken/ arrows of palabras [words] breaking the media block/ Of Truth and Consequences of Free Trade Agreements.” The last, Hard Drive , collects warmly convincing poems of erotic and parental love, remembered, promised and achieved: “Come,/ and let us eat/ up the hours/ between us.” BIRD AVE, perhaps the strongest, concentrates on Cervantes’s youth, recalling “what girls/ did in/ the barrio/ to get/ their 15/ minutes of fame.” About 10 poems are abbreviated appropriations of very famous poems by Bishop, Williams and others, with new titles. But this five-in-one volume reestablishes Cervantes as a singular voice. — Publishers Weekly

Tim O’Brien
Thursday, March 6
Atherton Union, Reilly Room
7:30 pm

July, July

July, JulyThree decades after their graduation from Minnesota’s Darton Hall College, the class of 1969 reunites for a July weekend of remembrance and celebration. A draft dodger from Canada still holds grudges against his ex-girlfriend, who appears to be happily married, but now finds himself more fascinated by a female minister who has lost her job in disgrace; a crippled Vietnam veteran, still plagued by gruesome memories of war, discovers that he has much in common with a classmate recovering from a mastectomy; and with a little help from alcohol, two best friends rejoice in rather than despair over their recent divorces. Beset with a surprising array of characters, O’Brien’s latest is every bit as haunting as his most celebrated works, Going After Cacciato and In the Lake of the Woods. While the recurring theme of Vietnam is no longer in the foreground, it is nevertheless, the driving force behind much of what befalls the characters in their past as well as their present. This forceful chronicle of the baby boom generation features the familiar elements of magical realism, mystery, and metafiction and some refreshing novelties, such as dominant female characters and a thoughtful, nonlinear configuration of chapters. — Library Journal

D. Nurkse
Wednesday, March 26
Robertson Hall, Johnson Board Room
7:30 pm

A Night in Brooklyn
A Night in BrooklynDesire creates reality in the latest from Nurske: “We wanted so much that there be a world/ as we lay naked on our gray-striped mattress,” the book begins. Throughout its three sections “each act a past and a future/ an almost and absolute,” and those who act and desire are vulnerable, haunted by time’s forward motion. The Brooklyn of the opening title section is at once literal borough and a living context where, “Though we are fading/ all our actions last forever.” Here, even the dead can remember Brooklyn–a deceased father can still frequent the haunt where his son tends bar–while the living always return “to slip the key in the lock,/ and come back to the present,” where lovers fight next door. From far-reaching outskirts of this all-encompassing Brooklyn, new voices enter in the second section, “Elsewhere,” including Andalusian fragments and riddles from Spanish and French. Lastly, “No Time,” further records and questions what’s fleeting: “If this is happiness,/ how shall we leave it,/ if this is grief, how to enter it.” Nurske recalls: “How we loved to create a world,” and he renders our imperfect world perfectly in this stunning book. — Publishers Weekly

Cheryl Strayed
Monday, March 31
Clowes Memorial Hall
7:30 pm

Wild : From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Wild : From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailUnsentimental memoir of the author’s three-month solo hike from California to Washington along the Pacific Crest Trail. Following the death of her mother, Strayed’s (Torch, 2006) life quickly disintegrated. Family ties melted away; she divorced her husband and slipped into drug use. For the next four years life was a series of disappointments . . . While waiting in line at an outdoors store, Strayed read the back cover of a book about the Pacific Crest Trail. Initially, the idea of hiking the trail became a vague apparition, then a goal. Woefully underprepared for the wilderness, out of shape and carrying a ridiculously overweight pack, the author set out from the small California town of Mojave, toward a bridge (“the Bridge of the Gods”) crossing the Columbia River at the Oregon-Washington border. Strayed’s writing admirably conveys the rigors and rewards of long-distance hiking. Along the way she suffered aches, pains, loneliness, blistered, bloody feet and persistent hunger. Yet the author also discovered a newfound sense of awe; for her, hiking the PCT was “powerful and fundamental” and “truly hard and glorious.” Strayed was stunned by how the trail both shattered and sheltered her. Most of the hikers she met along the way were helpful, and she also encountered instances of trail magic, “the unexpected and sweet happenings that stand out in stark relief to the challenges of the trail.” A candid, inspiring narrative of the author’s brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self. — Kirkus Reviews

Jesmyn Ward
Tuesday, April 8
Atherton Union, Reilly Room
7:30 pm

Men We Reaped : A Memoir

Men We Reaped : A MemoirIn four years, five young men dear to Ward died of various causes, from drug overdose to accident to suicide, but the underlying cause of their deaths was a self-destructive spiral born of hopelessness. Surrounded by so much death and sorrow, Ward closely examined the heartbreakingly relentless deathsof her young relatives and friends growing up in the small town of DeLisle, Mississippi, with few job prospects and little to engage their time and talents other than selling and using drugs and alcohol. She herself had partially escaped, going on to college in Michigan and California; but the pull of close family ties and a deep appreciation of southern culture lured her back each summer. Ward, author of Salvage the Bones (2011), lovingly profiles each of those she lost, including a brother, a cousin, and close friends, and their tragic ends as she weaves her family history and details her own difficulties of breaking away from home and the desperate need to do so. This is beautifully written homage, with a pathos and understanding that come from being a part of the culture described. — Booklist


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