Visiting Writers Series

When you study creative writing at Mount Mercy, you learn not only from your fellow students and our faculty, but also from the many prestigious writers who visit campus and share their expertise and vision.

Every semester Mount Mercy University hosts at least one Visiting Writer. During each visit, there is a Q&A — your time to ask the writers questions — and an evening reading — the writers' time to share their most recent work with you. You'll also have the chance to chat with the visiting writers over dinner or while they are signing your book.

Past visiting writers include poet laureates, award-winning journalists, best-selling novelists, and Oprah-picks.

Visiting Writers: 2015-2016

Frank X. Walker

Anne-Marie Cusac
October 7
Writing and Social Justice 3:30 | Poetry and Journalism 7:00 | Flaherty Community Room (204 Basile)

Anne-Marie Cusac—a George Polk Award-winning journalist, poet, and Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Roosevelt University—is the author of two books of poetry: The Mean Days (Tia Chucha, 2001) and Silkie, (Many Mountains Moving, 2007), and the nonfiction book Cruel and Unusual: The Culture of Punishment in America (Yale University Press, 2009).

For ten years, she was an editor and investigative reporter for The Progressive magazine. Cusac won the George Polk Award for her article “Stunning Technology,” an investigation of the use of the stun belt in U.S. prisons. Her reporting for The Progressive inspired an Amnesty International campaign against the electronic stun belt. It also contributed to a United Nations decision to ask the United States to ban stun belts and restraint chairs.

In 2015, Cusac is a fellow reporting on mental health with the Social Justice News Nexus, a fellowship program housed at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Amy Butcher
April 11
Q&A 3:30 | Reading 7:00Flaherty Community Room (204 Basile)

Amy Butcher is the author of Visiting Hours (Blue Rider Press/Penguin), a memoir that chronicles her response when a college friend suffers a psychotic break and murders his ex- girlfriend. Butcher is also an essayist whose most recent work appears in The New York Times, The Paris Review online, Tin House online, The Iowa Review, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Fourth Genre, The Rumpus, and Brevity. She is the recipient of the 2014 Iowa Review Award in nonfiction, as judged by David Shields, and has received fellowships and awards from the Stanley Foundation for International Research, The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, Word Riot Inc., and Colgate University's Olive B. O'Connor Creative Writing Fellowship. She teaches courses on the essay at Ohio Wesleyan University, where she is an Assistant Professor of English, and serves as a graduate-level writing instructor and thesis director for Chatham University's Masters of Fine Arts Program in Nonfiction, Southern New Hampshire University's Masters Program in Creative Nonfiction, the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, the Iowa Young Writers' Studio, and the Sitka Fine Arts Camp in Sitka, Alaska. 

Past Visiting Writers

Mount Mercy University has proudly hosted poet laureates; best-selling novelists; and writers who have won the National Book Award, the Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Nobel Prize.

Fiction Writers
Sandra Benitez, Chris Bohjalian, Charles Baxter, Ethan Canin, Ana Castillo, Lan Samantha Chang, K. L. Cook, Stuart Dybek, Larry Heinemann, Khaled Hosseini, Bharati Mukherjee, Thisbe Nissen, ZZ Packer, Josef Skvorecky, Barry Unsworth, Mary Helen Stefaniak, Benjamin Percy, Samrat Upadhyay, Daniel Orozco, Karen Russell

Creative Nonfiction Writers and Journalists
Joy Castro, Matt Freedman, Patricia Hampl, Alex Kotlowitz, John T. Price, Scott Russell Sanders, Patricia Foster

Jorie Graham, Joy Harjo, Robert Haas, Ted Kooser, Li-Young Lee, Heather McHugh, Czeslaw Milosz, Naomi Shihab Nye, Susan Power, Gary Soto, William Stafford, Camille Dungy, Michael Sowder, Frank X Walker

"Visiting writers ...let you see and know the process of a professional." — Casey Birkecht '13 

"The joy of the Visiting Writers Program is always about connecting to a kindred soul. Aspiring writers are able to discuss their own fears and doubts with someone who has experienced the journey." — Kim Flugga-Ciha ’11