Nebraska Center for Writers

A Literary Tour
of Nebraska

Nebraska Authors ||| Contemporary Nebraska Writers ||| Creative Writing Programs
Literary Publishing ||| Literary Community ||| Literary Conferences ||| Literary Centers

Nebraska Authors

Nebraska isn't only the birthplace of many famous celebrities (Fred Astaire, Johnny Carson, Dorothy McGuire, Marlon Brando, Nick Nolte, and others). The state has also been home to several past and present writers important to the country's literary culture.

Willa Cather (left) is probably Nebraska's best-known writer. The author of O Pioneers!, My Antonia, and many more, Cather is most closely associated with Red Cloud, Nebraska, where a yearly celebration is held in her honor (Willa Cather Annual Spring Conference; for more information, contact Pat Phillips, 326 North Webster, Red Cloud, NE 68970, 402.746.2653).

Mari Sandoz (right), who was born and raised in the Sandhills region of Nebraska, is the acclaimed author of many books, including Old Jules, Slogum House, and Crazy Horse: the Strange Man of the Oglalas, one of the earliest works to show sympathy for the Native American leader, a biography still regarded by many as the definitive account of the man and the legend.

Loren Eiseley was born on September 3, 1907, in Lincoln, where he lived for most of his first twenty-six years. He is regarded as one of the foremost anthropologists in the world, the author of The Immense Journey and many other books, and an early contributor to the fledgling Prairie Schooner.

To learn more about famous writers from Nebraska's past, like Bess Streeter Aldrich, Wright Morris, and John Neihardt, have a look at the Famous Nebraska Authors page, produced by the Nebraska Department of Travel and Tourism.

Contemporary Nebraska Writers

There's no shortage of Nebraska writers. From modern masters like Tillie Olsen (left) and Wright Morris to newer masters like last year's National Book Award nominee Richard Dooling and National Poetry Series winner Erin Belieu (right), the literary arts are alive and well in Nebraska, one of the few states with an official poet. Highly honored and much published, state poet William Kloefkorn is also a past winner of the Nebraska Hog-Calling Championship.

Creative Writing Programs

Nebraska's colleges and universities offer developing writers the time and attention they need. In the Creighton University Creative Writing Program (left), students receive intensive group work with other developing writers in a university that traditionally places very high in national rankings. The program maintains The Nebraska Center for Writers, a Web site for poets and fiction writers. New York Times best-selling writers who've attended Creighton include fiction writer Ron Hansen (Mariette in Ecstasy) and poet and novelist Carol Muske Dukes, author of An Octave Above Thunder and Saving St. Germ. Creighton also offers the MA program in Creative Writing and the Creighton Reading Series.

The University of Nebraska — Omaha's Writer's Workshop (right) has a long tradition of educating writers through intensive study in a unique environment, the College of Fine Arts. The program is home to The Nebraska Review and, sponsors The Missouri Valley Reading Series. National Poetry Series winner Erin Belieu is a graduate of the UNO Writers' Workshop. At the main campus, in Lincoln, students may go on for a Ph.D. in creative writing ( Department of English, University of Nebraska, 202 Andrews Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0333, 402.472.3191).

In addition to these, there are institutions across the state offering a wide variety of writing programs: Dana College, Nebraska Wesleyan, Northeast Community College, Chadron State College, and many others.

Literary Publishing

Nebraska is home to many literary publishers and magazines, including The Nebraska Review, The Morpo Review (an on-line literary magazine), and the legendary Prairie Schooner. Literary presses include the late Harry Duncan's Cummington Press (University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE 68182-0324, 402.554.2771), The Nebraska Book Arts Center (University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE 68182-0324, 402.554.2773), The University of Nebraska Press, and The Creighton University Press.

The Literary Community

Across the country people are rediscovering poetry and poetry readings. The same is true for Nebraska, where regular readings seem to take place in every available coffeehouse, theater, diner, and church basement. At right, poet Liz Ahl reads in the No-Name Reading Series in Morgan's Upstairs Bar, Lincoln. Nebraska is also home to The Missouri Valley Reading Series and the Creighton Reading Series, bringing writers to campuses and communities throughout Nebraska and neighboring states. In addition, book clubs and writers' groups of all kinds meet regularly for discussion.

Literary Conferences

For an all-out celebration of Nebraska writers past, present, and future, you'll want to attend The Nebraska Literature Festival, held at different locations around the state. But don't stop there. Many more literary festivals are held around the state throughout the year, including the Fort Kearny Summer Writer's Conference, the Mari Sandoz Young Writers' Workshop at Chadron State, and the Creighton Young Writers' Workshop.

Literary Centers

Nebraskans give a great deal of their time, money, and energy to preserve Nebraska's literary heritage. Many — like the fans of John Neihardt, Willa Cather, and Wright Morris — have established literary centers as tributes to the writers and resources for students, readers, and researchers. On-line presences include The Mari Sandoz Heritage High Plains Center at Chadron State College, (left, photo by Kira Gale) The Nebraska Center for Writers at Creighton University (right, photo Nebraska Travel & Tourism), and the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial.

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

Thanks for sharing the trail a while. We've barely touched on Nebraska's rich literary life. To learn more, head back to The Nebraska Center for Writers.

Nebraska Center for Writers