Born and raised in the Dundee neighborhood of Omaha, Robert Vivian has deep roots in the Midwest that are reflected in his writing, which span forms from plays and novels to essays and poetry. After attending Westside High School, getting his Bachelor’s and Master’s from UNO, and a Ph.D. from UNL, Vivian took to writing plays. His first, Something is Wrong, was staged at the Blue Barn Theatre in Omaha.
While writing essays for various midwestern publications and poetry for a few prolific journals, Vivian has also written a loose trilogy of mystery/thriller novels set in his home state. These novels often focus on the neglected members of society, sometimes only as corpses found under mysterious circumstances. Vivian uses the bleak, rural Nebraska countryside as a backdrop to his dark crime stories, creating an unnerving air out of the wide-open spaces.
In his most recent work, All I Feel Is Rivers: Dervish Essays, Vivian created a new form of writing, dubbed “dervish essays.” Part prose poem, part essay, the texts are drawn from his time spent in Turkey, where he studied Rumi, the Sufi mystic poet from the thirteenth century who founded the religious order that practices the dervish dance, a technique of inducing religious ecstasy through spinning. In his dervish essays, Vivian attempts to recreate these physical acts in text form, focusing on life and nature and the connections between them that ultimately manifest in spirituality.
Vivian’s writings focus on both the dark and light side of life, creating spooky stories as well as lyrical lines about the larger meanings of life. He often focuses on his native Midwest, but also draws on far-flung locales such as Auschwitz and Budapest, finding value in the ordinary and relating the wonderous to the everyday.
Several of Vivian’s works are available at Bellevue University Library, located in the general collection and online. All books can be borrowed for 21 days with the option of renewal.