Poet, activist making the most of digital opportunities

With the publishing world changing rapidly, poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller is working and communicating in new ways to stay on top of his industry.

E. Ethelbert Miller
E. Ethelbert Miller

Miller will be the next guest in the University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review Fall Reading Series when he talks at noon Nov. 3 in the Alcorn Auditorium of UHV University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. Admission is free, and light refreshments will be served. The author of 11 books will sign copies of his works following the talk.

Miller said he is not the most technology-savvy person, but he recognizes a need to change with the times.

“The university is changing; the book is changing; and I want to stay abreast of that,” he said.

Miller said he took his most recent book of poetry back from a university press and offered it as a free download on his website. This, in turn, allowed a broader reach.

“Here is a way of me reaching my audience, and people who don’t know my work can get it easily,” he said. “I’m using it to link to friends and people overseas. I also am using it to network with teachers. I can do a video session via Skype from my home.”

The video visits are a necessity in the age of budget cuts.

“I can reach out to students at City University of New York, Vanderbilt and other universities around the country,” the Washington, D.C.,-based writer said. “If I was traveling, there would be additional expense, and I’d be racking up the frequent-flier miles.”

He said that many institutions no longer have the travel budgets to make sure authors can visit in person. Many popular reading series events hosted by universities have smaller budgets than in the past.

“If you had a series where 10 writers were brought in each year, now you might have four,” he said.

Miller also is using video to chronicle a yearlong interview with author Charles Johnson, a UHV/ABR speaker in spring 2010.

“I interview him almost every day,” he said. “He has so far answered 175 questions in depth. I increased his presence online, and his work is getting out there. We are getting responses back from scholars in all areas that he addresses, from Buddhism, to fatherhood, to his love for his pet dogs.”

The interviews are accessible through Miller’s blog, found at

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Ken Cooke 361-570-4342