Delta blues and literature scholar opens Spring Reading Series

Nationally-renowned blues scholar Thomas Williams will kick off the first installment of the University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review Spring Reading Series at noon Jan. 24 in the Alcorn Auditorium of the University West building, 3007 N. Ben Wilson.


Williams will talk about the new Delta Blues and how blues music and literature have commingled through the years to produce some of the country’s most provocative and passionate artists and artworks. The event is free to the public, and light refreshments will be served.


“Ever since Homer sang his epic poems in ancient Greece, music has been side by side with literature,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, ABR editor/publisher and dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “In many ways, the Delta Blues has been America’s traditional oral poetry.”


Since 2000, Williams has helped coordinate one of the country’s most lively academic conferences, the annual Delta Blues Symposium at Arkansas State University at Jonesboro, where he works as an assistant professor of English and creative writing.


His short stories and essays have appeared in more than 20 publications, including Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Chelsea and Connecticut Review. He also is a longtime contributor to the American Book Review. His honors include three Pushcart Prize nominations, a James Michener Fellowship and the ASU Board of Trustees Faculty Award for Professional Service.


“As a native Mississippian, I’ve always had great respect for the music, literature and artists who have long thrived in the Delta,” UHV President Tim Hudson said. “I’m proud that Reading Series experts, such as Dr. Williams, are able to offer our community a glimpse into one of the country’s most fascinating cultures.”


The UHV/ABR Reading Series brings nationally-recognized writers to the Victoria campus of UHV for several days. Scheduled events include author roundtable discussions with UHV students, faculty and community members; consultations with graduate, upper-division and high school students; community lectures; podcasts of Reading Series lectures; and invitation-only readings/lecture receptions for VIPs.


Past speakers for the UHV/ABR Reading Series include Graciela Limón, Justin Cronin, Angela Ball, Raymond Federman, Andrei Codrescu, Chitra Divakaruni, Dagoberto Gilb, R. M. Berry and Robert Phillips.


The schedule for the 2007/2008 UHV/ABR Reading Series lecturers also includes:

  • Feb. 28: David M. Oshinsky – Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian. He is the Jack S. Blanton Chair in History at the University of Texas-Austin and winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction for “Polio: An American Story.” Oshinsky’s other books include “A Conspiracy so Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy,” which won the Hardeman Prize as the best book about the U.S. Congress, and “Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice,” which won the Robert Kennedy Prize for its contribution to human rights.

  • April 3: Lance Olsen – Author of nine novels, one hypertext, four critical studies, four short-story collections and a textbook about fiction writing. He also has edited two collections of essays about innovative contemporary fiction. His short stories, essays, poems and reviews have appeared in hundreds of journals, magazines and anthologies, including The Village Voice, Time Out, BOMB, Gulf Coast and “Best American Non-Required Reading.”

  • April 24: Farnoosh Moshiri – Playwright, poet, short-story author and refugee from Iran. Born to a literary family in Tehran, Iran, she fled that country after the fall of the Shah. Her plays, short stories and poems were published in Iranian literary magazines before the 1979 revolution and in anthologies published outside Iran in the 1980s. In 1983, she fled her country after a massive arrest of secular intellectuals, feminists and political activists. She now teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Houston.
ABR is an internationally-distributed literary journal with a circulation of about 8,000. ABR recently finished its move from Illinois State University to UHV.


For more information on Williams’ presentation or the UHV/ABR Reading Series, contact ABR Managing Editor Charles Alcorn at (361) 570-4100.

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.

Thomas Doyle 361-570-4342