Art of storytelling takes center stage at upcoming talk

The art of the storyteller goes all the way back to the earliest tribes of man. The many ways storytelling can be done will take center stage at the next installment of the University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review Spring Reading Series.

Michael Martone

Author and creative writing instructor Michael Martone will present “Homer on Homer” at noon Thursday in the Alcorn Auditorium of the University West building, 3007 N. Ben Wilson. The event is free to the public, and light refreshments will be served.

“It’s really about the various kinds of ways that we tell stories to one another,” Martone said. The Homer could refer to the Greek poet or the one from “The Simpsons,” he said.

“Narrative delivery devices have to do with the Odyssey as well as episodic television,” Martone said.

Martone will present his speech based on essays about storytelling that he’s done through the years. To make sure every presentation is original, Martone has an audience member shuffle copies of the essays. He then addresses each topic as it comes out of the luck of the draw.

“Part of the theme has to do with the way stories and our lives proceed through accident and coincidence and happenstance,” he said. “The lecture itself is an accident. It’s designed to be an accident.”

Martone is a professor of English in the creative writing program at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

He is the author of eight works of fiction, including “Double-wide: Collected Fiction of Michael Martone,” “The Blue Guide to Indiana” and “Michael Martone;” two collections of nonfiction; and six edited volumes. He was awarded the 1998 Association of Writers & Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction for “The Flatness and Other Landscapes.”

“Storytelling is one of the building blocks of every civilization, including our own,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, editor and publisher of the American Book Review and dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “This will be a great learning experience for the lay reader as well as students of creative writing. I’m excited to hear Martone’s presentation as he’s also one of the authors we publish here at UHV through Fiction Collective Two.”

Fiction Collective Two is an independent, alternative press that moved to UHV in 2008.

ABR is a nonprofit, internationally distributed literary journal that champions works by small presses. Founded in 1977, the journal moved to UHV in 2006. It has a circulation of about 8,000.

While in Victoria, the reading series authors attend roundtable discussions with UHV faculty and students, make classroom visits to area schools, give lectures open to the community, and go to receptions hosted by Friends of ABR patrons. Past speakers have included Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Oshinsky, author and Iranian refugee Farnoosh Moshiri, Mexican American author Dagoberto Gilb and American Book Award recipient Graciela Limon.

Other speakers in the Spring Reading Series include:  

  • John O’Brien, March 12 – O’Brien founded the Review of Contemporary Fiction in 1980. Three years later, he established the Dalkey Archive Press, which publishes books of fiction, poetry, criticism and biography. The press’s English translation of “Voices from Chernobyl” received the National Book Critics Circle Award in the general nonfiction category.  
  • Zulfikar Ghose, April 2 – Ghose is a novelist, poet, short-story writer, autobiographer, journalist, educationalist, essayist and literary critic. He was born in Pakistan in 1935, grew up in British India and emigrated to England in 1952. He now lives in Austin. He has published 12 novels, including his most recent, “The Triple Mirror of the Self.” He also is the author of two story collections, an autobiography, six volumes of poetry and four books of literary criticism.  
  • Ana Castillo, April 30 – Castillo is a celebrated poet, novelist, short story writer and essayist. Renowned Chicano author Rudolfo Anaya has referred to Castillo as “one of our finest Chicana novelists.” Castillo has published numerous books, including “The Mixquiahuala Letters,” for which she received the Before Columbia Foundation’s American Book Award in 1987. Her most recent work, “The Guardians: A Novel,” was published in 2007 and tracks the lives of Mexicans who illegally cross to the U.S. to work.
 For more information about the UHV/ABR Reading Series, call Alcorn at 361-570-4100 or go to

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