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College Q&A: UHV/ABR authors discuss writing with high school, college students

By By Jeremy Shapiro
Aug. 31, 2013 at 3:31 a.m.


I have enjoyed attending past University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review author readings. What other activities do the authors participate in during their visits to Victoria?

The University of Houston-Victoria is launching the eighth year of the UHV/American Book Review Reading Series on Thursday with a visit by author Elizabeth Hand.

Hand - like all authors in the series - will give a public reading in the Alcorn Auditorium of UHV University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. Her reading starts at noon and is free and open to the public.

After the public readings, authors sit down with high school and UHV students at a roundtable in the Publishing Suite of the UHV University Center. They spend 90 minutes discussing writing.

"One of the functions of bringing the authors here is for them to talk with students directly," said Jeffrey Sartain, ABR managing editor and director of the English program in the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. "A lot of the authors are creative writing professors, so they relate really well with aspiring writers."

Sartain said some authors give lectures while others prefer a question-and-answer approach. A few authors have passed along writing assignments to the students beforehand. Students then share their work with the author during the roundtable.

Tim Z. Hernandez, the final speaker in the 2013 Spring Reading Series, gave high school and college students a homework assignment when they met with him.

"He told them to go home and find the oldest member of their family and ask them to tell the oldest story they know," Sartain said. "It was a really cool assignment because during the roundtable, they were talking about literature and language as legacy in family storytelling. Hernandez mentioned how a lot of great family stories never get passed on to younger generations because they aren't talked about."

Students from Ember Dooling's creative writing class at St. Joseph High School attend several of the author roundtables every year. UHV creative writing students and freshmen taking the university's "first-year seminar" course also frequently attend.

"The students are very excited and engaged," Sartain said. "It's the most talkative I've seen some of them. Now that they've come enough times to the roundtables, they are not afraid to share their opinions with the authors, even if they've seen the writers' names on the New York Times Bestsellers list."

After the roundtables, ABR authors typically spend time with UHV faculty members and attend a private reception in the evenings.

Hand is the first of five authors visiting UHV this fall. The other authors are Rosemary Catacalos on Sept. 19, Brian Evenson on Oct. 17, Christopher Howell on Nov. 7 and Paul Ruffin on Nov. 21. Jeffrey Di Leo, ABR editor and publisher and dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences, said the lineup of spring authors will be announced this fall.

For more information about the authors, visit the ABR website at americanbookreview.org.

Do you have a question about the University of Houston-Victoria? Contact Jeremy Shapiro, UHV communications specialist, at 361-570-4296 or shapiroj@uhv.edu.

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