The Texas Commission on the Arts has awarded its first grant to the University of Houston-Victoria to support the UHV/American Book Review 2008-2009 Reading Series, which brings nationally recognized authors to Victoria.
The $1,594 grant received earlier this month will fund a series of eight readings and related outreach activities at UHV. Authors who have visited UHV so far this school year are critic and fiction writer Kim Herzinger and contemporary poet and memoirist Mark Doty.
"This grant is another level of external validation that we are on the right track with ABR and the reading series," said Jeffrey Di Leo, editor/publisher of the American Book Review and dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. "Receiving funding from the Texas Commission on the Arts is not easy given the constraints of the organizationís budget and the number of applications it receives."
The commission was organized in 1965 by the Texas Legislature to develop a receptive climate for the arts in Texas. TCA provides funding and other support, such as arts education and cultural tourism programs, for a variety of arts-related activities. Through its initial grants distribution program for fiscal year 2009, the commission has given out $2.3 million to arts organizations.
The panel that reviewed the UHV grant request commended the American Book Review for connecting audiences directly with authors and filling a niche in the community, Di Leo said.
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. Other past authors have included Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Oshinsky, author and Iranian refugee Farnoosh Moshiri, Mexican-American author Dagoberto Gilb and Chitra Banaerjee Divakaruni, author of the bestselling novel "The Mistress of Spices."
ABR is a nonprofit, internationally distributed literary journal that is published six times a year. It began in 1977, moved to UHV in 2006 and now has a circulation of about 8,000. The journal specializes in reviews of works published by small presses.
This is the second grant given to ABR. The National Endowment for the Arts gave a $10,000 grant in February to help support the reading series.
"We are thrilled with the support from both the National Endowment for the Arts and Texas Commission on the Arts," ABR Managing Editor Charles Alcorn said. ďIn addition to providing needed funding, this money hopefully will help us increase our future outreach efforts in the community."
The last writer scheduled for the Fall Reading Series is Antonya Nelson on Nov. 20. She has published five short-story collections and three novels. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper''s and in anthologies such as "Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards" and ďBest American Short Stories."
For more information about the UHV/ABR Reading Series, call Alcorn at 361-570-4100.