Monday, January 30, 2023 Jan 30, 2023
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A Closer Look Hearing Voices

Listeners continue to go for Arts & Letters Live
By A.E. McGill |

The successful program Arts & Letters Live began its sixth season Feb. 24, proving that the oral tradition continues to survive and even thrive in the Age of the Internet. People still enjoy gatherin’ ’round to hear other people tell stories, and Arts & Letters Live is pretty much that simple.

Then again, the literary series offers much more. It’s a three-month celebration (through June 2) of the written word, with an intimacy and immediacy of author, actor and audi-ence. When listeners crowd the Horchow Auditorium at the Dallas Museum of Art and other venues, they transform the typically solitary act of reading into public performance.

But it’s not as highfafutin as all that. There’s also the wide-eyed, childlike appreciation of being read to and the laugh-out-loud enjoyment of hearing accomplished actors tell well-wrought tales.

The roots of the program are in New York, where producer and founder Kay Cattarulla had helped to establish the very successful “Selective Shorts” at the Symphony Space on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Wnen she and her husband were transplanted here, she created a similar program, “Texas Bound,” which featured regional talent-local actors reading local authors,

Six years later, “Texas Bound” is still a major part of Arts & Letters Live, joined now by trie Distinguished Writers series, Literary Cafe, tributes and other programs, as the series continues to grow and expand each year.

The Distinguished Writers series of Arts & Letters Live devotes four programs for well-known authors to lecture about literature and read excerpts from their latest works.

This year continues to attract prominent belletrists. Robert Olen Butler will read from his new book of short fiction, Tabloid Dreams. In his new collection, Butler has written haunting and hilari-ous stories based on actual tabloid headlines such as “Titanic Victim Speaks Through Waterbed,” “Help Me Find My Spaceman Lover” and “Woman Loses Cookie Bake-Off, Sets Self on Fire.”

Author Kaye Gibbons has won numerous awards and acclamations as one of the country’s most talented and successful writers, Her first novel, Ellen Foster, was written while she studied American literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hid. Gibbons presents her fifth novel, Sights Unseen, about a mother’s dramatic battle with manic depression.

Famous Texas playwright Horton Foote’s curriculum vitae of Broadway productions, offBroadway productions, movies, TV plays, publications and awards impressively comprises eight pages. In a career of more than 50 years, he has earned Oscars (“Best Screenplay” for both To Kill A Mockingbird and Tender Mercies), aPu\itzer Prize and induction into the Theater Hall of Fame.

J. California Cooper’s first appearance In the Distinguished Writers series was so successful that she’s back by popular demand to read from her latest collection of short stories, Some Love. Some Pain, Sometime. The stories employ her characteristic themes of romance, heartbreak, struggle and faith.

The Literary Cafe at Club Dada resembles the coffeehouse readings that are in vogue (berets optional). Local authors present their fiction and poetry in this relaxed, informal setting.

Arts & Letters Live also is presenting two evenings of tributes.

On March 7. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Edward Hirsh and Cynthia McDonald salute America’s famed modernist, Wallace Stevens. The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s language, at times enigmatic yet always resonant and beautiful, has inspired poets for years.

Margo Jones, “the Texas tornado,” produced, directed and created revolutionary theater in Dallas in the ’40s and ’50s. On April 17, actors, biographers and musicians gather to read, discuss, perform and generally reminisce about the legendary patroness who was responsible for, among otber things, bringing Inherit the Wind to the Bible Belt and helping establish the Round-Up Theater and its black ensemble.

March, coincidentally, is Texas Writers Month, and Arts & Letters Live contributes a special program on March 1 for children and parents. John Erickson, creator of the famous crime-solving Hank the Cowdog, appears for “a rollicking words and music session.” A songwriting and art workshop for children ages 6 to 9 is offered conjunctly,

Tickets sell out quickly, but a waiting list of “no show” seating is often available. For tickets and information, call 214-922-1219.

1997 Arts & Letters Live Schedule

(all events held at Dallas Museum of Art’s Horchow Auditorium unless otherwise noted)


24 Texas Bound: Voices Barbara Hudson’s -The Arabesque,” read by Marcia Gay Harden; Larry L. King’s “Letters.” read by G.W. Bailey: Winifred Sanford’s “Windfall.” read by Sheridan Thomas. 6:30, 8:30 pm


1 John Erickson and Hank the Cowdog. 34 pm

7 Postcards from the Volcano: Four Poets Celebrate Wallace Stevens Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman. Edward Hirsch and Cynthia McDonald. 8 pm

10 Texas Bound From Broadway Frank O’Connor’s “First Confession,” read by Malachy McCourt: Padget Powell’s “The Winnowing of Mrs. Schuping,” read by Judith lvey; Ian Frazier’s “Dating Your Mom,” read by Isaiah Sheffer. 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm

20 Distinguished Writers: Robert Olen Butler. 7:30 pm

24 Texas Bound: How I Got Into This Barbara Wedgwood’s “The Children of this World,” read by Janine Turner Marshall Terry’s “Angels Prostate Fall,” read by Randy Moore; Dagoberto Gilb’s “The Prize,” read by Octavio Solis. 6:30. 8:30 pm

26 Latino Literary Cafe (at Club Dada) Octavio Solis, Rosemary Catacaios and Dennis Gonzalez. 8:30 pm


3 Distinguished Writers: Kaye Gibbons. 7:30 pm

5 Writer-to-Writer with David Marquis. 11 am-1 pm

7 Texas Bound: Dire Circumstances R.E. Smith’s “The Gift Horse’s Mouth.” read by Peri Gilpin; Donald Barthelme’s “The School.” read by Raphael Parry; Ralph Ellison’s “I Did Not Learn Their Names.” read by Billy Eugene Jones: Tom Doyal’s “Supressing the Grief Response, “

read by Katherine Owens. 6:30, 8:30 pm

9 Literary Cafe (at Club Dada) Louise Redd, Prudence Mackintosh. Kay Barnes and Jas. Mardis. 8:30 pm

17-18 Tribute to Margo Jones Featuring Brenda Vaccaro, Julie White. Bobby Short, Greg Boyd, Helen Sheehy. Jeff West. Julie White. Jac Alder and Louise Latham. 7:30 pm Thursday, 8 pm Friday

30 Literary Cafe (at Club Dada) Featuring CJ. Critt, Gregory Gormley, Lazette Jackson and Marion Winik. 8:30 pm


1 Distinguished Writers: Horton Foote. 7:30 pm

9 Distinguished Writers: J. California Cooper. 8 pm

2 Texas Bound in Fort Worth (at Scott Theater). 7:30 pm