About Us

Series Summary

Widely acknowledged as a major contribution to Dallas’s cultural life, Arts & Letters Live has been a sellout at the Dallas Museum of Art since its inception in 1992.

  • Audiences estimated at over 200,000 have attended more than 500 series programs, offered locally or on tour.
  • Five broadcasts on public radio, three on the Internet, three books, and four audio publications have greatly extended the series’ reach.
  • To date, Arts & Letters Live has showcased over 300 regional, national, and international writers, often in combination with performing or visual arts.
  • Texas Bound® features readings by Texas actors of short fiction by Texas writers.
  • Well-known actors participating in Texas Bound have included Tommy Lee Jones, Kathy Bates, Thomas Gibson, Larry Hagman, Marcia Gay Harden, Judith Ivey, G. W. Bailey, Barry Corbin and Doris Roberts. The series has been the subject of articles in the New York Times, Southern Living, and other national publications.
  • Programs featuring distinguished writers have included Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award–winning novelists Carol Shields, Michael Cunningham, John Updike, Michael Chabon, Art Spiegelman, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Richard Ford, to name a few.

Other major authors participating in the series have included Ernest Gaines, Grace Paley, Anne Lamott, Margaret Atwood, Sherman Alexie, Edwidge Danticat, Sandra Cisneros, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Ann Patchett, A. S. Byatt, and Ha Jin, Salman Rushdie, Augusten Burroughs, Sue Monk Kidd, Anchee Min, Frances Mayes, Alexander McCall Smith, Jonathan Safran Foer, Arthur Golden, Myla Goldberg, Azar Nafisi , Barbara Kingsolver, David Sedaris, Ian McEwan, Wally Lamb, Tony Horwitz and David Grann. In addition, the series has celebrated poets including Billy Collins, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, Rita Dove, W. S. Merwin and Seamus Heaney.

Arts & Letters Live is recognized for its creative programming, including a program featuring the writings of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald read by Natasha Richardson and John Benjamin Hickey; an unconventional night of humor with Dave Eggers (author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) and Neal Pollack; tributes to Texas literary giants Katherine Anne Porter, Cormac McCarthy, and Larry McMurtry; as well as other interdisciplinary programs combining music, film, and literature.

BooksmART (formerly arts & letters live, jr.), an offshoot of the adult series, is targeted for ages nine and up and offers youth and families the unique opportunity to hear authors discuss their works and interact with them. The series has featured award-winning authors and illustrators including: E. L. Konigsburg, Christopher Paul Curtis, John Erickson and Hank the Cowdog, Avi, Chris Van Allsburg, Blue Balliett and Brett Helquist, T. A. Barron, Will Hobbs, and Katherine Paterson, Kate DiCamillo, Rick Riordan, Richard Peck, Lois Lowry, Markus Zusak, Laurence Yep, Diane Stanley, and Wendy Mass. E. L. Konigsburg’s presentation was held in conjunction with a Late Night event at the Museum inspired by her writings. Families took behind-the-scenes tours, flashlight tours, and “Choose Your Own Adventure” tours, and high school theater students presented readings from The View from Saturday in front of thematically appropriate works of art. In 2008 the series hosted Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl), Patricia MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall), Mo Willems (Knuffle Bunny, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus), Gary D. Schmidt (Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy), and Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret).

Arts & Letters Live History 1992–2008

 

Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners

Carol Shields (The Stone Diaries), Michael Cunningham (The Hours), John Updike (The Centaur, Rabbit Is Rich, Rabbit at Rest); Jane Smiley (A Thousand Acres), Robert Olen Butler (A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain), Oscar Hijuelos (The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love), Tim O’Brien (Going After Cacciato), Ellen Gilchrist (Victory Over Japan), Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes), Alice McDermott (Charming Billy), Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay), Art Spiegelman (Maus: A Survivor’s Tale), Robert Caro (Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson), Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex), Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs and Steel), Richard Ford (Independence Day), Lawrence Wright (The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11), Tony Kushner (Angels in America), and Geraldine Brooks (March), Tracy Kidder (Strength in What Remains), Dave Barry, Colum McCann (Let the Great World Spin), Mary Oliver (American Primitive), Annette Gordon-Reed (Hemingses of Monticello:An American Family), Tony Horwitz  

PEN/Faulkner Award finalists and winners

Tobias Wolff (The Barracks Thief), Ann Patchett (Bel Canto)

Major Female Authors

Grace Paley, Anne Lamott, Margaret Atwood, Anita Shreve, Lisa See, Mary Gordon, Kaye Gibbons, Lee Smith, Melissa Bank, Sue Miller, Jeanne Ray, A. S. Byatt, Ann Patchett, Azar Nafisi, Liza Dalby, Myla Goldberg, Debra Dean, Barbara Kingsolver, Joanne Harris, Tracy Chevalier, Louise Erdrich, Elaine Pagels, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Hoffman, Elizabeth Gilbert, Kim Edwards, Annie Proulx, Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Kidd

Top Texas Women Writers

Laura Bush, Lee Cullum, Prudence Mackintosh, Rena Pederson, Maryln Schwartz (Laugh Your Lunch Off fundraiser, 2002), Paulette Jiles

Firebrands

David Sedaris, John Irving, Mary Karr, Sapphire, Erik Larson, Katherine Stockett, Isabel Allende, Ian McEwan, Junot Diaz, Edwidge Danticat, Sandra Cisneros, Dr. Zahi Hawass, T. C. Boyle, Terry Southern, Sherman Alexie, Ira Glass, Dave Eggers, Neal Pollack, Sarah Vowell, Ruth Reichl, Jane and Michael Stern, and Robb Walsh and Paula Disbrowe

Notable Poets

Robert Hass, Robert Pinsky, Rita Dove, Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, Tony Hoaglund, William Virgil Davis, and W. S. Merwin

Children’s Authors & Illustrators

Diane Stanley, David Diaz, Angela Shelf Medearis, John Erickson and Hank the Cowdog, William Joyce, David Small and Sarah Stewart, Judy Schachner, R. L. LaFevers, Michael Hoeye, Kimberly Willis Holt, Christopher Paul Curtis, E. L. Konigsburg, Avi, Kate DiCamillo, Rick Riordan, Richard Peck, Lois Lowry, Wendy Mass, Barry Lyga, Markus Zusak, Laurence Yep, Gary D. Schmidt, Eoin Colfer, Patricia MacLachlan, Brian Selznick, Mo Willems, David A. Carter, Jan Brett, Jeff Kinney, Anthony Horowitz, Jacqueline Woodson, Laura Numeroff, David Macaulay, Judy Blume, Jonathan Stroud, Tony and Lauren Dungy, M. T. Anderson, Marc Brown, Gary Paulson, Daniel Handler, Maira Kalman, Linda Sue Park and Robert Sabuda

Latino/Latina Literature

Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, Denise Chavez, Dagoberto Gilb, Lionel Garcia, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Pat Mora, Elena Poniatowska, Rudolfo Anaya, John Phillip Santos, Luis Alberto Urrea

African American Novelists

Terry MacMillan, Gloria Naylor, J. California Cooper, Ernest Gaines, Colson Whitehead, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Asian Authors

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Manil Suri, Maxine Hong Kingston, Ha Jin and Li-Young Lee

Major Biographers

Nancy Milford (Zelda Fitzgerald and Edna St. Vincent Millay), Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith (Jackson Pollock and Vincent Van Gogh), H. W. Brands (Benjamin Franklin and Aaron Burr), Mark K. Updegrove (Lyndon B. Johnson)

Other Noteables

Jim Lehrer, Molly Ivins, novelists Tony Hillerman and Russell Banks, Arthur Golden (Memoirs of a Geisha), New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz, Southern humorists Roy Blount and Bailey White, Louise Erdrich, Tony Kushner, nonfiction writer Simon Winchester, Alice Sebol, Wally Lamb (She's Come Undone), Bruce Feiler, Gregory Maguire (Wicked), and Thomas Cahill (author of How the Irish Saved Civilization and Mysteries of the Middle Ages), Ayad Akhtar, creator of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Alan Zweibel, founder of NPR's Storycorps, Dave Isay, Richard Mason, Amor Towles, book jacket desiger, Chip Kidd, Jonah Lehrer, Christopher Moore, Paula McLain (The Paris Wife), Alan Lightman, Kevin Brockmeier, Jlie Burstein, Rebecca Skloot (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks), Mo Rocca, Gail Levin, David Brooks, Margaret George, David Bezmozgis, Gary Shteyngart, Pico Iyer, Austin Kleon, S.C. Gwynne, Ben Mezrich (Accidental Billionaires), David Wroblewski (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle), Daniel H. Pink, Joshua Ferris, Adam Haslett, Madison Smartt Bell, Samella Lewis, Melanie Benjamin, John Grandits, Sarah Dunant, Stephanie Kallos, Abraham Verghese, Arthur Phillips, Cristina Henríquez, Kathleen Kent, Elizabeth Kostova, Peter Carey, Colm Tóibín, Robert Kurson, Dava Sobel, David Grann, Shannon McKenna, Alexandra Fuller, Sir Ken Robinson, Alex Ross

Programs Combining Literature with Theater and Other Arts

 

Stage

Texas Bound

Texas short fiction read by Texas-connected actors, among them Tommy Lee Jones, Kathy Bates, Larry Hagman, Judith Ivey, Marcia Gay Harden, Peri Gilpin, Julie White, Harriet Harris, Doris Roberts, Barry Corbin, John Benjamin Hickey, John Feltch, Tess Harper, Brent Spiner, G. W. Bailey. Plus a host of local performers, including Daryl Johnston, Max Hartman, and Alex Burton. Authors from Katherine Anne Porter and Larry McMurtry to Sam Shepard.

Selected Shorts

Broadway actors (including James Naughton, Fritz Weaver, Joe Spano, Malachy McCourt, Kathleen Chalfant, Patricia Kalember, Ted Marcoux, Christina Pickles, and Estelle Parsons) in the NPR short-fiction reading series with Isaiah Sheffer

Playwrights

Athol Fugard, Edward Albee, Terrence McNally, Wendy Wasserstein, Horton Foote, Larry L. King, Anna Deavere Smith, and Tony Kushner

Two evenings honoring the Texas theater pioneer Margo Jones, with cabaret star Bobby Short and others. Willa Cather program with Eva Marie Saint and Jeffrey Hayden.

Tennessee Williams: A Distant Country Called Youth, a staged reading of Williams’ extraordinary and often hilarious letters, starring Richard Thomas

Film

Texas Film: The Awful Truth with John Bloom (a.k.a. Joe Bob Briggs and Don Graham), Running Shorts (short films based on short fiction). Making a Scene with screenwriters Stephen Harrigan, Anne Rapp, and Lawrence Wright.

Fiction into Film with award-winning director Mira Nair, who discussed her creative process in adapting Jhumpa Lahiri’s acclaimed novel The Namesake to film. The event also included a private film screening of The Namesake before it was released to the general public.

Fiction into Film event with Philippa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl. The event included her lecture and a private advance screening of the film.

Award-winning author, illustrator, and filmmaker Marjane Satrapi. She adapted her graphic novel Persepolis into an animated film, which received the 2007 Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Preview screening of Julie & Julia, author event and book signing with Julie Powell, and a dinner at the DMA inspired by Julia Child.

A Century of Hollywood Costume Design with Deborah Nadooman Landis.

Music

New Seed, protest poetry of the 1960s with Ramona Austin and jazz saxophonist Marchel Ivory; An Evening with the Blues with blues legends live and on film; Tribute to the Harlem Renaissance with singer Liz Mikel and others.

Texas Singer-Songwriter Evening featuring Joe Ely (The Flatlanders) and Beth Wood with moderator Billy Crockett. The musicians explored the art and craft of songwriting and wove in acoustic performances of their songs as part of the Fresh Ink program on Late Nights at the Dallas Museum of Art. Following the discussion, the musicians performed as the Main Stage act at the Late Night.

Eric Siblin: The Cello Suites with musical excerpts on cello by soloist Gyongy Erodi. 

Art-Related Events

The Painter and the Story, celebrating one of the Dallas Museum of Art’s recent acquisitions, Clouds, a painting by contemporary German artist Sigmar Polke. Broadway actor Maria Tucci read Marguerite Yourcenar’s How Wang Fo Was Saved, the story that inspired the painting.

ARTsong: A Voyage with the Muses, a literary, visual, and musical journey around the world using the Museum’s collections as inspiration. Four acclaimed musicians presented an evening of poetry and song ranging from Dante to Hemingway, Hayden to Sondheim, Degas to O’Keeffe.

generation m: modern masters from the mid-century to the moment, an evening presented by the Southeastern Festival of Song that wove together song, poetry, and visual art inspired by the exhibition Fast Forward: Contemporary Collections for the Dallas Museum of Art. As a way of honoring those collectors who have made generous gifts to the Museum in recent years, Arts & Letters commissioned a new song by renowned composer Robert Beaser and poet Daniel Mark Epstein entitled Vision at Dawn, which premiered at this event. Arts & Letters also commissioned poets Susan Briante, Farid Matuk, Jack Myers, Shin Yu Pai, and Judith Garrett Segura to write poems inspired by works of art in the exhibition.

Blithe Spirits: Song, Art, Poetry, and Letters Celebrating the Legacy of Sara and Gerald Murphy. The Southeastern Festival of Song and acclaimed local Dallas actors brought to life the story of Sara and Gerald Murphy, the iconic golden couple of the 20s and 30s, and their famous circle of friends, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Man Ray, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, and Cole Porter. The evening was inspired by the exhibition Making It New: The Art and Style of Sara and Gerald Murphy.

Dance

Matisse in Motion was a collaboration between Arts & Letters Live, the Museum’s School Partnership programs, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and New York choreographer Jessica Lang. This event featured the world premiere of a short suite of original dances inspired by Henri Matisse’s sculptures, drawings, and collages from the exhibition Matisse: Painter as Sculptor.

Tributes

Nobel Prize laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer (with actors Isaiah Sheffer, Leonard Nimoy, and Marian Seldes); John Graves, author of Goodbye to a River (offered by twenty-five fellow Texas writers); and Texas greats Katherine Anne Porter, Cormac McCarthy, and Larry McMurtry

Poets W. B. Yeats, Emily Dickinson, and Wallace Stevens, offered by contemporary poets Edward Hirsch, Paul Muldoon, Sharon Olds, Richard Howard, and others

Writers abroad: Canaday! Eh? with novelists Mordecai Richler, Robert MacNeil, Jane Urquhart, and others. Bloomsbury in Sussex, about the famous English artists and writers. The Drover’s Wife: An Australian Icon.

Texas history: Dibs on the Alamo with novelists Stephen Harrigan, Elizabeth Crook, Jeff Long; and Lawrence Wright

Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald: The Riviera, the Twenties, and the words of the two legendary Fitzgeralds, interpreted by actors Natasha Richardson and John Benjamin Hickey

Horton Foote: Readings and Recollections with author Wilborn Hampton and actors Hallie Foote and Tess Harper, moderated by Kevin Moriarty.

Plus

Literary Cafe: Fourteen seasons of free readings, originally held at Club Dada in Deep Ellum, featuring writers, poets, and musicians including Kinky Friedman, Marian Winik, Joe Coomer, Naomi Shihab Nye, Amanda Eyre Ward, and Dean King. Beginning in 2004, Literary Cafe became part of the Museum’s Late Nights program and has featured Mông-Lan, Jonathan Saffron Foer, Carrie Fountain, Dominic Smith, Susan Vreeland, Candance Wolf, Elizabeth Gilbert, Helen Oyeyemi, Nicole Krauss, Ross King, Ron Hall and Denver Moore, A. M. Homes, Keith Donohue, Brock Clarke, and Nancy Horan.

Young Writers Workshops: Seventeen years of free Saturday workshops in conjunction with the Dallas Public Library. Beginning in 2004, two workshops are held annually, one at the Museum using works of art as inspiration for writing and one at the J. Eric Jonsson Library.

Texas Bound for Kids: Saturday morning readings at area bookstores.

Texas Bound on Tour: Presented regularly in Fort Worth and Houston. One-time appearances in New York City and Tyler, Texas.

Texas Bound radio series: Broadcast by KERA as How Texas Tells It

Texas Bound publications: Three anthologies and four audiocassette editions

Texas-Connected Authors Represented in Person or Through Their Work, 1992–2008

Betty Adcock 
Phyllis Allen
Isabel Allende
Steve Almond
Kerry Neville Bakken 
Donald Barthelme 
Frederick Barthelme 
Julia Barton 
Rick Bass 
Richard Bausch
John Bennet 
Sarah Bird 
Glenn Blake 
John Bloom (a.k.a. Joe Bob 
Briggs) 
Mark Edelman Boren
T. Coraghessan Boyle
Ray Bradbury
Jenny Browne 
James Lee Burke 
Robert Olen Butler 
Lee Merrill Byrd 
Ron Carlson 
Oscar Casares
Katherine Center
Michael Chabon
Denise Chavez 
Sandra Cisneros
Matt Clark
William Cobb 
K. L. Cook 
Matt Clark 
Justin Cronin
Lee Cullum 
Tracy Daugherty 
Curtis Dale Dawson 
Ellen DeGeneres
Rick DeMarinis 
Diane DeSanders 
Pamela Diamond 
Tom Doyal 
Lori Lynn Drummond
Will Dunlap
David Eagleman
Tony Earley
Owen Egerton
Mary K. Flatten 
Robert Flynn 
Kinky Friedman 
Greg Garrett 
Daniel L. Garza 
Mary Ladd Gavell 
Dagoberto Gilb 
William Goyen 
A. C. Greene 
Stephen Gullion 
Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey 
Leon Hale 
Jack Handey 
William Hauptman
David Haynes 
Shelby Hearon 
Philip Heldrich 
Cristina Henríquez 
O. Henry 
Irene Beltran Hernandez 
Dave Hickey 
Barbara Hudson 
Arturo Islas 
Ray Isle 
Molly Ivins
Bret Anthony Johnston
Marjorie Kemper
Sue Monk Kidd
Larry L. King
Andrew Lam
Prudence Mackintosh  
James Magnuson 
Jas. Mardis 
David Marquis
Steve Martin 
William C. Martin 
Jennifer Mathieu 
Robert McBrearty 
Cormac McCarthy 
Reginald McKnight 
Charlie McMurtry 
Larry McMurtry 
Jan Meissner 
Maile Meloy 
Jewel Mogan 
Sarah Morgan 
Violette Newton 
Tim O’Brien 
Carolyn Osborn
Rena Pederson 
Ruth Pennebaker 
Hermine Pinson
Andrew Porter
Katherine Anne Porter
Bill Porterfield 
Sara Powers 
Sybil Raney 
David Rice 
Tomas Rivera 
Mary Robison 
Paul Rudnick 
Steven Salzman 
Jim Sanderson 
Lisa Sandlin 
Annette Sanford 
Winifred Sanford 
George Saunders 
Maryln Schwartz 
Daryl Scroggin 
Jan Epton Seale 
Sam Shepard
José Skinner 
C. W. Smith 
Dominic Smith 
R. E. Smith 
Diana Spechler
Lori Stephens
Bill Swart 
Marshall Terry 
Lorenzo Thomas 
Donna Trussell 
Abraham Verghese 
Amanda Eyre Ward 
Sharon Oard Warner 
Barbara Wedgwood 
Betty Wiesepape 
Lynna Williams 
S.L. Wisenberg
Mark Wisniewski
Tobias Wolff
Jane Roberts Wood 
Bryan Woolley
Lawrence Wright
David Wroblewski

Texas-Connected Actors Featured at Arts & Letters Live

Amy Acker 
Tyress Allen 
Mary Anna Austin 
Roger Alvarez
G. W. Bailey
Jeffrey Bean 
Esther Benson 
James Black 
Cora Cardona
Michael Cerveris
Hilary Couch
James Crawford
Don Alan Croll 
Gail Cronauer 
Bruce DuBose
Hassan El-Amin
John Feltch 
Chamblee Ferguson 
John Flores 
Cecilia Flores 
Linda Gehringer 
Thomas Gibson
Peri Gilpin
Dolores Godinez 
Connie Gold
Matthew Gray
Marcia Gay Harden
Harriet Harris 
Max Hartman 
Sean Hennigan 
John Benjamin Hickey 
Laurel Hoitsma
Chuck Huber
Bill Jenkins 
Billy Jones 
Jenny Ledel 
Denise Lee
Brad Leland
David Lozano
Ev Lunning, Jr.
Lydia Mackay 
Sonia Manzano
Carolyn McCormick
Liz Mikel 
Norma Moore 
Randy Moore 
Molly Moroney 
Alex Allen Morris
Glenn Morshower 
Taylor Anne Mountz 
Cynthia Dorn Navarrete 
Erin Neal
Alex Organ
Katherine Owens 
Tina Parker 
Raphael Parry 
Khary Payton 
Angie Phillips
Bryan Pitts 
Anthony Ramirez 
Jo Schellenberg 
Lisa Lee Schmidt
Isaiah Sheffer
Ash Smith 
Octavio Solis 
Cliff Stephens 
Shelley Tharp 
Sheriden Thomas
Matthew Stephen Tompkins
Lee Trull
Jessica D. Turner 
Sally Nystuen Vahle 
Christina Vela 
Steven Walters
Julie White 
Catherine Whiteman 
Nance Williamson