Lectores: An old tradition with a new twist at the University of Tampa

The lectores tradition continues as local writers read aloud.

click to enlarge A lectore reads from the traditional elevated platform at the Cuesta-Ray cigar company in Ybor, 1929. - State Archives of Florida
State Archives of Florida
A lectore reads from the traditional elevated platform at the Cuesta-Ray cigar company in Ybor, 1929.

“Everything,” Herman Hesse wrote, “becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud.”

Anyone who has attended a reading in Tampa Bay's burgeoning literary scene would agree. Lately there have been more and more opportunities to hear writers read, not only at one of the many open mics in the area but at writing conferences and festivals, such as Writers in Paradise at Eckerd and the Times Festival of Reading at USF St. Pete. Four years ago, the University of Tampa's Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing introduced Lectores, a weeklong series that was directly inpired by an age-old tradition of reading aloud.

The series takes its name from 

click to enlarge Today, lectores don't have the captive audience, but the poetry of the spoken word endures and the biannual event draws a crowd nevertheless. - University of Tampa
University of Tampa
Today, lectores don't have the captive audience, but the poetry of the spoken word endures and the biannual event draws a crowd nevertheless.
the lectores, or readers, who were hired by cigar factories to read to the rollers as they worked. The spoken word was often the only way they “read” Victor Hugo, Karl Marx, or the morning news, although, Ybor City historian Gary Mormino notes, the workers were far from illiterate. Workers regarded the lector as an intellectual.

At this week’s biannual Lectores series, audiences may not all have read Karl Marx, but Tampa will once again celebrate the lector, the intellectual who brings magic to the spoken word.


Read our interview with Jonathan Marcantoni here.


Lectores 2016 Readers

All readings start at 7:30 p.m. in the University of Tampa’s Falk Theatre except where noted. Events are free of charge.
Jan. 7: Lidia Yuknavitch
Jan. 8: Donald Morrill, Andrew Plattner
Jan. 9: Eula Bliss
Jan. 11: Jonathan Marcantoni, Vaughan Center, 9th floor, 4 p.m.; TJ Jarrett, Sykes Chapel, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 12: Vanessa Blakeslee (pictured above), Mikhail Iossel
Jan. 13: Stefan Kiesbye, Joe Oestreich
Jan. 14: Patricia Smith

About The Author

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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