By Ginny Masullo
When Oda Mulloy steps up to Ozark Poets and Writer’s mic as the June feature, she will shine as the storyteller extraordinaire that she is. Featured since 1993 on our local National Public Radio station KUAF, Mulloy has, besides her unmistakable and rich German accent, a distinct and rich voice.
Her unique style which is born of the oral tradition, of course, comes through in her readings but it is also present in her nine books of stories. Mulloy is fond of saying that the “story lies in the telling not in the event.”
This “telling” lies in Mulloy’s ability to turn say, a nun’s penchant for driving cars, or a spoiled daughter’s refusal to go to school into an often hilarious yet poignant tale.
Looking younger than ever at 81, Mulloy came to the United States in 1951 from Germany. By 1971, she found her way to Fayetteville when “there was a pasture on every corner.” She worked at ANL Lab as a bacteriologist and cytologist. Upon retirement she extended her work under the microscope to viewing the world through eyes long trained to see details.
Whether she is reading on the radio, entertaining a group of listeners or writing, each mode has its own requirements. She loves to watch people’s faces as she reads aloud, adjusting her inflections and body to their responses.
Mulloy confesses that writing stories, though not at all “agony” for her is more challenging than the telling of a tale. Listening to classical music as she writes may lend to the finely tuned rhythm of her written work.
Mulloy continues to read for KUAF and teach in workshops at university classes with professors such as Sam Totten and Margaret Bolsterli.
She is currently at work on her 10th book of stories.
At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Nightbird Books, Mulloy will be firing the spirits of her audience with her warm colorful stories.
The reading is free and includes an open mic where people are invited to read their favorite works, original or otherwise. There is a 4-minute time limit per person.