Words of writers, poets become lifelines for the homeless

September 21, 1992|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,Staff Writer

In a harmonic literary convergence, over 330 writers on campuses and in cafes across the country will read from their work tomorrow to raise money and awareness in the battle against hunger, homelessness and illiteracy.

"The National Reading: Writers Harvest for the Homeless" is sponsored by Share our Strength (SOS), a Washington non-profit organization that raises millions of dollars for food banks, literacy projects, and community development programs through the creative efforts of restaurant owners, chefs, writers, artists and photographers.

Locally, 12 poets -- all educators and students from the Loyola College community -- will gather tonight at the McManus Theater for a group reading as part of the national event.

Lia Purpura, an adjunct professor in Loyola's writing and media department, orchestrated the reading after seeing an advertisement for the national event in a literary journal.

It is "a chance to connect the talent we've got in the community and at the same time do some good," says Ms. Purpura, who will read from her own poetry. "I think we want to help in palpable ways and in ways uniquely available to us."

Readings elsewhere in the country will include well-known authors such as Susan Sontag in Washington and Philip Roth in Albany. Rather than ask more highly recognizable Baltimore writers to read, Ms. Purpura decided to invite her colleagues, who are perhaps not as well known and could use a little exposure. "I always have been particularly impressed by the collection of writers at Loyola," she says. And, "As a whole, the group tends to be not a self-promotional lot."

In Chestertown, Richard Ben Cramer, author of "What it Takes: The Way to the White House" and an Eastern Shore resident, will be among those reading tomorrow at Washington College. (Baltimore author Madison Smartt Bell will read at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa.)

Writers Harvest for the Homeless is the brainchild of author Frederick Busch, whose work appeared in "Louder than Words," SOS' first anthology of short fiction to benefit its hunger-relief programs.

For SOS founder Bill Shore, the national reading expands the group's reach into the creative minds of American artists. "To me it's just very exciting that people who make their living by communicating and expressing themselves are eager to express themselves on the issue of hunger and the homeless," Mr. Shore says. "This is what they do by profession -- tell stories -- and now we've got a huge number who will symbolically tell the same story: Our country must do something about these problems."

The national reading will primarily benefit the Society of St. Andrew, a Virginia-based non-profit group that collects and distributes surplus produce throughout the country and abroad.

READINGS

What: Writers Harvest for the Homeless, poetry reading.

When: Today at 7 p.m.

Where: McManus Theatre, Loyola College.

Tickets: Available at the door, $5 contribution suggested.

Call: (410) 617-2122.

*

What: Readings by Richard Ben Cramer, Robert Day, Kathy Wagner.

When: Tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Where: Miller Library Terrace at Washington College, Chestertown.

Call: (410) 778-7896.

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