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Writer’s Harvest reaps hundreds for charity

By Sam Hunter, For The Miami Student

The 23rd annual Writer's Harvest benefit reading at Miami University raised over $200 for area charities on Wednesday night.

Share Our Strength, a Washington D.C. based organization dedicated to fighting hunger in America, founded Writer's Harvest in 1992 as a national event.

Originally, hundreds of readings were held across the nation. Although national readings were discontinued in the late '90s, Miami continues to hold the event every year, combining it with the Pledge-A-Meal program. In doing so, Miami has raised over $35,000 to fight hunger in the community, former organizer Eric Goodman said.

The organizer this year was Cathy Wagner, the director of the creative writing program, and a reader at this year's event. Wagner recognized Writer's Harvest doesn't raise as much money as Pledge-A-Meal, but she said it was still important for the English department to give back.

"It's valuable to keep up this tradition of helping our community," she said.

The reading featured five members of the creative writing faculty, although for one professor, David Schloss, this Writer's Harvest will be his last. He's retiring this year.

"I'm quite pleased with tonight," he said. "I hope I hit my mark. I just wanted to do this one more time. It's a good cause."

Schloss also said he enjoyed the new work Writer's Harvest required him to create. Some of the poems he read included "Monkeys and Sharks," "The Luxury of Sexual Jealousy" and "Fall of the American Empire."

Wagner echoed his comments, saying she enjoyed using the friendly environment to try out new work. Wagner presented four poems, including two pieces about "the African-Americans who keep getting killed by cops".

Keith Tuma was another reader at the event. Before presenting his series of prose poems titled "Note Noir," Tuma said it was always a pleasure to participate in Writer's Harvest, and he enjoyed hearing the mix of faculty perspectives presented at the reading.

Bryan Partner read his haunting tale "The Dutchman's Funeral," detailing the events surrounding the death of an unknown Dutchman, and the effect it has on his siblings.

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Michael Stoneberg read "An Open Letter To The Squirrel Who Keeps Throwing Shit At My Face," which was written to a squirrel near Bachelor Hall who once threw an acorn at him.

"This shit cannot fly, no pun intended," he said to the squirrel, which he nicknamed Ben.

First-year Kinsey Cantrell said she enjoyed the reading.

"It was interesting to see how the readers incorporated Miami into their writing," she said. "The way the readers knew each other and supported each other gave the event a community feel, which made me excited to be a creative writing major."

Schloss would certainly agree.

"It feels warm and friendly and familiar," he said.