On September 22, students, faculty and community members gathered at the Walter Hall Rotunda for the annual Writers Harvest hosted by the Creative Writing department. The goal of the event is to fight the regional hunger crisis in Appalachian Ohio. The Ohio University Writers Harvest is just one in a national reading series dedicated to combating hunger and poverty.
The event is centered around local writers who come to read excerpts from their work. The readings included poetry readings from Kathryn Nuernberger, a former O.U. student and current professor at the University of Central Missouri, and David Sanders, a professor at O.U. and former director of Ohio University Press/Swallow Press. There were also readings from our own Dinty W. Moore, who specializes in nonfiction, and Gwen E. Kirby who received her Ph.D. in Creative Writing from O.U.
Dr. David Wanczyck is the coordinator for specials programs and organizes all the events for the Creative Writing department. Wanczyck said that Writers Harvests have been going on nationally since 1984, and O.U. has been participating for approximately 12 years.
The purpose of the Writers Harvest is to collect donations and raise awareness about the ever present issue of poverty and hunger in southern Ohio, but the organizers also emphasize the fact that the night is supposed to be fun and educational.
“It’s about doing something good and having a good time while you’re doing it. The reading we had tonight was diverse, Dinty’s piece was humorous, we heard a moving short story, two poets. It was all sort of fulfilling and I think people enjoyed it,” said Sanders.
The goal of the event is to raise $1,000. All proceeds from the event will support Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP) and the Southeastern Ohio Food Bank. This year they managed to get halfway to their goal of $500.
Brian Cristi, a librarian at the Athens Public Library, said that the event provides a platform for communication between groups who often don’t get a chance to interact. “I like that this event provides the opportunity for students and faculty and community members to mingle, and I think more people should take advantage of this,” he said.
Nuernberger recalled memories from her time at Ohio University. “I used to go writers harvest when I went here, and I always appreciated the combining of the arts and the very pragmatic approach of feeding people which is more than essential for keeping a community robust and vital,” she said, “Its really nice to see those two endeavors combined in one event.”
Although the Writers Harvest didn’t achieve their overall goal for donations, the night was still considered a success. “A little can go a long way in food bank economy,” Wanczyck said.”Its always great, we had a big crowd and I think people would love these events if they knew about them and tried them out. Folks hear about them sometimes and they think the readings are going to be dry, but tonight shows that that’s not the case.”