Corrections or additions?

This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the November 29,

2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Writers Share their Strength

Ask Princeton’s most prolific author how she finds

time to volunteer for Share Our Strength and she’ll deny she’s doing

much at all. Yet novelist Joyce Carol Oates, past winner of the


Book Award and professor of humanities at Princeton University, is

this year’s national Chair for Share Our Strength’s Writers Harvest.

"I’ve been involved with Share Our Strength in an indirect way

for a long time, but not previously involved in an organic way,"

Oates explains from her home study in Hopewell. "The position

of being chair is honorific mostly," she insists. "I’m not

in an office in Washington doing mailings or anything."

Oates will bring her national profile to an area event when she


"The Art and Science of Fighting Hunger," a Share Our Strength

Writers Harvest event, with Peter Singer, Princeton University’s


bioethicist. Oates will read from her latest novel "Blonde,"

based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, and Singer will introduce his

new book, "Writings on an Ethical Life." The event takes place

at Barnes and Noble, MarketFair, on Tuesday, December 5 at 7 p.m.

Writers Harvest is not your usual holiday food drive. Share Our


(SOS), founded in 1984, is an organization that works to raise both

awareness and funds to support anti-hunger and anti-poverty efforts.

Over the past 15 years, SOS has distributed more than $60 million

to more than 1,000 programs worldwide.

Writers have been reading for SOS since 1992. Every fall, in over

60 cities across the nation, writers contribute their voices to a

national reading which takes place at bookstores, community centers,

and college campuses. Since ’92, more than 500 readings have taken

place raising over $800,000. SOS distributes 100 percent of event

funds raised to statewide advocacy groups working to increase support

for anti-hunger, anti-poverty efforts.

SOS believes that it takes more than food to fight hunger, and


comprehensive efforts to address the immediate and root causes of

hunger and poverty. "Through Writers Harvest, words become the

tools for real and lasting change," says Bill Shore, founder and

executive director. Advocacy is central to ending hunger and poverty

as it transformed community support into sustained change, such as

reforms in policy, services, and public education.

The majority of SOS funds come from Taste of the Nation, an annual

gourmet food and wine tasting event in which 100 percent of the ticket

price goes to fight hunger. Sponsored in Princeton since 1992, the

next Taste of the Nation event, chaired by Faith Bahadurian, will

be April 30, 2001. This year’s participating restaurants included

host Doral Forrestal, Forsgate, Mediterra, and Tre Piani. Princeton’s

Taste of the Nation has raised and distributed over $290,000 to area


Oates is known as one of the nation’s most prolific authors,


for tackling large, controversial, uniquely American subjects. She

says she invited Peter Singer to join the benefit reading "because

he’s so involved in the SOS ideals."

Oates’s novel "them," winner of the 1970


Book Award, culminated in a depiction of the Detroit race riots of

1967; "Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart"


dramatized an interracial teenage romance; and the Pulitzer Prize

nominated "Black Water" (1992) offered a fictional rendition

of the Chappaquiddick incident, from the viewpoint of the drowning

young woman. Oates’s short, grisly 1995 novel, "Zombie,"


by the Jeffrey Dahmer case, explored the psyche of a serial killer

in all-too-convincing detail.

"Blonde" is Oates’s longest novel to date, a 738-page epic

based on the brief, dazzling life of Norma Jeane Baker, better known

as "Marilyn Monroe."

The novel, inspired by the sight of a photograph of the 17-year-old

Norma Jeane Baker, with dark curly hair, wearing a locket around her

neck. "I felt an immediate sense of something like


she told biographer Greg Johnson; "this young, hopefully smiling

girl, so very American, reminded me powerfully of girls of my


For days I felt an almost rapturous sense of excitement, that I might

give life to this lost, lone girl, whom the iconic consumer-product

`Marilyn Monroe’ would soon overwhelm and obliterate."

Oates has previously read at SOS benefits with Daniel Halpern and

others. She was also invited by author Tobias Wolff, 1998 chair of

Writers Harvest, to donate short stories to SOS’s Writers Harvest

anthologies. The most recent, "Writers Harvest III," an


of 15 short stories edited by Tobias Wolff, was published by Dell

in 1999 ( $12.95).

Singer’s anthology, published in November by the Ecco Press and titled

"Writings on an Ethical Life: The Essential Singer," is billed

as a comprehensive collection of Singer’s best and most provocative

writing, selected by Singer himself, among the subjects addressed

are the moral status of animals, environmental accountability,


infanticide, euthanasia, and the ultimate choice of living an ethical


Last November, Singer expressed his thoughts on hunger and poverty

in a Princeton University lecture titled "World Hunger: Our


sponsored by the Student Volunteers Council. The previous month, in

an influential article published in the New York Times Magazine, he

wrote on the responsibility of developed nations to alleviate Third

World poverty. Singer wrote that he donates one-fifth of his income

to famine-relief agencies and recommended that if thousands of


readers contributed at least $200 to such relief services, world


could be alleviated.

— Nicole Plett

Joyce Carol Oates & Peter Singer, Barnes & Noble,

MarketFair, 609-897-9250. "The Art and Science of Fighting


a Share Our Strength Writers Harvest. Free. Tuesday, December 5,

7 p.m.

Top Of Page

Villagers Theater, 475 DeMott Lane, Somerset, has


Monday and Wednesday, December 4 and 6, with sign in at 7 p.m. for

"Man of La Mancha." Casting for 12 men and 6 women; prepare

16 bars of music to show vocal range. Director is Tina Lee.


The Pennington Players has auditions for "Charlotte’s

Web," Saturday and Sunday, December 9 and 10, for February


at Kelsey Theater, Mercer County College. Auditions by appointment

for adults, teens, and older children. Prepare a short monologue or

poem; bring resume and photo. For appointment call 609-737-PLAY.

Call for Entries

Princeton University invites high school and middle school

students to participate in its annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther

King Jr. by entering essay and poster contests. Essay submissions

should take the form of a letter to the new U.S. president advising

him on what to say or do to improve relations between the races in

this country. Poster contest is open to students in grades 4 to 6.

Deadline is Monday, December 18. For guidelines call 609-258-6429.

Rutgers Film Co-op and Eastman Kodak seek entries for

13th annual United States Super 8 Film and Digital Video Festival

February 16-18, at Rutgers, New Brunswick. Deadline for receipt of

entries is January 19 at noon. Call 732-932-8482; or visit

Volunteer Call

Habitat for Humanity, Trenton Area, 601 North Clinton

Avenue, a non-profit ecumenical housing ministry, seeks volunteers

to serve as support partners for Habitat families, construction team

leaders, public relations developers, and technical support for the

computer system. Cash donations are also welcomed. 609-393-8009.

The Salvation Army is in need of volunteer bell-ringers

for its annual campaign. Volunteers are asked to commit to four-hour

shifts. Call Tricia Pellegrini, toll free, 877-657-2769.

Donations Wanted

The League of Women’s Voters has begun its annual drive

for donations to Womanspace Inc., a nonprofit agency providing


to women in crisis. Its wish list includes children’s clothing,


sneakers, books, and toys; women’s sweat suits, skin lotion, journal

books; and food store gift certificates. Bring new, unwrapped gifts

to Peggy Killmer, Weichert Realtors, 350 Nassau Street, by Thursday,

December 14; or call 609-921-1900.

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