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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 (www.dellbooks.com. $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. www.princetoninfo.com/200011/01129s02.html
— Nicole Plett
MarketFair, 609-897-9250. "The Art and Science of Fighting
a Share Our Strength Writers Harvest. Free. Tuesday, December 5,
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.
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
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.
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
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.
for its annual campaign. Volunteers are asked to commit to four-hour
shifts. Call Tricia Pellegrini, toll free, 877-657-2769.
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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