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Writers Read for Homeless

Poets, Novelists Convene at Sanders Theatre Benefit

By Sara M. Mulholland

More than 1200 people filled Sanders Theatre yesterday evening for a night of book-reading, story-telling and fundraising for local homeless shelters.

"Voices Louder Than Words," sponsor of the benefit, is a nonprofit organization inspired by the book of the same name. The $12,000 raised from last night's benefit will go to the Cambridge YWCA Homeless Family Residence Program, the Family-to-Family project, and the Somerville Homeless Coalition.

Seven prominent writers appeared at the event, including Stephen King, author of Needful Things, Carrie, Misery and several other popular horror novels; Jonathan Kozol, author of Rachel and Her Children and Savage Inequalities), John Edgar Wideman, author of Philadelphia Fire, and Jamaica Kincaid, author of Lucy.

Kozol, host of the evening, began with some somber statements about the problem of homelessness. "There are over two million homeless in America tonight. If we put them all in one place, they would represent a population bigger than Atlanta," he said.

Wideman read a story called "The Newborn Thrown in the Trash Dies." The story, told from a baby's standpoint, kept the audience in a chilling silence.

Kincaid read a portion of one of her books after overcoming her speechlessness following Wideman's reading. She finally shrugged her shoulders and said, "I feel so shallow after that...I'll just read this very quickly." Despite her disclaimers, the audience was very receptive to her presentation.

Finally, Robert B. Parker, author of Pastime, introduced the "most successful author in the history of the printed word," King.

"I generally don't like to read scary things at events like this. It's a big crowd here tonight, and I like to get you alone," King said. "What the hell? Maybe this one time, I'll try to scare the crap out of you," he said.

King proceeded to read Chapter 13 of his novel as all the lights dimmed in the auditorium.

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