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Heaney Reads at Benefit

Nobel-Laureate Joins in Reading to Aid Anti-Hunger Efforts


Seamus Heaney, Boylston professor of rhetoric and oratory and a Nobel Laureate, joined three of his colleagues Monday night in the "Writers Harvest," a reading to benefit anti-hunger efforts.

More than 80 people packed the Lower Common Room of Adams House to hear short stories and poems from different parts of the world and contributed at least $600 to the Harvard leg of the nationwide poetry festival.

Both audience members and participants praised the readings' quality.

"It was the first reading I have been to in a long time where I have listened to every word and heard every word...because of the clarity of the voices," Heaney said after the event.

Peter Sacks, professor of English and American literature and language, who read three original poems, also praised fellow readers.

"I loved the serious dialect of each [reading], and the sense of region coming through each-Long Island, North Carolina, Ireland...," Sacks said.

Robert Cohen, Briggs-Copeland lecturer on English and American literature and language, read one section of a work in progress, a "long short story" which he called "a Long-Island Jewish version of 'The Death of Ivan Ilych.'"

The Southern accent came from Carolina Moon, a novel written by Jill McCorkle, Briggs-Copeland lecturer on English and American literature and language. McCorkle read the opening section of the book last night.

Audience members said they enjoyed the event.

"I thought it was fabulous," said Rhonda J. Rockwell, a preceptor in the Expository Writing Program. "I feel incredibly fed."

"If I had known about it earlier I would have told all my students to go," Rockwell said. "They could fill Sanders [Theatre]."

The turnout was in stark contrast to last year's, when seven faculty volunteered to read but no students attended.

Cohen, who had coordinated the Harvard event in the past, attributed last night's high turnout to the publicity efforts of undergraduate organizers and Heaney's popularity.

Heaney read two poems he had translated from Gaelic and two original poems, "Keeping Going" and "An Afterwards."

"I hope that it continues in the future. It's a really good organization and a way for people who write and people who read to do something tangible for the community-in addition to what they do already," organizer Nell L. Freudenberger '97 said.

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