Miami University grad students host Writer’s Harvest to benefit food pantry

OXFORD — The 32nd annual Writer’s Harvest, hosted by Miami University’s creative writing program, is set Monday night with proceeds benefiting Talawanda Oxford Pantry & Social Services (TOPSS).

Four Miami University graduate students will read an assortment of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction stories alongside an art auction available via Zoom.

Kara Anand-Gall, a graduate assistant in the English department at Miami University, is helping to organize the event and said the Writer’s Harvest helps to give a stage to the different kinds of works that students are writing.

“From the writing standpoint, we always try to represent the different genres of the program,” Anand-Gall said. “So we want to sort of give a broad spectrum of the different kinds of works that the students are writing.”

The quick-paced event, which begins at 6 p.m., allows 10 minutes for each writer to share their story.

“Having an audience is really exciting,” Anand-Gall said. “You’re writing these things that feel important and exciting, and sometimes it can be very lonely as a writer, so to have people there to witness and react and give you feedback afterwards is very fun.”

Miami University’s Director of Creative Writing, Brian Roley, said he appreciates the feedback and reception the Writer’s Harvest gives aspiring writers each year.

“I think it’s the fact that you are writing and sharing your writing for something else, you know, other than yourself,” Roley said. “It just adds a great deal of excitement to the event.”

The event has collaborated with the Western Center for Social Impact and Innovation since 2019 when Billy Sims, coordinator for the Western Center, and the former director of creative writing, teamed up to give the event a service aspect behind it.

“They just wanted to see what we can add to the Writer’s Harvest, and I suggested, because I have a background in art, about also adding an art option,” Sims said. “So while we have the readers and listen to the great reading, you in between, have a link and people can go bid on artwork.”

This year’s artwork includes 12 pieces, all but one donated by former Miami University professor Ellen Price, a printmaking professor for 33 years before recently retiring.

Ritika Bali, a graduate student seeking a master’s in English, said she plans to share a short story about various topics.

“I will be sharing a short fictional piece, and it is going to be about nostalgia, finding its way through borders,” Bali said. “It’s about conflict and loss, and one’s childhood home, and the disconnect within memories.”

Bali said she is grateful for the opportunity to present her thoughts to a receptive audience, especially for a good cause.

“What I talk about, it is something everybody can connect to it, and everybody finds it relatable,” Bali said. “It’s talking about the human condition.”

Kate Isaacs, a graduate student seeking her master’s in English and a writer involved in the event, appreciates the fundraiser aspect of the event.

“It feels like you’re being a part of something bigger, and I’m from a low-income family, I grew up on food stamps and welfare, and we used to get our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals from a food pantry from donations,” Isaacs said. “So having grown up with that, I was extremely grateful and if I can help give back to that, that’s something I’d like to be a part of.”

The event is a part of Share our Strength, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to fighting hunger in the United States. The organization founded Writer’s Harvest as a national event in 1992, with similar local events being held across the country.

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