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Share Our Strength reading to be held Oct. 22

Writers Don Kurtz and Valerie Martinez will be the featured readers at the seventh annual Share Our Strength reading to benefit Casa de Peregrinos at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, at the Court Youth Center, 410 W. Court Ave.

(Top) New Mexico State University English assistant professor and novelist Don Kurtz. (Bottom) Award-winning poet Valerie Martinez.

The event, which is sponsored by the New Mexico State University English department and La Sociedad para las Artes, will be part of a night of nationwide readings to benefit local hunger-relief organizations.

Kurtz, an NMSU Spanish assistant professor, is the author of the novel "South of the Big Four," which has been highly praised by the Washington Post and Boston Globe. He also has been published in Epoch, The Iowa Review and Puerto del Sol literary magazines. Kurtz is also a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship recipient.

Martinez, of Santa Fe, is an English department faculty member at New Mexico Highlands University. Her first book of poems, "Absence, Luminescent," won the Larry Levis Prize for Poetry and a Greenwall Grant from the Academy of American Poets. Her work has been published in Parnassus, Puerto del Sol and The Bloomsbury Review literary magazines and "Best American Poetry 1996." She also has taught writing at the universities of Arizona and New Mexico and in southern Africa.

Tickets are $10 and available at the NMSU English department office.

Proceeds will go to Las Cruces food bank Casa de Peregrinos, which provides needy people with foods such as dried pinto beans, flour, rice and corn tortillas. Canned goods and other items such as diapers and shampoo are also accepted as donations. Casa de Peregrinos assists food stamp recipients, unemployed people, people receiving worker's compensation, laid-off workers and other people facing hard circumstances, food bank director Rebecca Renteria said.

"The event is a big help to the food bank especially during this time when the food box supplies run low after the summer months," Renteria said.

Last year's event raised about $5,000, NMSU English associate professor Antonya Nelson said. Nelson said the department hopes to raise about $6,000 this year.

Following the readings there will be a rockabilly cotillion at El Patio in Mesilla featuring Cave Catt Sammie. The San Antonio band, which has opened for Jerry Lewis and other performers, is a four-piece stand-up and plays a blend of 1950s rock n' roll. Tickets for the readings will include the cotillion.

For more information about SOS, call Shannon McCormick at (505) 646-3931 or Antonya Nelson at (505) 646-3536. For volunteer information at Casa de Peregrinos, call Rebecca Renteria at (505) 523-5542.