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New Mexico State University

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Las Cruces community and Visiting Author Series team up to fight hunger

New Mexico State University poetry professor Connie Voisine and University of Texas at El Paso fiction professor Daniel Chacon will be the featured guests in the ninth annual Share Our Strength (SOS) Reading to raise money to feed the hungry. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 9, at the Court Youth Center, 410 W. Court Ave, Las Cruces.

New Mexico State University poetry professor Connie Voisine will be featured in the ninth annual Share Our Strength Reading Friday, Nov. 9.

ed by the New Mexico State English department along with La Sociedad para las Artes, the annual benefit raises money for Casa de Peregrinos, a food bank in Las Cruces that has provided food boxes for the needy since 1985.

Last year the event raised $4,000, and event coordinator Antonya Nelson said the goal for this year is $6,000. The reading is one of many to be held nationwide this fall in an effort to stop hunger.

"Las Cruces has broken a few records in the amount of money raised," Nelson said. "More than once we've been top sales. That's a testament to the community's support."

Nelson said of the more than 100 cities that participate, Las Cruces raised the highest amount of money in 1996 and 1997.

Connie Voisine joined the master of fine arts program in creative writing at New Mexico State University this fall. She received her doctorate in creative writing from the University of Utah.

Her first book of poetry, "Cathedral of the North," won the 1999 Associated Writing Program's Poetry Prize. It focuses on life in a small town near the Maine-Canada border.

"The book is about a French-Acadian family dealing with poverty set against a young girl's growing life of the mind. Theirs is a culture infused with story-telling and catholic mysticism," Voisine said.

Her second book of poetry, still in the works, deals with similar social issues, but with a wider perspective and a focus on cross-cultural contact. Voisine used primary sources such as pioneer journals and narratives of pioneers taken captive by Native Americans to inspire her writing.

"I feel the urgency to try to articulate stories people need to hear; stories dealing with social and economic situations such as poverty and education," Voisine said.

Daniel Chacon is the author of "Chicano Chicanery," a collection of short stories that was a finalist for the 2001 Patterson Fiction Prize. Before taking his position in the master in fine arts program at the University of Texas at El Paso, Chacon taught creative writing at Southwest State University in southern Minnesota.

He has been anthologized in "The Floating Borderlands: 25 Years of Hispanic Literature, "Our Working Lives" and the forthcoming "Anthology of People of Color on Humor."

His stories have appeared in Calaloo, Colorado Review, New England Review, Quarterly West, The Bilingual Review and many others.

The reading will be followed by a reception at Cattleman's Steak House on North Main, where musical entertainment will be provided by local band Last Men on Earth.

The roots-rock/alternative country band consists of members Chris Schurtz, Eric Hisaw, Dave Chavez and Dave Wheeler.

Tickets for the event are $12 and can be purchased in the university's English department, Sky's the Limit coffee house at 3111 S. Main, Claymore's Coffee Shop inside Coas My Bookstore at 317 N. Main, Nellie's Cafe at 1226 W. Hadley Ave. and at The Bean coffee house in Old Mesilla across from the Fountain Theater. Tickets also will be available at the door.

For more information, call Antonya Nelson at (505) 646-3536.