Forty writers and readers filled Peirce Lounge last Friday evening, to listen to eight Kenyon student writers read their work aloud. This was part of Poetry and Prose for PEKK (also known as the annual Writer’s Harvest), an event to raise money for the East Knox local school district’s music program.
The Writer’s Harvest has been a Kenyon tradition since the mid-90s when it was run in concert with the Kenyon Review’s Empty Bowls event. (In recent years, the two events have operated independently.) This year, the Partnership of East Knox and Kenyon (PEKK) organized the event to foster community relations between Kenyon and Knox County. AVI provided free refreshments, and literary magazines HIKA, Persimmons and the Kenyon Review each arranged for different writers to read short pieces of prose or poetry. These writers were Brandonlee Cruz ’19, Mollie Greenberg ’19, Tyler Raso ’19, Brent Matheny ’19, Claire Oleson ’19 and Elana Spivack ’17, Natalie Keller ’19, Madeline Farr ’18, Sylvie Robinson ’20, Katherine Connolly ’17, and Trudy Wrona ’20. The subject matter ranged from seeing an old friend at Walmart to God to a fear of squids.
The event raised money through a $2 suggested donation at the door and a literary raffle hosted by the Kenyon Review. Raffle prizes included a Kenyon Review tote bag and several books of prose and poetry. They raised $135 and all proceeds will help East Knox school district repair broken musical instruments and buy new ones.
The East Knox school district has not had the funds to offer musical instruments to students who wish to play in the school band. PEKK, as part of its larger goal of supporting East Knox schools, aims to change that. Sarah Sklar ’19, who planned the event as part of her role as Outreach Chair for PEKK, described the need for music in schools. “I work with kindergarteners,” Sklar said, “so I go in every week and I see these five- and six year-olds trying to concentrate and do well in school, which is really hard when they’re not able to put their energy into anything except for sitting at a desk and working on standardized tests.”
In addition to providing financial support for East Knox, the event planners hoped it would lead to a greater sense of community between Kenyon and Knox County. “I think in the past couple years the event has taken on a special significance — I mean, last year it was the same night as the terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut,” HIKA Editor-in-Chief Liam Horsman said. “I think people were really in a place to think about what it means to be in a local community and what it means to be in a community at large.”