Lauren Groff. Photo by Megan Brown.

Every year since 2008, novelist Charles Baxter has hosted an annual hunger benefit at the University of Minnesota. Being a writer, he built it around readings, first with local writers---other faculty members of the U's creative writing program, such as Julie Schumacher, Patricia Hampl, Michael Dennis Browne, Madelon Sprengnether, and Peter Campion, and later with visiting writers---Robert Boswell and Jess Row.

Some people read, other people listen, and everybody who chooses to brings $5 (or more) for Second Harvest Heartland.

This year novelist Lauren Groff, author of "Fates & Furies" (a finalist for both a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award) will read. But she won’t be alone. The U is inviting U of M students to submit one page of poetry or prose on the subject of food. (A great meal? A lousy meal? A meal shared? A meal withheld?) If your manuscript is chosen, you get to read too.  

One page. If you're not a U of M student, there's probably not time to apply to the U and get accepted; the deadline to submit is 2 p.m. Jan. 24.

Do not include your name on the sheet, but staple your entry to a cover sheet with your name, the title of the piece, your email, and your status as a student. Two winners will be chosen--one from the undergrad ranks, one from the grad ranks.

You won’t know who won until the night of the reading, so you might want to dress well when you go, just in case. (Black turtleneck? Beret?) And bring your reading glasses. (Extra cool points if they're also sunglasses.)

The benefit will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 2 at University Hall in the MacNamara Alumni Center. Win or lose, it'll be a fine evening: You can donate to the food shelf and listen to Groff’s lush prose.

Everybody wins. 

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