“Listening to Literature,” which airs every Friday from 12:05 to 1 p.m. on WRUU 107.5FM, spotlights Savannah’s vibrant (and underappreciated) writing community through weekly author interviews, book reviews, discussions and readings. Now its co-hosts, Leigh Rich, P.T. Bridgeport, and Dr. Carol Andrews, are taking their show from the air to the stage for a WRUU fundraising writer’s event cleverly called “Reading Allowed.”
“Reading Allowed” will feature six noted authors from Savannah’s writing community who will each read some of their work, discuss their craft, answer questions, and sign autographs or copies of their books.
“We have done other readings with much more local people, but this is a step up for us,” said Bridgeport of the inaugural event. “The philosophy behind this is that even though Savannah’s art community isn’t as recognized as it should be, at least people know that we have it. I think people who write, who live in Savannah, are deserving of at least that much recognition, if not more. This is something that benefits the station and also gives visibility to writing in Savannah, which is something that has been ignored.”
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Since first airing in 2016, the hosts of “Listening to Literature” have witnessed Savanah’s writing community grow, with a number of literary events (big and small) offering outlets for writers, and many authors even reaching national audiences.
“We’re really starting to see more and more Savannah writers are getting more recognition beyond just Savannah,” said Rich. “And we have writers who are not only grown locally here, but writers who come from elsewhere and make Savannah their home.”
A variety of wonderful voices will be highlighted including a novelist, a features writer, a newspaper journalist, a memoirist, and a poet. There is something for every kind of reader (and holiday shopper).
“Since it will be Nov. 30, we’re right in the middle of that holiday season, so having some variety also gives attendees a chance to pick up some items,” said Rich. “You may have a poet in your life, but you might have somebody that would rather have a fiction novel.”
“Or something about fishing and other sports,” Bridgeport added with a laugh.
Savannah authors to read and raise funds for local radio station
The program will begin with a reading by Ariel Felton. Felton’s fingerprints are all over Savannah’s literary scene as president of the Flannery O’Conner Childhood Home Board of Directors, as well as a board member of the Savannah Book Festival and Seersucker Live. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Vogue, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Bitter Southerner, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Savannah Magazine, and more.
Savannah activist and environmentalist Vicki Weeks will follow with a reading from her novel, Code of Honor, which explores the events of the Iraqi War. Weeks is also the founder of 99 Percent, a platform for progressive fiction.
Poet Laura Davenport, who is also board member of Seersucker Live, is the author of Dear Vulcan (LSU Press, 2020) and the chapbook Little Hates (Dancing Girl Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2009, Crab Orchard Review, Meridian, Connotation Press, and others. Her prose has appeared in the Ploughshares “Writers on Writing” blog.
Amy Paige Condon, an editor for the Savannah Morning News, is the author of the biography A Nervous Man Shouldn’t Be Here in the First Place: The Life of Bill Baggs. Her book is about one of the most influential (and unknown) newspaper editors of the 20th century. In 2017, Condon founded the Refinery Writing Studio which helps aspiring and established authors hone their storytelling skills.
Artist Rob Hessler is one of the leading voices in covering Savannah’s art community. Hessler reports on local artists and events for Savannah Morning News, and also serves on the Savannah Cultural Affairs Commission. Hessler is no stranger to WRUU as he used to host the art broadcast “Art on the Air.”
The program will conclude with Captain Judy Helmey. For over five decades Helmey has been providing charter trips for fishermen. Helmey inherited the business from her father, Sherman Helmey, whose wilder exploits are documented at the American Prohibition Museum. Helmey tells stories about her and her father’s life on the water in her book, My Father, The Sea, and Me.
“I live on Wilmington Island and Captain Judy Helmey is our famous person out there,” said Bridgeport. “She has fascinating stories. Her father got started running liquor between passing freighters and the shore for Al Capone, and she has some presentations on it. She’s a wonderful speaker.”
“She’s your Hemingway,” added Rich.
“Reading Allowed” has a $10 suggested donation. All proceeds go to helping WRUU continue to provide quality, volunteer-led community radio with global soul.
“One of the things I love about WRUU, it’s been a wonderful community to be a part of and a collaborative, open community with so many interesting people with so many different, interesting shows,” said Rich.
If You Go >>
What: WRUU Writer’s Event- Reading Allowed
When: 5:30-8:30 p.m., Nov. 30
Where: Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah, 311 E. Harris St.
Cost: $10 suggested donation