Readings 2013


Laundry Line Divine presents: Out of the Mouths of Babes ~ March 1, 2013

Friday, March 1
Laundry Line Divine presents:
Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others
Hosted by Suzi Banks Baum and Gina Hyams with special guest Susan Engel, author and professor at Williams College
Featuring readings by Suzi Banks Baum, Alana Chernila, Nichole Dupont, Janet Reich Elsbach, Michelle Gillett, and Jenny Laird

Celebrating the book launch of An Anthology of Babes: Thirty-six Women Give Motherhood a Voice.

Dewey Hall, Sheffield, 7–9: 30 p.m. (see map below)
$5 suggested donation

Returning this year after a standing-room-only premiere at last year’s Festival, “Out of the Mouths of Babes” offers readings from six Berkshire women authors, ranging from a young single mother to a mother of adult children. Join us to be entertained, challenged, echoed, and encouraged. Favorite bedtime snacks will be served at intermission, and following the readings, special guest Susan Engel will join writer and editor Gina Hyams and Suzi Banks Baum in a discussion of motherhood and creativity.

Suzi Banks Baum, by Christina Lane Photography

Suzi Banks Baum, an artist, writer, and full-time mom, can be found creating community wherever she goes. While writing her first book, Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers, Suzi discovered the vital voices of mothers who make art while raising children. Suzi is a theater professional, group facilitator, mixed-media collage artist, and mother of two teens. She lives in Berkshire County.

Alana Chernila writes, cooks, sells fresh vegetables, and teaches kids to cook. She created the blog Eating from the Ground Up in 2008. Alana is a graduate of St. John’s College in Santa Fe and lives with her husband and two young daughters in Great Barrington, MA, where she is a selectman. Alana’s first book, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, was published by Clarkson Potter in spring 2012.

Nichole Dupont i
s a freelance writer and editor based in Sheffield, MA. A native of the Berkshires and a fourth-generation logger, she has cultivated a passion for food, farming, and community. Her work has appeared in NewsdayBerkshire Magazine, the Advocate Weekly, and Rural Intelligence, where she is an associate editor. She also writes for the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. Sometimes she reads poetry in public, fishes for stripers in the Atlantic, and roller-skates. A former literature teacher and observer of people, she has written short stories. She also maintains a blog about the snarkier side of rural feminism and single motherhood.

Janet Reich Elsbach is a mother of three. Her interests include: what to have for dinner tonight; what to have for dinner tomorrow; whether her children are rested, fed, and encouraged; getting out of the grocery store with as little plastic packaging material as possible; and saving the bees, the oceans, and the last vestiges of true democracy. With her husband, the artist Bart Elsbach, she is managed by a small sheep farm. She writes about all of this when she can stay awake long enough.

Michelle Gillett has been a regular op-ed columnist for the Berkshire Eagle for over twenty years. An award-winning poet, she was a longtime contributing editor to the former Women’s Times. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, OrionSanctuary, Art of the Times, and other publications. Her works include A Kitchen Gardener’s Cookbook; a collection of essays entitled In Celebration of Motherhood; and two collections of poetry, Rock & Spindle, a letterpress chapbook published by Mad River Press, and Blinding the Goldfinches, published in 2005 and chosen by Hayden Carruth as winner of the Backwaters Poetry Prize. She received her MFA from Warren Wilson College and a BS from Skidmore College. Michelle lives in Stockbridge, MA.

Gina Hyams is the author of eight books on various confounding subjects and creator of the “In a Box” cooking contest series of book-kits for pie, chili, and Christmas cookies. She lives in Housatonic with her family.

Jenny Laird
was a longtime Chicago Playwright and Arts Advocate before settling in the Berkshires. She is the author of several award-winning plays: Ballad Hunter (Chicago’s Cunningham Prize for Playwriting), Sky Girls (NEA Distinguished New Play Grant, Selma Melvoin New Play Award), and Only the Sound (Illinois Arts Council Grant, Chicago’s Jeff Award for Outstanding New Work, 2002). With her husband, composer Randy Courts, Jenny is currently adapting a series of musicals based on The Magic Tree House books for Music Theatre International’s Broadway Junior Collection. When she is not writing plays, she is busy running an intensive home-based play therapy program for her wondrous son, Quinn. Ballad Hunter at Amazon

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Why Sedna Matters to Women Writers ~ March 2, 2013

Saturday, March 2
Why Sedna Matters to Women Writers
Led by Mary Kate Jordan
Mason Library, Great Barrington, 10 a.m.–noon

Sedna, an ancient Inuit archetype, gave her name to a planetary body discovered in 2003. Sedna’s story matters to women who honor—or would like to honor—the rich possibilities of their own life stories. Women who like to get beneath the surface of things with words will find Sedna’s assistance invaluable. In this morning of storytelling followed by a Q&A, we’ll explore aspects of Sedna’s silent presence among us. We’ll discover that myth accompanies meaning at the deepest levels and experience why the deepest levels of meaning are called mythic. We’ll invite ourselves and our writing into the shamanic depths where ancient mystery and contemporary science merge into story.

Mary Kate Jordan is the author of The Bridge Called Grief, a book-length photo essay on loss, grief, and the hope of renewal. She lives in Monterey, MA, and takes photos both at home and away.



Women of a Certain Age ~ March 2, 2013

Saturday, March 2
Women of a Certain Age
Reading hosted by Sonia Pilcer, with Allyson Dinneen, Barbara Janoff, Susie Kaufman, Ellen Meeropol, and Lee Schwartz

Mason Library, Great Barrington, 1–3 p.m.

Perhaps age and experience give us the courage to express things we kept under wraps when we were younger. Certainly our writing skills improve with time, as does the desire to say the unsaid. Come and hear a group of older women writers share their passions and what they know. There will be a discussion and Q&A afterward. Come and join the dialogue.

Novelist, playwright, and poet Sonia Pilcer began publishing novels in her twenties. She has taught for many years at the Writers Voice in Manhattan and at Berkshire Community College. Her books include Teen Angel, Maiden Rites, Little Darlings, I-Land: Manhattan Monologues, and The Holocaust Kid. She will be reading from her new novel, The Last

Allyson Dinneen has a BA in environmental science and an MA in family therapy. She is at work on a semiautobiographical novel. She has always been attracted to the mysterious, both in nature and in family life. She lives in Housatonic, MA, with her two youngest children.

Barbara Janoff’s essays and poetry are published in Columbia: A Women’s Journal, Communication Arts, the Berkshire Review, and by Allworth Press. She is an associate professor of English at the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, which has granted her a sabbatical next semester to explore themes of grief and recovery in her writing.  Fashion Institute of Technology

Susie Kaufman’s spiritual writing has appeared in the Jesuit magazine America, as well as in Presence, the quarterly journal of Spiritual Directors International. She recently won second prize in the New Marlboro Mystery Writer’s Contest. “Man About Town” is a version of a chapter from a novel she was working on in 2002. Another chapter of the same work was published in Lilith.

Ellen Meeropol’s writing explores characters at the intersection of political turmoil, ethical dilemma, and family life. Publishers Weekly gave her debut novel, House Arrest, a starred review, calling it “thoughtful and tightly composed, unflinching in taking on challenging subjects and deliberating uneasy ethical conundrums.”

Lee Schwartz is a two-time winner of the Allen Ginsberg Award. Lee has been a Poet in Residence at the 92nd St Y, and read with Allen Ginsberg at NYC’s St. Mark’s Church, Billy Collins at the Bowery Poetry Club, and local poets at the Mill River General Store. This spring she will be mounting a takeoff on Brecht/Weill entitled The Two and a Half Penny Occupy Opera.


Getting Married and Other Mistakes ~ March 2, 2013

Saturday, March 2, 2013
Getting Married and Other Mistakes
Reading with Barbara Slate, graphic novelist
The Bookstore, Lenox, 4–5:30 p.m.

Barbara Slate will be reading from her semiautobiographical graphic novel, Getting Married and Other Mistakes (Other Press, 2012), the story of a woman who trusted everybody’s voices except her own. Ms. Slate will talk about her career in the fiercely male-dominated, super-spandexed world of comic books and how, by being the voice for Barbie, Betty, Veronica, Angel Love, Pocahontas, and many more, she was able to get her own voice heard. Barbara’s tale begins in the early ’70s with her creation of Ms. Liz, the first feminist greeting card.

Barbara Slate has written over three hundred comic books and graphic novels for DC, Marvel, Archie, and Disney. She is profiled in the seminal work A Century of Women Cartoonists. Barbara teaches the art of the graphic novel in schools and libraries, using her critically acclaimed textbook You Can Do a Graphic Novel. (at Amazon)


Made in the Berkshires presents: Exquisite Dilemmas: Women and Choices ~ March 2, 2013

Saturday, March 2, 2013
Made in the Berkshires presents:
Exquisite Dilemmas: Women and Choices
Hosted by Hilary Somers Deely and Barbara Sims, featuring Sally-Jane Heit, Susan Merrill, and Joy Spivak
Unicorn Theater, Stockbridge, 7:30 p.m.
$20 admission to benefit the 2013 Made in the Berkshires Festival
For tickets, contact the Colonial Theatre box office at (413) 997-4444

Choice: n. the act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities. adj. of very good quality

Join us as we eavesdrop on women who are exploring the exquisite dilemma of choosing how to live their lives. You’ll go from glee to sorrow and back again with Before I Forget, a delicious look at one woman’s life, loves, and losses, written and performed by Sally-Jane Heit with music by Uel Wade. We’ll reprise the 2012 Made in the Berkshires audience favorite The Rabbi Auditions, by Joy Spivak, in which the temple’s three-person search committee kvells, kvetches, and finally chooses a new rabbi. And we’ll round out the evening with humor, insight and personal recollections from Susan Merrill, the Berkshires’ favorite storyteller.

Sally-Jane Heit grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and trained at the High School of Performing Arts, Hunter College, and Yale Drama School. After raising three daughters in Washington, DC, she moved to New York and was cast in Michael Bennett’s Broadway musical Ballroom. Her impressive list of professional credits includes theater, television, and film. It was an inspired encounter with Lily Tomlin that ignited the passion that has evolved into her latest production, Before I Forget . . . A Musical


Stockbridge painter and writer Susan Merrill has exhibited her paintings in numerous local venues, including, for the past five years, an annual solo show of farm animal paintings at Hancock Shaker Village.  She began writing when Lyn Austin, the head of the Music Theater Group,  asked her to write something for her annual Berkshire Writers evening. As no one could ever say no to Lyn Austin, that’s when it all started. For many years Susan read stories at the Williamsville Inn, at the request of innkeeper Gail Ryan, as part of her Stories for a Winter Evening series. The stories eventually turned themselves into two novels. Warm Morning, published in 2010, is about growing up in a magic house on a farm in rural Maryland, where Susan spent  her childhood winters. The other novel, Cool Evening, not yet published, is about another house, this one in the Berkshires, and it is from this book that Susan will read tonight.


Prior to playwriting, Joy Spivak made records and performed in Las Vegas, writing her own shows and comedy. She later changed careers, becoming the second female police officer in New Jersey. She and her husband, Jerry, reside in Naples, FL, and West Stockbridge, MA.



Made in the Berkshires is a locally grown festival of new works including theatre, film, dance, poetry, music, short stories, performance, and visual art, under the aegis of the Berkshire Theatre Group.

Hilary Somers Deely is co-curator of Made in the Berkshires. An actress, director, and producer, Hilary has headed three academic theater programs in independent schools and is an emeritus member of the Berkshire Theatre Festival board and a member of the advisory board for the Berkshire Fringe. Most recently, she joined the Fringe in its artists’ residency at Mass MOCA in a world premiere production of The Waypoint. She has voiced three roles in Gregory Whitehead’s BBC 4 radio plays; stage managed and acted in several productions at Joan Ackerman’s Mixed Company; coproduced the third year of Ten Minutes in the Berkshires; directed an Equity touring Company of My Children, My Africa; and has appeared in staged productions at the Berkshire Theatre Festival and the Runway Theatre in Grapevine, TX.


Barbara Sims is co-curator of Made in the Berkshires and was a co-producer for the Free Concerts in Lilac Park series in 2010 and 2011. Her theater credits include A Streetcar Named Desire with Natasha Richardson and Noises Off with Patti LuPone on Broadway. Her Off-Broadway roles include the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Entertaining Mr. Sloane, with Alec Baldwin; Juno and the PaycockArms and the Man, directed by Roger Rees at Circle in the Square Theatre; The Hope Zone, with Olympia Dukakis; and Trip to Bountiful, with Ellen Burstyn. She has also performed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Shakespeare & Company, Stages Repertory Theatre, and the Houston Shakespeare Festival. Her film and TV credits include Law & Order: SVUGuiding Light; PBS’s End of the Line; and Cornflower Blue.


Cows Save the Planet: How to Find and Tell Stories of Ecological and Economic Restoration ~ March 3, 2013

Sunday, March 3
The New Economics Institute presents:
Cows Save the Planet: How to Find and Tell Stories of Ecological and Economic Restoration
Reading and discussion with Judith D. Schwartz , Billie Best, and Phyllis Webb
American Institute of Economic Research, Great Barrington, 3–5 p.m.

The way we see the world and its challenges is often framed by the stories we hear and tell ourselves. This panel will focus on stories for the new economy and new solutions to problems in which we feel stuck, including the stories Judith D. Schwartz found that led to her upcoming book, Cows Save the Planet. We will highlight both global and Berkshire-based narratives of resilience and renewal. We will explore how narratives can be honed and shared so as to harness optimism and create momentum for change.

Judith D. Schwartz, a freelance writer based in Bennington, VT, has written about environmental economics for Pacific Standard, Time, and the Christian Science Monitor. She is the author of Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth, due out from Chelsea Green Publishing in May.

Billie Best is a writer, farmer, and community activist. She spent many years in the corporate world as a marketing consultant. Recently, she became executive director of Project Native, a nonprofit farm in the Berkshires.

Phyllis Webb
and her husband own and run the Magic Fluke Co., a ukulele manufacturing company in Sheffield.  She has held numerous leadership positions in community organizations and has been an advocate for strong local economies for more than twenty years. She currently serves on the boards of BerkShares and Music in Common.


Fleeting Reality: Interpreting Place in Words and Images ~ March 4, 2013

Monday, March 4
Fleeting Reality: Interpreting Place in Words and Images
Featuring Marie-Elizabeth Mali and Lynnette Lucy Najimy
Leibowitz International Center, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 7–9 p.m.

Join photographer-writers Marie-Elizabeth Mali and Lynnette Lucy Najimy as they share their creative works in photographs and words inspired by places on opposite sides of the earth. Captivated by the underwater lifescape in Indonesia, Marie-Elizabeth wants to “capture” as much of it as she can before it disappears due to climate change and unsustainable fishing practices. She will share underwater photos, poems, and prose from her travels. While exploring the old Great Barrington Fairgrounds, Lynnette discovered through the lens of her camera a parallel between the site’s transformation and her own past, present, and future. She expresses her shift in perspective in words and images over a four-year span.

Marie-Elizabeth Mali

Lynette Lucy Najimy

Marie-Elizabeth Mali is the author of Steady, My Gaze (Tebot Bach, 2011) and coeditor, with Annie Finch, of the anthology Villanelles (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets, 2012). She lives in Housatonic, MA, and New York.

Lynnette Lucy Najimy is a multimedia producer with an MA in philanthropy and media from Suffolk University. She is a Berkshire native and currently lives in Housatonic, MA.



Cuatro mujeres, cuatro géneros/Four Women, Four Genres ~ March 5, 2013

Cuatro mujeres, cuatro géneros/Four Women, Four Genres
Multimedia presentation and discussion hosted by Holly Brown
Liebowitz International Center, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 7–9 p.m.

To browse through most contemporary anthologies of Latin American literature is to come away with the misconception that Latin American women have no voice in the Spanish-speaking literary or artistic world. In support of these underrepresented female artists, this workshop will showcase four examples of different creative genres by women from Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil. The bilingual presentation will be led by Holly Brown, professor of Spanish language and literature at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, with student presenters Olivia Dhaliwal, Paola Garcia, Melissa Sherman-Bennett, Abby Smith, and Mayu Suzuki. There will be a round-table discussion plus an opportunity for participants to engage in an unstructured creative writing activity at the close of the presentation.

Brief biographies of artists to be showcased:


Gabriela Mistral

Gabriela Mistral (b. 1889) was a Chilean educator, poet, and feminist. She was also the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1945.


self-portrait by Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo (b. 1907) was a Mexican painter well known for her distinctive self-portraits. She was an autodidact.

Short Story:

María Teresa Solari Ormachea (c. 1910) was a Bolivian born Professor, poet and political activist. She was also Director of Eco femenino magazine.


Clarice Lispector

Clarice Lispector (b. 1920) was a Ukranian born, Brazilian novelist and journalist.


Brief biographies of event participants:

Olivia Dhaliwal is a student in her first year of Bard College at Simon’s Rock. She doesn’t know what her major will be yet, but she looks forward to seeing the world and helping people in her future with whatever career enables her to do so.

Paola Garcia

Paola Garcia is a student in her second year at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. She majors in Digital Media and Cultural Studies and looks forward to doing a lot of different film related work documenting various cultures and countries.

Melissa Sherman-Bennett is a first year student at Bard College at Simon’s Rock hailing from Taos, New Mexico. She is planning on majoring in mathematics and physics, unless the world of literature lures her away from her beloved variables. Graduation is much too far away for her to imagine what she might be doing after college, but it will probably be exciting.

Abigail Smith is in her first year at Simon’s Rock and plan on majoring in Biology. After Simon’s Rock I’ll probably study pediatric medicine. Gracias.

Mayu Suzuki is a sophomore in Simon’s Rock. She majors in literature and creative writing, and upon completing her degree she plans on going to graduate school.

Holly Brown teaches Spanish language and literature this year at Simon’s Rock as a faculty fellow hailing from Bard High School Early College in Queens and is pursuing her PhD. in Medieval Spanish Literature.


The Berkshire Immigrant Center presents: Coming to America ~ March 6, 2013

March 6, 2013
The Berkshire Immigrant Center presents:
Coming to America: a reading hosted by Greta Phinney, with Marcela Villada Peacock, Youlin Shi, Liliana Sills, and Yuko Takaya
Griffin Hall #3 Williams College, Williamstown, 4:15 p.m.

The Berkshire Festival of Women Writers has inspired the Berkshire Immigrant Center (BIC) to mark Women’s History Month by encouraging and supporting immigrant woman to share their unique and compelling stories. In a series of workshops led by Greta Phinney, who has successfully conducted adult workshops for English as a Second Language both in Pittsfield and abroad, this diverse group of women have prepared their stories to present. None of the participants had previously documented their stories and each faced the challenges of writing and reading in a second language. The women were selected from BIC clients, friends, and through public notice. They have taken the theme “coming to America” in many directions, representing their diverse cultures and rich life experiences.

Greta Phinney was a public school teacher for thirty-seven years. She first used the workshop approach with elementary teachers who were English language learners, while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Namibia in 1998. In 2003, she experimented with using this approach with students in an English-speaking school in Vanuatu. She began teaching English as a foreign language in Costa Rica in 2006. Since then she has taught English to adults in Buenos Aires and Costa Rica and trained teachers to teach English. She has worked at the Adult Learning Center in Pittsfield, teaching community classes in English, at both beginner and intermediate levels. “Having the opportunity to use my skills as a teacher and a writer to empower others is deeply rewarding!”

Marcela Villada Peacock left Mexico in 1974 to follow her husband to California, where he was a PhD student. She had completed three and half years of a psychology program at the National University in Mexico City. She and her husband live in Williamstown, where they raised their three daughters, all of whom are bilingual. Marcela has worked for the past eighteen years as the program coordinator of Williams College Multicultural Center, now the Davis Center, where she supports minority students and their families. “I want to share this story because my heart now is on the other side of the border. I am interested in issues about immigration and I want to help my people to make the transition, which I know is not easy.”

Youlin Shi was born in China, graduated from Heibei University, and taught history at a college in Beijing. Her husband, Kailia, came to the United States in 1986 to attend graduate school. She followed in 1987 and they became citizens in 2000. They now live in North Adams, where Youlin is a tai-chi instructor and Kailai is a history professor at MCLA. Their daughter is attending graduate school. “I think that American history is in some ways the history of how immigrants are able to take root, flourish, and make America what it is. I believe the great American story is made of individual small stories like mine, which I would like to share and pass on to next generations.”

Yuko Takaya was born in Japan and graduated from college in 1978. After a stint in banking, she completed courses in interior design in Tokyo and London and worked as an interior coordinator for ten years in Tokyo. She came to United States in 2003, married in 2004, and then divorced. She came to the Berkshires in 2005 and has held waitressing jobs since then. “I believe writing my story is a good opportunity for me to look back at my life objectively in order to let go of all past traumatic experiences and be free from them.”


A Celebration of Young Women Writers from Monument Mountain Regional High School ~ March 11, 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013
A Celebration of Young Women Writers from Monument Mountain Regional High School
Hosted by Lisken Van Pelt Dus
Guthrie Center, 4 Van Deusenville Road, Great Barrington, 7–8:30 p.m.

At this mixed-genre reading of work by young women writers from Monument Mountain Regional High School, ten writers will each read a short selection of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Participants will be selected by the English faculty, who will also moderate the event.

Lisken Van Pelt Dus is a poet, teacher, and martial artist living in Pittsfield, MA. She teaches writing and languages at Monument Mountain Regional High School. Her poetry can be found in Conduit, The South Carolina Review, qarrtsiluni, upstreet, and other journals, and in her chapbook, Everywhere at Once (Pudding House Press, 2009).


New Date: Speak Out and Speak Up! A Spoken Word Poetry Workshop for Young Women ~ March 27, 2013

This workshop has been rescheduled for Wednesday, March 27 at 7 p.m.

Speak Out and Speak Up! A Spoken Word Poetry Workshop for Young Women
Hosted by Kirsten Peterson and Alexis Marie Wint
Railroad Street Youth Project, 60 Bridge Street, Great Barrington, 7 p.m.

This workshop will give young women of the Berkshires a chance to learn about writing and performing poetry. Often young women feel that their voices cannot be heard, but through this workshop we will be working to find, develop and to expand that creative voice. Designed for the teenage crowd, the workshop will be followed by a reading. No previous experience required.

Kirsten Peterson is a Simon’s Rock senior and proud Marylander. She has been writing poetry and short stories since fourth grade and recently began experimenting with personal essays. This year she is writing her thesis on anthropological practices in U.S. foreign relations and participating in an internship at the Railroad Street Youth Project.

Alexis Marie Wint is a twenty-year-old Brooklyn native with a passion for social justice and change. She is an actress, poet, writer, spoken word artist, and community activist. She is currently working on her senior thesis: a collection of short stories and poems that celebrate the beauty and articulate the struggles of African-American woman. Alexis Marie aspires to be an English professor and to share her gift of word with the world.  Black Girl Abroad project


Writing for Tweens ~ March 16, 2013

Saturday, March 16
Writing for Tweens
Reading and discussion led by Lisa Greenwald
Stockbridge Library, 11 a.m.

Lisa Greenwald will read an excerpt from her newest novel for tweens, My Summer of Pink and Green. She will discuss her path to publication, the writing process, and why she chose to write for tweens. A Q&A and book signing will follow. If time permits, there will be a brief writing workshop.

Lisa Greenwald is the author of four books for tweens. She works in the library at the Birch Wathen Lenox School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Lisa is also a recent graduate of the New School’s MFA program in writing for children. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and young daughter.


Orion Magazine presents: An Orion Reading at the Intersection of Nature and Culture ~ March 17, 2013

Sunday, March 17
Orion Magazine
An Orion Reading at the Intersection of Nature and Culture
Hosted by Hannah Fries, with Andrea Cohen, Melissa Holbrook Pierson, and Ginger Strand
Kellogg Music Center, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 3–5 p.m.

Join us for this multigenre reading with Orion magazine essayists Ginger Strand and Melissa Holbrook Pierson and poet Andrea Cohen. Orion is a locally based magazine with an international readership, focusing on the connections between nature and culture, people and place.

Hannah Fries is associate editor and poetry editor of Orion magazine. A graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, her own work has appeared in the Massachusetts Review, Calyx, upstreet, and other journals.


Andrea Cohen is the author of the poetry collections Kentucky Derby, Long Division, and The Cartographer’s Vacation. Her work has appeared in Poetry, the Atlantic Monthly, the Threepenny Review, the Hudson Review, and elsewhere. She directs the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, MA.

Melissa Holbrook Pierson is the author of four works of nonfiction: The Perfect Vehicle, Dark Horses and Black Beauties, The Place You Love Is Gone, and The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing. She has written for magazines as varied as the Nation, Salon, and Orion.   [Photo by Jenna Knudsen Brantmeyer]


Ginger Strand is the author of three books, most recently Killer on the Road, a history of our interstate highways and the killers who have haunted them. She writes for a wide range of magazines, including Orion, where she is a contributing editor.    [Photo by Orianna Riley]


The Development of the Self ~ March 18, 2013

Monday, March 18
The Development of the Self
Bard College at Simon’s Rock Student Reading and Discussion hosted by Brighde Moffat and Kirsten Peterson, with Georgia Cate Byler, Eleanor Cardell, Karishma Singh Jani, Jaeme Poncin, Grace Rossman, and Alexis Marie Wint
Blodgett House, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 7–9 p.m.

This panel is comprised of eight Simon’s Rock students. The development of the younger female self in relation to forces such as culture, religion, family, and geography will be explored through the personal essay and other creative formats.

Brighde Moffat is a proud feminist and, as such, is invested in deconstructing dualisms. Living in so many places has deeply affected her perception of place, space, and time, which has developed into an ever-growing passion for geography. This past summer, Brighde worked in the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps to ensure the protection of woodlands, and will be a corps member again this summer.

Kirsten Peterson is a Simon’s Rock senior and proud Marylander. She has been writing poetry and short stories since fourth grade and recently began experimenting with personal essays. This year she is writing her thesis on anthropological practices in U.S. foreign relations while participating in an internship at the Railroad Street Youth Project in Great Barrington.

Georgia Cate Byler is a native of Virginia and a Simon’s Rock senior with a double concentration in creative writing and literary studies. Her fiction focuses on child narrative, the creation of identity, and secrets within domestic life.

Eleanor Cardell was born in Chicago and has lived in the suburbs of Los Angeles for most of her life. She has been writing since she was little and reading since she was littler. She enjoys sleeping and hanging out with friends and hopes to graduate from college sometime in the near future, perhaps even with a degree she can use.

Karishma Singh Jani is a Sikh Punjabi Indian who was born in Queens, NY, but has lived most of her life on the eastern coast of Virginia. She is currently a sophomore at Simon’s Rock who is passionate about music, writing, and her heritage. Ultimately, she aspires to become a doctor.

Jaeme Poncin is a first-year student at Simon’s Rock. She was born in Sacramento, CA. She attended the Sacramento Waldorf School, where her love for creative writing and art were born. She plans to study cultural anthropology and creative writing, hoping to travel and live outside of the United States.

Grace Rossman is a sophomore at Simon’s Rock. Born and raised in Great Barrington, MA, Grace has been surrounded—and deeply affected—by the beauty of the regal Berkshire Hills. At Simon’s Rock, her long-standing love for and devotion to the natural world evolved into a passion for the field of environmental studies.

Alexis Marie Wint is a twenty-year-old Brooklyn native with a passion for social justice and change. She is an actress, poet, writer, spoken word artist, and community activist. She is currently working on her senior thesis, a collection of short stories and poems which celebrate the beauty and articulate the struggles of African-American woman. Alexis Marie aspires to be an English professor and ultimately share her gift of word with the world.


IWOW-WOW (In Words out of Words in Women’s Own Words) ~ March 19, 2013

Tuesday, March 19
The Deb Koffman Gallery presents:
IWOW-WOW (In Words out of Words in Women’s Own Words)
An open mic event for storytellers, poets, musicians, and performers
Deb Koffman Gallery, 137 Front Street, Housatonic, 7–9 p.m.
Suggested donation: $1-$6 for performers and audience

Women writers, poets, storytellers, songwriters, and performers share their art with one another and a supportive audience. Men are also welcome to read/perform women’s writings. Each participant is allotted three minutes (600 or fewer words). Performers can sign up by emailing Deb Koffman at; audience reservations are suggested, as space is limited. Snacks to share are welcome.


Illumination: Memoir Writing as a Path to Peace, with Laura Didyk ~ March 20, 2013

Wednesday, March 20
The Women’s Interfaith Institute of the Berkshires presents
Illumination: Memoir Writing as a Path to Peace, with Laura Didyk
Stockbridge Congregational Church, 6–8:30 p.m.
Suggested donation for nonmembers: $5–$10.

Writing about your own life means more than merely reporting on your past. When you bring the perspective of who you are today to bear on stories from your life, not only will the stories shine with new and surprising significance but you, the writer, will be transformed in the process. Approached in the spirit of discovery, memoir writing becomes a vehicle for illumination, insight, and wisdom that can bring the writer a sense of peace while inspiring and changing her readers. Writer and teacher Laura Didyk will lead memoir-writing exercises and give a short reading from her memoir in progress. Following the usual format of Women’s Interfaith events, the potluck dinner starts at 6 p.m., and the program will begin at 7 p.m. Please bring a dish to share.

Laura Didyk, MFA
, published writer and former editor in chief of a national literary magazine, has earned a local reputation as an inspiring and inventive teacher. Her work has been published in the Comstock Review, Diagram, Post Road, Fence, the Sun, and New Orleans Review, among others. She has been awarded residencies at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and her work has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes.


Virtual Artists’ Collective Reading and Discussion ~ March 22, 2013

Friday, March 22
Virtual Artists’ Collective Reading and Discussion
With Rosebud Ben-Oni and Arisa White
MCLA Gallery 51, 51 Main Street, North Adams, 6–8 p.m.

Writers Arisa White and Rosebud Ben-Oni offer a cross-cultural perspective on growing up in fragmented, hostile, and uncompromising environments, including coming to terms with loving women in central Brooklyn and Arab East Jerusalem. While their poetry exposes the gritty realities of women whose spaces demand constant adaptation, the poets seek to create more solid ground in HER KIND (, the official blog of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, a forum to create lively conversation about issues that are often dismissed or overlooked by the mainstream media. Arisa and Rosebud will present a joint reading and discuss their work for HER KIND. They will explain how writing can serve as an agent for positive social change by encouraging women to define their own terms regarding the valuing of women’s voices.

Rosebud Ben-Oni was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan, where she earned an MFA in poetry. She was a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she completed postgraduate research. A playwright at New Perspectives Theater, she is working on a new play that will feature music by Carlton Zeus. Her work appears in Arts & Letters, B O D Y, Borderlands, Texas Poetry Review, and Puerto del Sol. Her short story “A Way out of the Colonia” won the Editor’s Prize in Camera Obscura. She writes the series “On 7 Train Love” for the blog of Sundog Lit. Nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, her debut book of poems SOLECISM will be published by Virtual Artists Collective in early 2013.

Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow and an MFA graduate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Her debut collection, Hurrah’s Nest, was published by Virtual Artists Collective and is the 2012 winner of the San Francisco Book Festival Award for poetry. Her second collection, A Penny Saved, was published by Willow Books in November 2012. Selected by the San Francisco Bay Guardian for the 2010 Hot Pink List as a queer poet to watch out for, Arisa is also part of the PlayGround writers’ pool at Berkeley Repertory Theatre; her play Frigidare was staged for the 15th Annual Best of PlayGround Festival.


The Trojan Women ~ March 22, 2013

Friday, March 22
The Trojan Women
Adapted and Directed by Leigh Strimbeck, with students from Russell Sage College
Studio Theater, Daniel Arts Center, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 7 p.m.

Performed by Russell Sage College students, produced by The Theatre Institute at Sage, this performance is a feminist retelling of Euripides’ great anti-war play.  The adaptation is set in the future in Troy, New York in the midst of an energy crisis, in a United States collapsed by 10 years of civil war.  The story takes place in a women’s refugee camp on the banks of the Hudson River.  This version dares to reinvent the response of the women to further enslavement.

Leigh Strimbeck 
 is an actor, director, writer and acting teacher. She holds a BFA in dance/drama from New York University and has been taught acting at the Actors and Directors Lab in New York City and the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (BTE) in Bloomsburg, PA. There she acted in dozens of plays, served as ensemble director for three years, and traveled with BTE during a USIA tour of Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia. She is currently an assistant professor at Russell Sage College in Troy, NY. She is also the cofounder of WAM Theatre (Women’s Action Movement Theatre, with Kristen van Ginhoven, artistic director.



Women Writers on Masculinity: A Reading ~ March 23, 2013

Saturday, March 23
Women Writers on Masculinity: A Reading
Hosted by Nina Ryan and Michelle Gillett, with special guest Katherine Bouton
Gala reception to follow, with special thanks to Rubiner’s Cheesemongers and Grocers
The Mount, Lenox, 3–5 p.m.

This reading of the winning three essays from this year’s essay contest focuses on the question of masculinity. Women and girls were asked to take on the subject of masculinity in a personal essay, exploring the experiences of culture, body, biology, roles, behavior, language, work, and spirit that have defined or interrogated their ideas of masculinity. Check the Festival website for announcement of the three winning essays.

Michelle Gillett has won poetry fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and published work in numerous literary magazines. Her publications include a chapbook, Rock and Spindle (Mad River Press) as well as Blinding the Goldfinches, published in 2005, winner of the Backwaters Press Poetry Prize and The Green Cottage, winner of the Ledge 2010 Poetry Chapbook competition. She received an MFA from Warren Wilson College. She is a regular op-ed columnist for the Berkshire Eagle and a teacher of writing workshops.

Nina Ryan is an independent editor and former literary agent who has worked in book publishing for twenty years. As an agent with the Cowles-Ryan Agency and the Palmer & Dodge Agency (now Kneerim & Williams), and as an editor at Random House, she worked closely with a number of writers to develop book proposals and manuscripts for books published by Alfred A. Knopf, Henry Holt & Co., Doubleday, Macmillan, Walker Books, and other major publishers. She received an MA from the Columbia School of Journalism and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.

KatherineBouton © Joyce Ravid

This year’s essay contest judge is Katherine Bouton, senior editor at the New York Times for twenty-two years and author of the new book Shouting Won’t Help: Why I—and Fifty Other Million Americans—Can’t Hear You. The book is an engaging account of what it’s like to live with an invisible disability along with a robust prescription for our nation’s increasing problem with deafness.


Talk to Her: Interviews with Women Musicians ~ March 23, 2013

Saturday, March 23
Talk to Her: Interviews with Women Musicians
With LaShonda Katrice Barnett
The Bookstore, Lenox, 6–7:30 p.m.

Talk to Her is a reading and discussion of the interviewing process that resulted in the path-breaking books I Got Thunder: Black Women Songwriters on Their Craft and Off the Record: Conversations with African American and Brazilian Women Musicians. These volumes offer critical perspectives on the music‐making processes and careers of renowned twenty-first-century African American and Brazilian women artists, focusing on the musicians’ creative process, inspiration, and experiences within the music industry, as well as on the sound and significance of their musical expressions, including the historical and social contexts in which they were produced.

Photo by Vidura Barrios (

LaShonda Katrice Barnett has conducted interviews with over fifty renowned actresses and musicians. In addition to I Got Thunder and Off the Record, she is the author of the story collection Callaloo. A graduate of the University of Missouri, she received an MA in women’s history from Sarah Lawrence College and the PhD in American studies from the College of William and Mary. She has taught African American history and literature and women’s history and literature at the University of Richmond, Hampton University, Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, and Hunter College. She divides her time between Manhattan and Providence, RI, where she is Visiting Scholar in Africana Studies at Brown University.


Small Stories in Hidden Places ~ March 24, 2013

Sunday, March 24
The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts presents:
Small Stories in Hidden Places, with Pauline Dongala, Vera Kalm and Carla Oleska
Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Avenue, Pittsfield, 1–3 p.m.

This March the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) presents its first Standing on Her Shoulders Award to women leaders over the age of seventy. In interviewing women for this award, WFWM executive director Carla Oleska noticed that women have a tendency to view their personal stories as being comparatively small and, thus, to keep them hidden—depriving younger women of the benefit of their often groundbreaking life experiences. Along with Standing on Her Shoulders Award recipient Vera Kalm, Pauline Dongala and Carla Oleska will share and discuss their own far-from-small stories.

Pauline Dongala worked for many years at the American embassy in her native country, Congo-Brazzaville, before she was forced to emigrate to the United States with her husband due to civil unrest. She earned a BA in gender studies and cultural relations from Bard College at Simon’s Rock in 2011, and is coeditor of the recent anthology African Women Writing Resistance: Contemporary Voices. She is a 2011 graduate of the Leadership Institute for Public and Political Impact, sponsored by the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. She has worked actively on African women’s issues since 1987 and currently serves as vice president of Forum des Femmes pour le Developpement, a Congolese NGO that trains and equips unemployed women, promoting self-sufficiency.

Vera Kalm began her career with the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Europe in Geneva. During the Hungarian Uprising in 1956, she was sent to work with an international refugee agency in Vienna and on the Austro-Hungarian border. Later, in New York City, she was responsible for facilitating the resettlement of a large group of Hungarian refugees in the United States. Recruited by the World Health Organization for its New York office with the United Nations, she retired as the director of that office—the first nonmedical woman to hold that position. Upon retirement, she served as president of the statewide New Jersey Center for Food Action; vice president of the Bergen Museum of Arts and Sciences; and as an Advisory Group member of the Englewood Health Department. In the Berkshires, she served as tutor and board member of the Southern Berkshire Literacy Network; Board member of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts; and as a founding board member and two-term vice president for Programs of Berkshire Women for Women Worldwide, a local organization supporting the work of the United Nations Development Fund for Women. She was a cofounder and served for ten years on the organizing committee of the annual International Women’s Day Conferences held at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. Vera’s love of language (in addition to her mother tongue, Hungarian, and English, she speaks Slovak, German, French, and Russian) led her to undertake literary translations of works into English, including Hungarian Folktales: The Art of Zsuzsanna Palko; Coccioli’s The White Stone; and Tell Me About the United Nations.

Carla Oleska, PhD, has held the position of chief executive officer of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts since 2006. Prior to joining the fund, Carla had a long and varied career in administration and teaching at Elms College, Chicopee, MA. She has over twenty years of professional experience in creatively addressing the needs of women and girls, specializing in the design of programs enhancing academic preparation, higher education access, degree completion, and leadership development. Her work on behalf of women and girls has been recognized both regionally and nationally. Most recently she was selected as one of one hundred women across the United States to participate in Vision 20/20, a national initiative with the goal of achieving leadership parity in all professional and public sectors.


Solo: Writing Our Own Adventures ~ March 30, 2013

Saturday March 30
Solo: Writing Our Own Adventures
Reading and discussion with Dorothy Albertini, Dawn Paul, and Susan Fox Rogers
South Berkshire Friends Meeting House, 280 State Road, Great Barrington, 3–5 p.m.

Solo adventurers and writers Dorothy Albertini, Dawn Paul, and Susan Fox Rogers will talk about their adventures in the wild and the joys and complications of journeying solo, whether on a trail, by bike, or in a kayak. All three will read from recent work—essays and fiction. This panel will inspire and inform those interested in chronicling their outdoor adventures.

Dorothy Albertini received her MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College in 2008. Recent work is in the current issue of Peep/Show. Her work has also appeared in Drunken Boat, Tantalum, the Brooklyn Rail, Going Alone (ed. Susan Fox Rogers), and NANO Fiction, where she was the winner of the first annual NANO fiction contest. The winning piece was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She teaches with Bard’s Institute for Writing and Thinking and the Language and Thinking Program. She writes about bears and people in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Dawn Paul is the author of two novels, The Country of Loneliness and Still River. She has created a text/video with painter Ben Johnson and has worked with choreographer Kelley Donovan on dance/poetry pieces. Dawn has received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, the Ragdale Foundation, and the Spring Creek Project. She teaches writing and is the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Susan Fox Rogers is the author of My Reach: A Hudson River Memoir and the editor of twelve book anthologies, including Solo: On Her Own Adventure and Going Alone: Women’s Adventures in the Wild. She teaches the creative essay at Bard College, where she is also codirector of the Environmental and Urban Studies Program.