What a day it was at the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers!  JoAnne Spies started it off with her collective performance “Trust,” at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.  JoAnne reports:

“Each artist’s piece was a gem. We heard Barbara and Graham Dean’s songs about Mumbet and Walkin to Freedom as we walked through the Four Freedoms rotunda, Ben Friedman’s ‘Seeking At-one-ment’ by the ‘Golden Rule,’ Nathan Smith’s sonnet about shaking hands by the ‘Golden Rule’ and ‘The Marriage Counselor, ‘Pastor at Church on the Hill Natalie Shiras and Chief of Police Rick Wilcox speaking about trusting oneself and authority by ‘The Runaway.’

“On to the next gallery, led by the eagle flute played by Windrose Morris we heard different artists throughout the room. Teresa Thomas danced to my song ‘Beloved Friend.’ Wendy Rabinowitz, (Satyena Ananda read by Wendy) and Ani Grosser read prayers and poems. Jan Hutchinson read her poem by the 3 Boys Fishin’. Eric Reinhardt sang his ‘Jemma’s Waltz’ by the ‘Fortuneteller.’  Mari Andejco read a poem, Pooja Rue danced to the tunes of Windrose Morris, Dylan Keating and Vikki True.”

The piece ended on a high note, with JoAnne leading the group in singing her song “The Survivor Tree.”

Later in the day, up at MCLA Gallery 51 in North Adams, Rosebud Ben-Oni and Arisa White read poetry and talked about their lives growing up in gritty, uncompromising environments in central Brooklyn and Arab East Jerusalem.

Festival rep Judy Nardacci was there, and reports:

“Rosebud Ben-Oni and Arisa White shared their writing with a small but welcoming and enthusiastic audience at Gallery 51: Rosebud, reading poems that helped her channel and express feelings of frustration and anger; and Arisa, about a difficult but resilient childhood. Both welcomed audience questions and encouraged us – especially several students in a writing program at MCLA – to send work to their HER KIND blog, the official site for their forum VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.The readings helped us see both the challenges and the deep satisfaction of the writing process, and specifically, the advantages of a supportive outlet and connections with other women writers in a new social-network format. They clearly enjoyed reading together as friends and colleagues, and provided a most memorable afternoon.”

And in the evening, Leigh Strimbeck and her students from Russell Sage College, took to the stage at Bard College at Simon’s Rock with a stunning performance of Leigh’s adaption of “The Trojan Women,” set in a post-apocalyptic landscape along the banks of the Hudson River in Troy, NY.  The audience was spellbound and wrapped up in the tremendous power, passion and outpouring of cathartic grief of the women of Troy in the face of the losses they faced as a result of war.