Calling all Berkshire women writers: please get out your pens or fire up your laptops and enter the Second Annual Berkshire Festival of Women Writers Essay Contest, sponsored by Michelle Gillett and Nina Ryan and judged by Berkshire resident Katherine Bouton, retired senior editor of The New York Times.

Last year, the Festival Essay Contest received more than 50 essays, out of which three winners received prizes and were invited to read their work to an admiring audience at The Mount.  We look forward to receiving a wealth of essays on this year’s provocative topic: Masculinity. 






mas·cu·lin·i·ty n

1.                  the quality of looking and behaving in ways conventionally thought to be appropriate for a man or boy

2.                  men as a group (dated)

3.                  a manner or feature commonly attributed to men

4.                  the qualities, actions, or types of behavior in a woman or girl that are conventionally associated with men or boys

Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Last year, you were asked for submissions on the subject of femininity. This year, we thought we would ask you to consider the other side of the coin.

What is masculinity?  What experiences of culture, body, biology, roles, behavior, language, work, spirit have defined or made you question ideas of masculinity?

We invite women and girls of all ages and experiences to take on the subject of masculinity in a personal essay.  Be playful, inventive, unconventional or straightforward, but whatever approach you take, base your essay on personal experience.

In his introduction to The Art of the Personal Essay, Philip Lopate writes:  “The hallmark of the personal essay is its intimacy.   The writer seems to be speaking directly into your ear, confiding everything from gossip to wisdom.  Through sharing thoughts, memories, desires, complaints, and whimsies, the personal essayist sets up a relationship with the reader, a dialogue—a friendship, if you will, based on identification, understanding, testiness, and companionship.”

New! Extended Deadline:  Monday, January 28, 2013 (essay must have Jan. 28th postmark)

Judge: Katherine Bouton, retired senior editor at The New York Times and author of the recently published book Shouting Wont Help, a personal, psychological and physiological examination of widespread and misunderstood phenomenon of deafness.

Award ceremony: March 23, venue TBA.

Length & format750-1000 words; pages numbered; include cover page with name, email, phone, mailing address, and the title of the essay.

Submit your essay by mail to:

c/o Nina Ryan & Michelle Gillett

P.O. Box 1134

Stockbridge, MA  01262

For further information check or email


Advertise with the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers!  

Attracting an estimated 5,000 attendees for a month’s-worth of readings, lectures,  performances, films and discussions, writing workshops and networking events, the Festival is quickly becoming one of the region’s most-anticipated events.

In advance of the Festival, we will be producing both a printed Program and website. We invite you use these vehicles reach participants with your marketing message.

Produced in full-color, the Program is the go-to resource for the entire festival. Programs will be available at the 40+ venues, including The Mount, Kripalu, The Norman Rockwell Museum, etc. and other locations throughout the County beginning mid-February through March.

Companion web ads will appear on the Festival’s website beginning in January and will be maintained all the way through until September 15.

During the Festival month alone, the website receives more than 10,000 hits!

With just one buy you’ll get over nine months of exposure on two different platforms at a very affordable price.

Email us for information on costs, sizes, and specifications:

We hope you will considering sponsoring the Festival and help to keep the art of the written word alive and strong in the Berkshires.

Support Your Festival!

Donations in any amount are always welcome and much appreciated!

It takes time, talent and dedication to make a big month-long Festival like this happen, and it also takes funds.

Please consider adding the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers to your donation list this year.

Checks can be made out to Bard College at Simon’s Rock/BFWW and sent to: Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, c/o Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 84 Alford Road, Great Barrington MA 01230.