Hosted by Michelle Gillett and Nina Ryan with Jennifer Sahn, Barbara Zheutlin, Alice Maggio and Amy Dryansky.
Centennial Hall, Miss Hall’s School, 492 Holmes Road, Pittsfield, 2 p.m.
This year’s contest invited women writers to submit nonfiction, fiction and poetry on the subject of “weather”: weather of the heart, weathering the storm, how weather extremes are affecting us personally, politically, culturally, environmentally, keeping in mind the special of the 2014 Festival, “Writing the Self, Righting the World: New Visions of Personal and Planetary Health.”
The prize ceremony will feature a reading by each winner, followed by a panel discussion moderated by contest judge and Orion Magazine editor, Jennifer Sahn. Other panelists are Barbara Zheutlin, Executive Director of Berkshire Grown, Alice Maggio of the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, and poet Amy Dryansky, who works for a regional land trust and is the author of How I Got So Close to Home, and Grass Whistle. With the four winning pieces as a starting point, the discussion will focus on ways to examine, explore, and spark new perspectives on the links between personal and planetary wellness, particularly within our own lives and communities. How can writing inspire change? What stories are being told in our culture and communities on this subject? What stories are not being told?
Amy Dryansky is the author of Grass Whistle (Salmon Poetry) and How I Got Lost So Close To Home (Alice James). Individual poems have appeared in a variety of anthologies and journals, including Orion, The New England Review and Harvard Review. Dryansky has received awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. She is a former Associate at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center at Mt. Holyoke College, where she studied the impact of motherhood on the work of women poets.
Alice Maggio grew up in the Berkshires and is a proud graduate of Mount Everett Regional High School in Sheffield. In 2010 Alice graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and French Studies from Wesleyan University. After college she went on to bake pies in Brooklyn, teach English in the Alps, and cook Basque food in Manhattan before coming home to work at the Schumacher Cener for a New Economics. Her interest in education and a sustainable and just food system make her right at home at the Schumacher Center. Alice is excited to be using her local knowledge to promote the use and expand the scope of BerkShares. She hopes to help people in the Berkshires take more control of their own economy.
Michelle Gillett has been a regular op-ed columnist for The Berkshire Eagle for more than twenty years. An award-winning poet and writing instructor, her work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Orion, Sanctuary, Art of the Times, among others. Her most recent book is The Green Cottage, winner of The Ledge 2011 Poetry Chapbook Competition. Her other published works include A Kitchen Gardener’s Cookbook, In Celebration of Motherhood, a collection of essays, and two collections of poetry, Rock & Spindle, a letterpress chapbook published by Mad River Press, and Blinding the Goldfinches, chosen by Hayden Carruth as winner of the Backwaters Poetry Prize and published in 2005. She received her MFA from Warren Wilson College and a BS from Skidmore College. She has inspired and helped numerous writers make progress toward the completion of their work. gillettandryan.com
Nina Ryan is an independent literary agent and editor who has worked in book publishing for twenty years. From her work with the Cowles-Ryan Agency, The Palmer & Dodge Agency in Boston (now Kneerim & Williams), and as an editor at Random House she brings substantial experience to the process of evaluating, editing, developing, and marketing books and book proposals for mainstream publication. She has 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. gillettandryan.com
Jennifer Sahn has been on Orion magazine’s editorial staff for twenty years. Articles she has edited have won the John Burroughs Essay Award, the Pushcart Prize, and have been reprinted in the Best American Science and Nature Writing, Best American Non-required Reading, Best Spiritual Writing, and Best Creative Nonfiction. Her writing has been published in a variety of print venues and she has served as the editor for several book projects. Jennifer is a board member of BerkShares Inc., a local currency project, and sits on the advisory board of the University Press of Kentucky’s Culture of the Land series. She lives in South Egremont, Massachussetts, with her husband, Nick Thielker, and their son Henry.
Barbara Zheutlin is Executive Director of Berkshire Grown, which supports and promotes local agriculture as a vital part of the Berkshire community, economy and landscape.