Laundry Line Divine presents:

‘Out of the Mouths of Babes: an evening of mothers reading to others’

Hosted by Suzi Banks Baum and Matthew Tannenbaum, with readings by Suzi Banks Baum, Alana Chernila, Michelle Gillett, Janet Reich Elsbach, Gina Hyams, and Jenny Laird.  Bedtime snacks will be served, and pajamas are welcome.  For more information, please visit or call Suzi Banks Baum at (413) 429-1799.

Blodgett House, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 7-9:30 p.m.
 Fee: $5, free to the Simon’s Rock community

Suzi Banks Baum was deep in the wilds of raising two healthy teenagers when she realized she was engaged in a major act of creativity.  In talking with other mothers, however, she realized how few of them shared her view. Most dismissed their smaller, everyday creative acts as inconsequential, whether they were planning meals or quilting.

In her March 2nd event, “Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others,” she brings together several writers who, in the process of raising children, found richness, solace, and even an artistic identity in the details.

Readers will include:

  • Poet, author, and op-ed columnist Michelle Gillett, whose accomplishments include awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, several collections of poetry, essays, and recipes, and two grown daughters
  • Award-winning playwright Jenny Laird, who finds inspiration on the axis of child-rearing, epilepsy, developmental and learning disabilities, literature, and Buddhism
  • Alana Chernila, a Great Barrington selectman, mother of two young daughters, and author of The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, which is due in the spring
  • Author and editor Gina Hyams,  co-editor of the anthology Searching for Mary Poppins: Women Write About the Relationship Between Mothers and Nannies, and specialist in “mysterious and confounding subjects” such as pie, nannies, incense, folk art, death, and room service
  • Janet Reich Elsbach, a sheep farmer and mother of three who writes about Tolstoy, pickles, gardening, and “assessing the real chances that we the people will come to our senses in time to save the bees, the oceans and the last vestiges of true democracy”
  • Blogger and event coordinator Suzi Banks Baum, who writes at about seeing and celebrating the sacred in everyday life, and whose forthcoming book recounts the “wild adventure” of raising herself as she raised her children.

Banks Baum and Matthew Tannenbaum, of The Bookstore in Lenox, MA, will facilitate a discussion following the readings.

To celebrate the event, Banks Baum is also hosting three months of posts around the topic of mothers and creativity at her blog, “No mother is lacking in creativity,” says Banks Baum. “Whether she stays at home with her children, or works outside of the home while someone else looks after her kids, she is using major creative muscles to make it all work. My desire is to provide women with a vehicle to discuss the importance of creativity in their daily lives; to witness the beauty of words written by other mothers; and to emerge from this event inspired to celebrate and engage with their own creativity.”


More Information at



Janet Reich Elsbach
I am mother to three fine children.  My chief interests in life include, but are not limited to: what we will have for dinner tonight; what we will have for dinner tomorrow; whether my children are rested, fed, encouraged and aware; getting out of the grocery store with as much dignity and as little plastic packaging material as possible; assessing the real chances that we the people will come to our senses in time to save the bees, the oceans and the last vestiges of true democracy; and the very powerful and inspiring ways all of these things connect. With my husband, the artist Bart Elsbach, I am managed by a small sheep farm, and I write about all of this when I can stay awake long enough to string four coherent words together. What I am trying to say can be found at

Gina Hyams is an author and editor who specializes in mysterious and confounding subjects, such as pie, nannies, incense, folk art, facials, death, and room service. She is the creator of the Andrews McMeel Publishing “In a Box” series of food contest book-kits, which includes Pie Contest in a Box, Chili Cook-Off in a Box, and Christmas Cookie Contest in a Box. Her other books include the bestselling travel-design titles, In a Mexican Garden and Mexicasa, as well as Pacific Spas, Day of the Dead Box, and Incense – all published by Chronicle Books. She is also co-editor of the anthology, Searching for Mary Poppins: Women Write About the Relationship Between Mothers and Nannies published by Hudson Street Press and Plume, divisions of Penguin U.S.A. For more information, see

Alana Chernila writes, cooks, sells fresh vegetables, and teaches kids’ cooking. She created the blog in 2008. Alana is a graduate of St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM and lives with her husband and two young daughters in Great Barrington, where she is a selectman.  Clarkson Potter will publish Alana’s first book, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making in Spring 2012.



Suzi Banks Baum’s favorite roles in her 53-year career as a woman have been mother and rat.  She took up the former 17 years ago, upon the birth of her son, and the latter in 1965 at Potawatomie Park in Chicago, in the after school theatre program.  Suzi actively blogs at where she writes about seeing and celebrating the sacred in everyday life. Her upcoming book, “Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers” recounts the wild tale of her adventures raising herself while raising her children. She is an artist, gardener and good friend. Suzi lives with her husband and 2 teenagers in Great Barrington, MA.


Michelle Gillett is the author of three books of poetry: Rock &Spindle (Mad River Press, 1998), Blinding the Goldfinches, selected by Hayden Carruth as winner of the Backwaters Poetry Prize and published in 2005, and The Green Cottage, winner of The Ledge 2010 Poetry Chapbook Competition. She has won poetry awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and published work in literary magazines and poetry journals. She received an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College. A collection of her essays, Celebrating Motherhood, was published by Storey Press in 2002. Her cookbook, a collection of recipes and essays, The Kitchen Gardener’s Cookbook was published by Country Roads Press.

A regular op ed columnist for The Berkshire Eagle, she also teaches writing workshops and is co-partner of g & r, an editing, writing and book development company.  She and her husband have two grown daughters and live in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Jenny Laird was a long-time Chicago Playwright and Arts Advocate before settling in the Berkshires.  She is the author of several award-winning plays and is currently creating a series of musicals based on The Magic Tree House books for Music Theatre International’s Broadway Junior Collection.  When she is not writing, she is busy running an intensive home-based play therapy program for her wondrous son, Quinn.  Now and then, Jenny blogs about her adventures with autism and epilepsy at:




Matt Tannenbaum

Matt Tannenbaum

Matt Tannenbaum has owned The Bookstore in Lenox for 36 years. He began his career in the book trade in New York City in 1971 where his passion for literature was first ignited.. His memoir, “My Years at the Gotham Book Mart with Frances Steloff, Proprietor: Recollections about the Pantheon of Writers and Artists Who Passed Through Her Store, and How I Became A Bookman” was published three years ago by a small country publisher. He is currently working on an expanded version of that book. In 1993, after eleven years of marriage, his wife, Sheila, died of breast cancer, leaving their two children, Shawnee and Sophie, ages seven and three. He became a “mom” the day his wife died. Or shortly before. Or shortly afterward. It’s not quite the same as when the baby’s head begins to crown and the beleagured spouse stands by excitedly crying out “you’re doing great, honey, just breathe”! Matt remembers doing exactly that and remembers also, exactly, the look on his wife’s face and what she said back to him. He never felt farther away from motherhood than at that moment! The next twenty years or so brought him a lot closer. He lives in Housatonic with one cat, which he inherited when his daughters moved away. Last year on his birthday they gave him a coffee mug with the legend: CRAZY CAT LADY.