UnknownMark your calendars for June 8 – 13, when we’ll be offering another week of fabulous Writing Workshops for Women, this time at Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount in Lenox.  Festival presenters Suzi Banks BaumJan HutchinsonSonia Pilcer and Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez will be offering lively writing workshops, kicked off by an evening talk on humor writing by everyone’s favorite Berkshire comedienne, Alison Larkin!  

Register online at the links provided, or mail checks to Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, Bard College at Simon’s Rock/BFWW, 84 Alford Road, Great Barrington MA 01230.  Postmark June 1 for early bird discount.


Comedy = Tragedy + Time, A Humorous Talk by Alison Larkin

Sunday, June 8, 2 p.m.

Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door; benefits the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers and The Mount.  Click here to register.  

Alison Larkin, comedienne and bestselling author of the autobiographical novel The English American, will talk about how she’s used humor to turn challenging parts of her life into art – and how you can too!

Alison Larkin

Alison Larkin

Alison Larkin was born in Washington DC, adopted at six weeks old by British parents and raised in England and Africa. After graduating from Royal Holloway College, London University and The Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, she became a playwright and classical actress on the British stage. Then, at 28, she found her birth mother, who was living in Bald Mountain, Tennessee. The experience turned her into a stand-up comic. She was soon headlining at the Comic Strip in New York and the Comedy Store in LA, while maintaining her theatrical career. She appeared Off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theater club and on Broadway in Stanley with the Royal National Theatre. Her internationally acclaimed autobiographical one-woman show, from which her novel The English American springs, previewed at the Manchester Royal Exchange, premiered at the Edinburgh Festival’s Assembly Rooms and headlined in at the Soho Theatre as a highlight of the London Comedy Festival. The show has been seen in concert performances around the world and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charitable organizations. A Vogue ‘most powerful book of the season’ and Redbook magazine’s Book Club Pick of the Month, “The English American, a novel”, the audio book of The English American, narrated by Alison, won an Audiofile Earphones award and is number two on Audible.com’s top ten author-narrated audio books of all time.


Writing Motherhood

Monday and Tuesday, June 9 – 10, 6 – 8 p.m.

Workshop Leader: Suzi Banks Baum

Registration: $150; $140 before June 1; register online here or mail in your check.

Suzi Banks Baum, by Christina Lane Photography.

Suzi Banks Baum, by Christina Lane Photography.

When you think of your experience as a mother—whether you’re in the thick of it now or remembering those jam-packed years, what comes to mind? Do you recall how often you stood at the kitchen sink trying to remember to remember a thought you had while stirring the soup? Women, young and old, tell me that their mothering years were the busiest—and often the loneliest—times of their lives. Behind the non-stop pressures of parenting, it’s common for mothers to barely notice our own experiences, put on the back burner for the sake of moving the family along.

What stories would you tell if you took your mothering experiences off the back burner and examined them in the warm light of a supportive writing workshop for women? By turning attention toward your inner life, toward the heated compression that happens in the heart of every mother, creativity surges up. One audience member at Out of the Mouths of Babes heard “fresh language from authentic sources,” and that is what we’ll be aiming to produce in Writing Motherhood.

Experienced writers interested in focusing on the hot topic of mothering as well as new writers eager to learn important skills to build a regular writing practice are welcome. Please bring a journal and pen, along with an open mind. We will write together and share our work with each other. Homework will be assigned in the first session.

Suzi Banks Baum is a mom. Filtered through the prism of motherhood, her writing life, her artistic life and her social media consulting are fueled by the discovery of her creative voice found in the midst of mothering. Suzi’s website, Laundry Line Divine is a hub for her own writing and features over 50 other women’s voices in the Out of the Mouths of Babes series on mothering and creativity. She has been a guest blogger at Studio Mothers, Mother Writer Mentor, the Museum of Motherhood and the Story of Mum. Her first book, An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice includes writing and art of a community dedicated to expressing a woman’s experience from inside motherhood. During March, Suzi produced the event “Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others” for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers along with sharing new writing for the Motherhood Out Loud production with WAM Theatre and at the Courage Community Collaboration at the Rockwell Museum. She frequently offers writing workshops called The Powder Keg Sessions, which have been called “yoga for writers.”


Poetry: Attention, Imagination, and Transformation

Tuesday and Wednesday, June 10 & 11, 3 – 5 p.m.

Workshop Leader: Jan Hutchinson

Registration: $150; $140 before June 1.  Click here to register online or mail in your check.

Jan Hutchinson

Jan Hutchinson

In this poetry workshop we will use playful group and individual writing exercises to jumpstart creativity, refresh language, and create word bridges into the unknown future. We will use the particulars of our individual perceptions and experiences to create doors through into things more universal.  Meister Eckhart said:  “When the soul wishes to experience something, she throws an image of the experience before her and enters into her own image.”  Let’s not write simply dragging our stories along behind us, but write pulled forward by the images we project into the future.  In this way our writing can transform us.

Jan Hutchinson is a lifelong student of poetry and writing.  She makes poetry a daily practice and has written at least one poem every day for eleven years.  During April of the last three years, she has celebrated National Poetry Month by sending out daily poetry prompts to people who expressed interest.  This year there were 260 people receiving her prompts, which now go to poets in ten states, D.C., and several European countries.  Jan has published two poetry collections: Poems of Prayer and Heresy and Raggedy Prayers and Crooked Ladders, both with whimsical drawings by Chet Kalm.


Walking the Elemental Path of Purposeful Memoir

Wednesday and Thursday, June 11 & 12, 6 – 8 p.m.

Workshop Leader: Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

Registration: $150; $140 before June 1.  Click here to register online or mail in your check.

Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

This workshop is for women who want to use writing to explore their life story in a purposeful way—to move towards greater clarity not only about their own lives, but about the world we live in and our own life purpose on Earth at this time. Women at any stage of their life journey are invited to spend a pair of summer evenings thinking in writing about where we have come from and where we are now, individually and as a society, and how can we use the past and present as a springboard into the future we want to joyously co-create. The workshop will offer writing prompts based on the four elements—earth, water, fire, and air—as a way both to structure our own life experiences and to deepen our awareness of our connection to the planet that sustains us. Bring your preferred writing implements and a zest for writing!

 Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez earned her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from New York University with a focus on women’s personal narratives, and has been teaching literature, writing and media studies at Bard College at Simon’s Rock since 1994. She is the editor of two anthologies of women’s writing, Women Writing Resistance in Latin America and the Caribbean (South End Press, 2004) and African Women Writing Resistance (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011), and has published many scholarly articles on the nexus of the personal and the political in women’s writing, as well as delivered many conference papers and talks at colleges and universities around the country. Jennifer is the founding director of the annual month-long, multi-venue Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, an organization dedicated to opening up more spaces for women’s perspectives and stories to be heard in the public sphere in celebration of Women’s History Month. Her own “purposeful memoir” of the reawakening of her environmental consciousness will be published in 2015. She blogs on the interrelationships between the personal and the planetary at Transition Times.


Women Writers of a Certain Age: The Work-out

Thursday and Friday, June 12 & 13, 3 – 5 p.m.

Workshop Leader: Sonia Pilcer

Registration: $150; $140 before June 1.  Click here to register online or mail in your check.

Sonia Pilcer

Sonia Pilcer

We have our hard-earned wisdom, the stories we want to tell.  This two-day intensive workshop helps writers get going on the projects they’ve promised themselves to begin.  Or if you’re stalled, we’ll help you pick up your writing again with gusto.  In-class writing exercises will lead to constructive, supportive critiques and then participants will be urged on to the next challenge.  We focus on writing craft and techniques, such as dialogue, character development and narrative structure; probe emotional issues and discipline problems; and explore possible genres and voices.  Please bring writing implements and a new notebook.

Sonia Pilcer is the author of five published novels: Teen Angel, Maiden Rites, Little Darlings, I-Land: Manhattan in Monologue and The Holocaust Kid.A new book, The Last Hotel: A Novel in Suites,will be published in October.  She teaches writing at the Writer’s Voice in New York City and at Berkshire Community College.


Friday, June 13, 5-6 p.m. 

Celebratory Reception, just for Workshop Participants

6-7 p.m. Celebratory Reading, free and open to the Public


We want to hear from you!

Tell us about your experiences at this year’s Festival!  Whether you’re a presenter, a participant or an audience member, please fill out our online feedback form (link available on the Festival homepage) and let us know what we’re doing right and how we can make our Festival even better next year. You can also add your impressions of the Festival to our growing list of testimonials.
And please consider becoming a Festival sponsor or joining our Friends of the Festival this year.  Pledge cards, sponsorship brochures and donation baskets will be available at most Festival events for your convenience, or you can also make a secure, tax-deductible online donation on our website anytime.

Thank you for helping us nourish the community of women writers in the Berkshires!

Cast of Festival performance of ENUF!, who wrote and performed their own stories under the direction of Yvette Jamuna Sirker and Nakeida Bethel-Smith of R.O.P.E World

Cast of Festival performance of ENUF!, who wrote and performed their own stories under the direction of Yvette Jamuna Sirker and Nakeida Bethel-Smith of R.O.P.E World