Presented by Laundry Line Divine
Hosted by Suzi Banks Baum, featuring readings by Janet Reich Elsbach, Jenny Laird, Leigh Strimbeck, Michelle Gillett, Nichole Dupont and Suzi Banks Baum
Dewey Memorial Hall, 91 Main Street, Sheffield, 7 p.m.
Suggested donation at door $10.

What do mothers make? Our event delves in to this question through writing and art by women of the Berkshires, spelunking into the heart of mothers who promote ideas or make pie, write poems or make peace, paint paintings or write plays. Written work by Janet Reich Elsbach, Jenny Laird, Leigh Strimbeck, Michelle Gillett, Nichole Dupont and Suzi Banks Baum will be counterpointed by video presentations featuring new women writers who have discovered their own stories in Suzi’s Powder Keg Sessions writing workshops. Since March 2012, this Festival event has opened the landscape for presenters and audience alike in a frank discussion of mothering and creativity. Bedtime snacks included!

Suzi Banks Baum, by Christina Lane Photography

Suzi Banks Baum, by Christina Lane Photography

Suzi Banks Baum makes community wherever she goes. Passionate about stirring up jam, authentic writing voices, artist books, and mail art, she created Out of the Mouths of Babes for the March 2012 Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. She edited and published An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice, presents the Powder Keg Sessions writing workshops, and sent her son off to a year of post high school graduate work. You’d think she’d have more time to eat bon-bons, but Suzi is writing strong on her next book, Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers, and developing Rampant Sisterhood, her workshops on marrying authentic voice and online presence for authors and artists. Read all about it at

Nichole DupontNichole Dupont is a freelance writer and editor living in Western Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in Newsday, The Huffington PostBerkshire MagazineThe Advocate Weekly, and Rural Intelligence. She also writes positive stories for change for the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. In March 2013, her essay “Have I Not Commanded You?” was included in An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. She is a regular contributor to the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, and has read several essays and conducted writers’ workshops for women of all walks. A former literature teacher and obsessive observer of people, she has written several short stories which have appeared in lit journals and online, and she maintains a blog, Versus, about the snarkier side of rural, single motherhood and feminist politics. She lives in farm country with her two extraordinary children.

Janet Reich ElsbachJanet Reich Elsbach thinks and writes about the food she feeds her family of five, who live on a small and ludicrous farm with dogs and chickens and sheep (in order of increasing population). She writes a blog, A Raisin & A Porpoise, edits other people’s writing when she can, and teaches writing wherever she’s allowed.

Michelle GillettMichelle 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, and 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 LairdJenny Laird was a long-time Chicago Playwright and Arts Educator before settling in the Berkshires.  In collaboration with her husband, Randy Courts, Jenny is currently writing a series of musicals based on The Magic Tree House books for Music Theatre International’s Broadway Junior Collection.  When not writing plays, she is busy running a play-therapy program for her wondrous son, Quinn.

Leigh_0159WebLeigh Strimbeck is Artist in Residence at Russell Sage College, professor in the theater and WORLD programs; co-founder of WAM Theatre; associate member of The Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble ( Plays directed include: Fools Rush In, Voice of the Prairie, Sea Marks, The Nest, Daytrips, The Baltimore Waltz and Death of a Salesman for BTE; Private Eyes, Children of a Lesser God and The Mystery of Irma Vep for various regional theaters. During her 12-year tenure with BTE, Leigh acted in dozens of plays and served as Ensemble Director for 3 years. (

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