The Berkshires Blog

Women’s Creativity on Tap at the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers

When people think about the Berkshires in March, it’s often maple syrup that comes to mind, as the sap starts flowing in our beautiful maple forests.  But there are other kinds of creative juices rising in the Berkshire hills in March—the creativity of more than 150 talented women and girls will be flowing at the Fourth Annual Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, a county-wide, multi-venue celebration of women’s creative expression.

The Festival features more than 58 events, at least one on every day of the month of March, Women’s History Month, and more on weekends.  Thirty-six venues will be hosting Festival events, including Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, The Mount, Shakespeare & Company, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and MCLA Gallery 51, Miss Hall’s School, the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, the Whitney Center for the Arts, the Guthrie Center, the public libraries of Sheffield, Great Barrington and Lenox, and many more. 

This year Gloria Steinem will be making a special Festival appearance on March 4 at MCLA, courtesy of the MCLA Public Policy Lecture sponsored by the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust.  Steinem’s lecture, free and open to the public, is entitled “The Progression of Feminism: Where are we going?”

Another Festival headliner is Peggy Seeger, sister of Pete and an outstanding folksinger in her own right, who will be giving a “lecture in song” about women in traditional and contemporary folk songs, at the Guthrie Center on March 18.

This year the Festival features sixteen sessions dedicated to the year’s special focus, “Writing to “Writing the Self, Righting the World: New Visions of Personal and Planetary Health and Healing.”

The special focus provided the inspiration for the annual Festival Writing Contest, open to all women from the Berkshire region. Curated by Michelle Gillett and Nina Ryan and judged this year by Orion magazine editor Jennifer Sahn, the writing contest asked contributors to explore the links between personal and planetary health through the metaphor of the weather.  val event is the celebration of International Women’s Day.  This year the event will be held on March 9, and will feature three generations of a remarkably creative Argentinian Jewish family, Raquel Partnoy, Alicia Partnoy and Ruth Sanabria.  The three will share their poetry, prose and visual art, and discuss the ways that their creative expression helped them to surmount the traumatic experiences they went through during the civil unrest in Argentina in the 1970s.

Returning Festival favorites include “Women of a Certain Age,” hosted by author Sonia Pilcer and featuring writers Jan Krause Greene, Maureen Howard, Cecile Kraus, Marilyn Oser, at The Mount on Sunday, March 16.  Irrepressible octogenarian Sally-Jane Heit will also be performing at The Mount on Sunday, March 31, offering some scenes from her one-woman show, “Before I Forget” as a way of inspiring attendees to do some autobiographical writing of their own.

Teen writers will be given special opportunities to shine as well, with events at the Guthrie Center (March 5), at Shakespeare & Company (March 12), at Miss Hall’s School (March 25) and more.  Mothers who write also get a chance to shine at the Festival.  On March 1, “Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others” will provide for a gala opening night at Dewey Hall. At the other end of the month, Jayne Atkinson-Gill and Susan R. Rose will be co-producing the Berkshire premiere of the show “Motherhood Out Loud,” with three performances at The Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge on March 28 and 29. 

March in the Berkshires will be an extravaganza of women’s creativity, thanks to the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers!