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First Ever Berkshire Festival of Women Writers Begins March 1st, 2011

BERKSHIRE COUNTY—In honor of Women’s History month, a group of local writers and creative advocates have joined together to launch the first Berkshire Festival of Women Writers (BFWW) this March.

Featuring more than 50 panels, readings, lectures, workshops and networking events in Berkshire County throughout the month of March, BFWW will highlight the ways that women are writing—and righting—the world with words. A myriad of voices will be celebrated during the festival, including published playwrights, poets and novelists, bloggers, non-native speakers learning to write expressively in English and emerging writers. Panel discussions will be led by publishers, literary agents, social media strategists and other experts in the writing field.

The festival has been organized in conjunction with the Tenth Annual International Women's Day Conference at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, at which an accomplished group of international writers will read from their work and discuss how cross-continental dialogue can empower both the writer and her reader. Throughout the month of March, BFWW will host events at local libraries, bookstores, theaters and schools throughout Berkshire county, all of which will be open to the public.

A sampling of Festival events:

  • March 2 MCLA Gallery 51 hosts accomplished North County writers, Karen Shepard, Trudy Ames and Jill Gilbreth in a reading of their latest work. (North Adams, 5–7 p.m.)
  • March 5 BFWW presents the Tenth Annual International Women's Day Conference at Bard College of Simon’s Rock. Acclaimed ecologist Sandra Steingraber, author of the groundbreaking book Living Downstream, will be the keynote speaker. Alongside other novelists and poets, Congolese author Pauline Dongala will lead a discussion about African women writing resistance and award-winning journalist Christina Asquith will talk about her experience reporting from front lines of Iraq. (Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 1–5:30 p.m.)
  • March 6 The Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF) hosts Sandra Steingraber for a special screening of her documentary Living Downstream, a provocative film about her personal battle against the cancer-causing toxins in our environment. (Triplex Cinema, Great Barrington, 11 a.m.)
  • March 7 New York Times bestselling graphic novelist Alison Bechdel discusses her work and reads selections from her recent graphic memoir, Fun Home. (Bard College at Simon’s Rock, 7 p.m.)
  • March 12 Literary agent Nina Ryan and published poet and writing instructor Michelle Gillett lead a panel discussion on Process and Publishing in the storied home of Edith Wharton. (The Mount, Lenox, 12–6 p.m.)
  • March 14 Leigh Strimbeck directs “I’m Not a Feminist, but…” a performance by young writers struggling with and against the word “feminist” as they work towards gender equality. (New Stage Theater, Pittsfield, 7 p.m.)
  • March 17 New Media Night: Local writer Courtney Maum is joined by social media strategists, Vantage Press president David Lamb, Women’s Times publisher Eugenie Sills and others to discuss the changing state of publishing and the resources available for writers online. (Clark Auditorium in the Fisher Science Scenter at Simon’s Rock, 6–8 p.m.)

Complete event listings are available through the online calendar at www.simons-rock.edu/iwd

About the Festival organizers

This year’s IWD Conference and the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers is organized by local residents Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, Erin Connor, Zoe Dalheim, Hannah Fries, Vera Kalm, Courtney Maum, Judith Nardacci and Claudette Webster. The conference and festival are co-sponsored by Bard College at Simon’s Rock and Berkshire Women for Women Worldwide, with the invaluable support of Orion magazine, The Berkshire International Film Festival, the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, The Women’s Times, The Women’s Interfaith Institute, Quality Printing and other local businesses and individuals.