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Berkshire Festival of Women Writers to Begin in March

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 15, 2012

Contact: Alice Myers
Bard College at Simon’s Rock
alicem@simons-rock.edu
413 528-7443

Contact: Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez
Festival Organizer
Browdy@simons-rock.edu
413 528-7224

GREAT BARRINGTON, MA— More than forty events showcasing the talents of women writers will be held throughout Berkshire County in the month of March as part of the second annual Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, sponsored by Bard College at Simon's Rock.

With at least one event taking place every day in March, there's plenty to delight audiences up and down the county. Readings, writing workshops, open mikes and panel discussions will be offered at many local libraries and bookstores, along with sessions on publishing, photo essays, and digital media for writers. Most events are free.

Twelve events will be hosted on the campus of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, including a special screening and panel discussion of the thought-provoking new documentary film “Miss Representation” on March 14, with a follow-up discussion by the Berkshire Women’s Salon on March 15.

Festival organizer Dr. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, faculty in Comparative Literature and Media Studies at Simon's Rock, timed the month long event to coincide with Women's History Month. After a decade of bringing the annual International Women's Day (IWD) conferences to Simon’s Rock, Browdy de Hernandez branched out to organize the countywide Festival. This year, IWD returns to the Berkshires on March 18 as a daylong film festival with screenings of the documentaries SARABAH and GRANITO, co-sponsored by the Berkshire International Film Festival and the Berkshire Human Rights Speaker Series.

Browdy de Hernandez emphasizes that the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers aims to engage all local residents and inspire women writers of all ages. “This isn’t just about getting big names,” she says, although there will be some prominent authors in the Festival. Food critic Ruth Reichl and novelist Francine Prose are among the more celebrated participants; both will be featured in a special event co-sponsored by Gastronomica and Orion magazines at the Williams College Museum of Art on March 16.

This year’s dedicated local organizing committee includes Erin Connor, Hannah Fries, Alice Myers, Anna Myers, Judith Nardacci and Claudette Webster. For complete listings and information, visit the Festival website: www.berkshirewomenwriters.org.

Festival collaborators include the Berkshire Theater Group, which will host a special preview at the Unicorn Theater of next season’s Made in the Berkshires Festival, curated by Hillary Somers Deely and Barbara Sims; the New Stage Theater, offering a new play by Iranian American playwright Yasmine Beverly Rana; the Olga Dunn Dance Company, with a new dance featuring Julie Webster; the Norman Rockwell Museum, with a performance by singer-songwriter JoAnne Spies; and Tupelo Press of North Adams, which will host a discussion on “the nuts and bolts of book production.”

The Mount, home of one of Berkshire County’s most famous women writers, Edith Wharton, will host the Gala Festival Finale on March 31, featuring the winners of the 2012 Personal Essay Contest sponsored by local editor-agent duo Michelle Gillett and Nina Ryan, hosted by author and comedienne Alison Larkin.

Major funding for the Festival was provided by the John A. Sellon Charitable Trust; the Local Cultural Councils of the towns of Alford-Egremont, Dalton, Great Barrington, Monterey, Mt. Washington, New Marlborough, Pittsfield, Richmond, Stockbridge, Washington and West Stockbridge; the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts; the Women’s Interfaith Institute of the Berkshires; and many local organizations, businesses and individuals.

Bard College at Simon’s Rock has been a leader in educational innovation for more than 40 years. The first early college, Simon’s Rock is the only residential college in the country specifically designed to let bright, highly motivated students start college immediately after the 10th or 11th grade. Students who successfully complete the requirements receive the Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree after two years of study and the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree after four.