February 1, 2015

Sisterhood is Still Powerful

Guest Blogger: Ellen Meeropol

Sisters are great, for people and for nonprofits. Sisters share the ups and downs of life. They share friends and values (well, not always), and clothes (okay, so nonprofits don’t wear clothes). For a nonprofit organization like Straw Dog Writers Guild, relying entirely on volunteer labor, sister organizations are especially precious. So we are lucky to share family ties with the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, celebrating their fifth anniversary next month.

Every March, our Berkshire sisters celebrate Women’s History Month with an amazing calendar of events dedicated to the creative force of women writers. The Berkshire Festival of Women Writers hosts events – at least one every day of the month, and most of them are free – in more than 30 venues across Berkshire County. They include writing workshops and lectures, readings and performances aimed at all writers – from beginners to professionals, from teens to seniors.


The range of topics offered is impressive. Here are a few that sound particularly interesting:

  • From Zero to One: First Books and What We Wish We’d Known, panel discussion
  • Out of the Mouths of Babes, An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others
  • Risky Business, reading and discussion about confronting one’s own truth as a writer and the perils of taking on difficult, sometimes forbidden, material.
  • The Permission to Write, keynote speaker Dani Shapiro
  • Anatomy of an Indie Novel: Moving from Concept to Publication
  • Learning to Speak Our Capital-T Truth: Women of Color on Self-Discovery
  • Words Aloud, workshop on reading your work in public.
  • Border Crossings: Writing About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Workshop
  • Writing Our Lives as Fiction and Memoir, workshop aimed at women who are beginning to write as well as those who have written either fiction or memoir and would like to transition to the other genre
  • Poetry from the Ground Up, workshop incorporating both physical and verbal centering exercises, interweaving approaches from martial arts and writing practices.
  • My Life in Comics: exhibition and gallery talk


The Berkshire Festival of Women Writers Book Expo is a new event this year, scheduled for Sunday afternoon, March 29, in Pittsfield. The Expo offers an opportunity to mingle and talk with authors, publishing companies, writing programs, and booksellers in the Berkshire region, along with other related businesses and vendors. Also: readings, children’s activities, raffles, and lots of great books! Straw Dog will be there, with a table of our members’ work, supporting our sister.

I plan to attend as many of the Berkshire Festival events as possible and hope to see you there. Check out the full schedule of events hereand support your sisters.

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Elli.2Ellen Meeropol is the author of two novels, House Arrest and On Hurricane Island. A former nurse practitioner, part-time bookseller, and literary late bloomer, Ellen’s short fiction and essay publications include Bridges, DoveTales, Pedestal, Rumpus, Portland Magazine, Beyond the Margins, The Drum, and The Writers Chronicle. Her website is www.ellenmeeropol.com.

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