‘First Books’ Article in Berkshire Eagle

The Berkshire Festival of Women Writers kicks off tomorrow (March 1) with our panel: “From Zero to One: First Books and What We Wish We’d Known,” 11 a.m., Miss Hall’s School, 492 Holmes Road, Pittsfield.

Kate Abbott from the Berkshire Eagle wrote a fabulous article about the first week of the BFWW, especially about our panel. Read it here!

With Amy Dryansky, Susan Kan, Sarah Sousa, and Michelle Valois. Cheers!

2015 Arts & Humanities Awards from New England Public Radio

NEPRlogo2013I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve been awarded the 2015 Arts & Humanities Award from New England Public Radio (emerging artist). Big congratulations, too, to the Community Music School of Springfield, MA (2015 Outstanding Organization) and musician Andrew Lawrence (2015 Outstanding Individual).

New England Public Radio has given the Arts & Humanities awards since 2008; I’m the first poetry-only writer, second writer on the list (Jane Yolen received last year’s Outstanding Individual). Go poetry!!

Here’s what NEPR has to say: “Established by the New England Public Radio Foundation, Inc. in 2008, the New England Public Radio Arts and Humanities Award has been recognizing the rich and varied arts scene in the region for six years and counting. The award recognizes the contributions of local talent, and brings greater public awareness to the critical role played by musicians, artists, dancers, actors, writers and teachers in western New England.”

You can read all about the award and the gala and fundraiser on May 12 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke by clicking here. Check out the past recipients of the award, listed at the bottom of the page. I think I’m reading a couple of poems at the gala. There might be acceptance speeches (I’ll be ridiculously brief: one goofy look at the audience, one breathy thank you, how’s that?). I’ve already told my kids they need to dress up: you can imagine the eye rolling. “Again?” my son wailed (he had to wear a shirt WITH A COLLAR at the PEN New England & Hemingway awards last year). My daughter, on the other hand, said “Oh, I’m wearing a shirt and tie!” She’s a flexible dresser. I appreciate this.

My thanks to New England Public Radio for the recognition and for supporting the arts!

BFWW Panel: “From Zero to One: First Books and What We Wish We’d Known”

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Lecture and panel discussion moderated by Karen Skolfield with Amy Dryansky, Susan Kan, Sarah Sousa, and Michelle Valois

Miss Hall’s School, Centennial Hall, 492 Holmes Road, Pittsfield, 11 a.m.

This event will be of special interest to writers submitting a manuscript or about to publish a first book. We’ll discuss the happy but often bewildering aftermath of acceptance: book design, publicity, the vulnerability of being newly published, postpublication contests, second and beyond books, and the importance of continuing to write after a manuscript has been assembled or even published. We’ll also talk about prepublication editing, researching presses, and contests, realistic publishing expectations, and dealing with a difficult publisher. Although the panel will focus on life after an acceptance, we will have handouts that address the business side of preparing a manuscript. Panelists include a publisher/editor, poets, and a prose writer in various stages of their career. Discussion will be audience-driven—bring your questions! Afterward, the panelists and Perugia Press will have books for sale and will be available for some follow-up questions.

Amy Dryansky’s newest poetry collection, Grass Whistle, was released in 2013 by Salmon Poetry and received the MA Book Award for poetry. She’s also a MA Cultural Council Poetry Fellow. Her first book, How I Got Lost So Close to Home, was published by Alice James, and individual poems appear in a variety of anthologies and journals.

Susan Kan is founder and director of Perugia Press, a nonprofit, independent literary press publishing the best new women poets in the country (first and second books only). Prior to starting the press in 1997, Susan earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College. Many Perugia books have gone on to win national book awards. See http://www.perugiapress.com.

Karen Skolfield’s book Frost in the Low Areas (2013) won the 2014 PEN New England Award in poetry and the First Book Award from Zone 3 Press. She is a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow, teaches writing to engineers at the University of Massachusetts, and is the poetry editor for Amherst Live and an associate editor for Sundress Publications.

Sarah Sousa is the author of the poetry collections Church of Needles (Red Mountain Press) and Split the Crow (Parlor Press); she also transcribed and edited The Diary of Esther Small: 1886. Her poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, Fugue, and Passages North, among others. She holds an MFA from Bennington College and lives in western Massachusetts.

Michelle Valois is a writer and teacher who has published poetry and prose in the Massachusetts ReviewTriquarterlyBrevity, Fourth Genre, the Florida ReviewSlipstream, and others. Her chapbook My Found Vocabulary (Aldridge) is forthcoming. She teaches at Mount Wachusett Community College.