‘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!

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

BFWW-website-banner

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.

My book Frost in the Low Areas was a finalist for the 2014 Massachusetts Book Award, along with Amy Dryansky’s Grass Whistle (her book won top spot, and it’s wonderful!), Stephen Burt’s Belmont, Mark Hart’s Boy Singing to Cattle, Myles Gordon’s Inside the Splintered Wood, and Ben Berman’s Strange Borderlands. Click the link below to see all the “Must-Read Books” of 2014 – fiction, nonfiction, children’s, and poetry – and read a little about them. 

Massachusetts Book Award

Here’s what the judges had to say about my book: “Karen Skolfield’s debut, Frost in the Low Areas introduces a poet who encompasses both the beauty and darkness of the natural world, the particulars of her children, and the corrosiveness of family secrets. Yet even in the darkest of circumstance, each poem is filled with joy, humor, and elegance.”

It’s pretty fabulous being in such good company, and I love that the state of Massachusetts (specifically, the library system) does so much to promote books. I’ve added the other books to my own “Must-Read” list – hey, they’re librarian endorsed! No one’s on more intimate footing with books than a librarian.

A nice side benefit: I’ve now met Amy Dryansky, Mark Hart (also from Amherst!!) and Ben Berman. It was such a pleasure. I hope I’ll get to meet Stephen Burt and Myles Gordon, as well.