LENOX -- The Mount’s second literary festival, Berkshire WordFest 2012, brings nearly 20 nationally acclaimed writers to The Mount for panels, interviews, and public conversations, Sept. 14 to 16. The festival also includes many free readings by writers and poets with ties to the Berkshires.
"We are thrilled to present the second Berkshire WordFest, and honored to host some of the nation’s finest contemporary writers," said Susan Wissler, The Mount’s executive director. "For decades, the Berkshire region has been a proud showcase of world-class music, art, theatre, and dance. Since the area has a rich literary heritage as well, we felt it was time to celebrate books, writers, and readers. This lovely property, designed and occupied by Edith Wharton - the first woman to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction - is the perfect venue for it."
Berkshire WordFest builds on The Mount’s history of successful literary programming and deepens its commitment to celebrating the written word and legacy of Edith Wharton. The festival is generously supported by The Amy Clampitt Fund, a fund of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation; Blantyre; Cranwell Resort, Spa, and Golf Club; and Berkshire magazine.
More than 20 nationally acclaimed writers, editors and poets will appear on the Berkshire WordFest’s "Main Stage" over the course of the festival weekend, including John Berendt, Francine du Plessix Gray, New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik, Mary Morris, Nancy Novogrod, Anne Garrels, and Wharton scholar Roxana Robinson.
Friday, Sept. 14
Literary Laughs, 5 to 6:15 p.m., The Stables. Local writer Kevin O’Hara shares his humorous Irish-influenced insights, then internationally acclaimed comedienne and bestselling author of The English American Alison Larkin takes the stage to present her own revealing and hilarious journey to unearth her American roots. Reception and book signing to follow. $25 general; $23 members.
Saturday, Sept. 15
n Books and Bagels, 9 to 10 a.m. on The Mount’s beautiful Terrace. Titles by all participating writers will be available for purchase. Bagels, pastries, and coffee will be available for purchase. Free.
n Readings by Berkshire Poets and Writers, 10 to 5 p.m. on The Terrace. Hear well-known local poets and writers read from their published and about-to-be-published works. Free.
n When Bad is Good: The Literary Lure of Self Destruction, 10 to 11 a.m., The Glen. A panel discussion with Alexander Chee, Elissa Schappell, and Dani Shapiro, with moderator Noreen Tomassi. $25 general; $23 Mount members.
n In Conversation: Adam Gopnik with Kate Bolick, 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., The Glen. Listen in as writer Kate Bolick engages in a lively conversation with Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker magazine. Book signing to follow. $25 general; $23 Mount members.
n In Conversation: Matthew Pearl with Joe Donahue, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., The Glen. Bestselling novelist Matthew Pearl joins WAMC’s Joe Donahue to talk about unraveling historical mysteries, teaching creative writing, and giving voice to shelter animals. $25 general; $23 Mount members.
n From Insider to Informant: Conveying Culture Through Literature, 1:45 to 2:45 p.m., The Glen. A panel discussion with Adam Gopnik, Suketu Mehta, and Roxana Robinson, with moderator Harold Augenbraum. Like Edith Wharton, who laid bare the social dynamics of wealthy New Yorkers of her time, contemporary writers find inspiration in distinctive settings. By either circumstance or design, these writers are afforded access to interior worlds. $25 general; $23 Mount members.
n Poetry Reading with Mary Jo Salter, 3 to 4 p.m., The Glen. Join us for a special reading by one of the nation’s leading poets. The reading will be followed by a book signing of the poet’s new book, A Phone Call to the Future, as well as The Selected Poems of Amy Clampitt (2011), edited by Salter. Free.
n In Conversation: John Berendt with Joe Donahue, 4:15 to 5:15 p.m., The Glen. Pulitzer Prize-finalist John Berendt joins WAMC’s Joe Donahue for a captivating dialogue about the lure of eccentric personalities and casting light on the shadows in beautiful places. $25 general; $23 Mount members.
n Music After Hours, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., House and Terrace. Join festival authors and attendees on the terrace to relax, converse, enjoy the view, and listen to live music. Books and refreshments, including wine and beer, will be available for purchase. Free admission.
Sunday, Sept. 16
n Books and Bagels, 9 to 10 a.m., The Terrace.
n Readings by Berkshire Poets and Writers, 10 to 5 p.m., The Terrace.
n Take Me There: The Power of Place, 10 to 11 a.m., The Glen. A panel discussion with John Berendt, Claire Messud, and Mary Morris, with moderator Nancy Novogrod, editor of Travel + Leisure magazine. Place is potent. Where we are influences who we are: musings and lifestyles are shaped by our surroundings, altered by the happenstance of landing at particular geographic coordinates. $25 general; $23 Mount members.
n In Conversation: Heidi Julavits with Kate Bolick, 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., The Glen. Heidi Julavits sits with writer Kate Bolick for a candid conversation about writing fiction, editing a magazine, psychic connections, and summering in Maine.$25 general; $23 Mount members.
n In Conversation: Francine du Plessix Gray with Anne Garrels, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., The Glen. Pulitzer Prize-nominee Francine du Plessix Gray joins author and foreign correspondent Anne Garrels to share her stories about intriguing historical figures, glamorous parents, and choosing the rural life. $25 general; $23 Mount members.
n A Sense of Menace: Fears, Foes, and Felons, 1:45 to 2:45 p.m., The Glen. A panel discussion with Megan Abbott, Heidi Julavits, and Matthew Pearl, with moderator Jonathan Santlofer. What draws writers - and their readers - to the literary dark side? $25 general; $23 Mount members.
Admission, Tickets and Festival Passes
Many events are free, including: readings by local poets and writers; a reading by renowned poet Mary Jo Salter on Saturday afternoon; Music After Hours on Saturday evening; and book signings. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.
Tickets for each panel, interview, and the Friday night "Literary Laughs" performance are $25 ($23 for Mount members). All-access passes are $175 ($165 for Mount members) and one-day passes, which allow access to all public events on either Saturday or Sunday, are $90 ($85 for Mount members). Tickets and passes can be purchased online at BerkshireWordFest.org or by telephone at 413-551-5100.