January 18 2021 Edition
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By the Way
Tonight while a mob is attacking government buildings, while I am sitting safe by the fire at the foot of a mountain in a town where I know college students have been threatened a mile away and somehow stood tall and gone on, I am reading Danusha Lameris’ poems for the first time.

“… We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy …”

This is a poem about quiet care, like handing someone a hot cup of coffee on a cold day, and I owe the Stockbridge Library for introducing me to her work. She is the author of The Moons of August, chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the Autumn House Press poetry prize, and Bonfire Opera, and the 2020 recipient of the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award. She read her poems this afternoon (virtually) in the library’s virtual online series, and now I am reading them with aching awe.

They are poems that confront pain openly, and loneliness. She writes of the loss of a language spoken as a child and makes the sounds of it beautiful, and the interactions it holds. Simple moments of shared understanding become lode-bearing and load-bearing. She returns to a taste of ripe fruit, the ‘negotiations and nameless triumphs’ of a long and loving marriage … a woman singing waist-deep in the water.

I’m holding onto moments like that right now. When I talked with one of my writers and interns today, she was watching the news. We were trying to talk about a story idea from World War II, and we had to keep stopping to listen to a physical assault on our own capital. She said, if I understood right, that if America’s only response to violence like this is to deny that it is part of us, we are blocking out our own history. And I hear her. The way to end violence is not to deny it exists and not to glorify it.

The only way to end a brutal cycle that I know comes through those brief moments of exchange, when people connect with the world and each other. We have them here even now, in winter, in a pandemic. I look for them in conversations and the stories I tell … a painting, a song, a walk up Stone Hill when the cows are out … every time someone sits down to talk with me.

And I am thinking of talking with Shann Ray and Trinh Mai two weeks ago, on a zoom call with the California shore and southern Montana. He talked about a morning in the mountains when the sun on the melting rime shown like walking into the sky. He talked about a man taking responsibility even in pain and holding his family. She told me about the deep generosity that people who have lost almost everything can offer one another.

They too see violence clearly and turn to warmth. When the world becomes too vast and heavy in their work, somehow they will find an intimate casual touch between two people who have been together for years, or the unexpected zing of seeing a porcupine in a high meadow. We have those moments. And when I find them, I will share them. By the Way Berkshires

Events

Falling snow muffles the Eyes outside the Williams College Museum of Art.

Cures for Strange Times with WCMA

January 7 at 5:30 p.m.

Williams College Museum of Art presents an art and wellness workshop and meditation with Art historian and yoga instructor Emily Kamen and multi-instrumentalist and composer Zachary Hann.

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A hand turns the pages of an open book. Creative Commons courtesy photo.

Bennington virtual writers series

January 7 to 15 at 7 p.m. (online)

Bennington Writing Seminars will host Writers Reading, a virtual evening reading series with critically acclaimed, award-winning poets, novelists and nonfiction writers, opening with Jill McCorkle and Carmen Giménez Smith.

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Images Cinema will screen the film 'The Reason I Jump,' the story of a non-speaking autistic Japanese boy, Naoki Higashida. Press image courtesy of Images Cinema.

The Reason I Jump (virtual film) in Together We Rise

Opening January 8

Images Cinema will screen the film 'The Reason I Jump,' in Together We Rise: Summoning a Season of Renewal, a three-week virtual program from Williams College celebrating the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King.

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A harpsichord's sounding board curves into the light. Creative commons courtesy photo.

Early music ensemble Ruckus: Holy Manna

January 8 at noon

Experience the uniquely American sounds of shape note music as the early music ensemble Ruckus perform Holy Manna with bass-baritone John Taylor Ward.

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A trail wanders near the Housatonic River in Pittsfield in the snow.

Wildlife Tracking at Lime Kiln Farm

January 9 at 10 a.m.

Mass Audubon education coordinator Dale Abrams and naturalist Zach Adams will explore wildlife tracking through fields and forests at Lime Kiln Farm.

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The Stockbridge cemetery reaches back more than 250 years.

Honoring the Mohican story of Stockbridge

January 13 at 7 p.m. (online)

Bonney Hartley, Historic Preservation Manager for the Stockbridge Munsee community band of the Mohican Nation, will speak on Stockbridge-Munsee Cultural Heritage in 'Finding A Place Again: Honoring the Mohican Story of Stockbridge.'

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