Freedom to read and sense and explore — #bannedbooksweek

The book shows a girl about 10 years old, standing in an orchard and looking at me while her classmates reach up to the tree branches around her. She tells a gentle story. She is trying to learn a new place and finding comfort in sun and trees and familiar sounds. A dog crunching windfall apples. Laughter.

She is smiling, an intelligent and rueful look with some hard-won optimism … a girl named Farah wearing a dupatta, a scarf, with her t-shirt and jeans, talking to her classmates in a new place that could be here.

I was wandering through North Adams on a quiet afternoon, when I walked into Installation Space and saw Eve Bunting’s One Green Apple on a shelf by the door. The shelf said ‘banned challenged books … take one — thank you.’

Thank you I thought back to them. I’d happened on a show by a local group of artists who have come together as the FeministFuturist Collective — Freedom Baird, Christina Balch, Majorie Kaye, Carolyn Wirth and guest filmmaker Homa Sarabi. And now that we’re heading into banned book week and apple season, I remember that day like a gift.

Fiber art gleamed in the window like a nest of dragon eggs. Geometric paintings opened bright colors. A film set sunlight dancing on the wall with one word sounding like a wave — nur, the word light in Farsi (and in Arabic). Sarabi drew the idea from a poem by contemporary Persian poet Forough Farokhzad.

‘My sky overflows with falling stars …
night melts like wax …
you breathe, and the sun will rise …

The Mount in Lenox holds many books from Edith Wharton's own library.
Photo by Susan Geller

The Mount in Lenox holds many books from Edith Wharton's own library.

Banned Books Week

The American Library Association takes time on October 1 to 7 to talk about banned books — to honor writers and storytellers and talk about the vital stories they tell — and to talk about the challenges they have seen this year. And in the Berkshires, this year we’re joining in.

Members of the Williams College community gather for A Seat at the Table, a presentation at Claiming Williams in 2017. Press photo courtesy of Williams
Williams College

Members of the Williams College community gather for A Seat at the Table, a presentation at Claiming Williams in 2017. Press photo courtesy of Williams

Get Loud — Celebration of Banned Books

October 1 at 3 p.m.
The Milne Public Library presents Get Loud: A Celebration of Banned Books at Williams College — with readers including writers Susan Choi, Manuel Gonzales and Peggy Kern, awardwinning actor Jessica Hecht and acclaimed poet and professor Rowan Ricardo Phillips.

Shaker Mill Books gathers unique new and known tales in West Stockbridge.
Photo by Kate Abbott

Shaker Mill Books gathers unique new and known tales in West Stockbridge.


For Shaker Mill Books’ banned book selves in West Stockbridge — talk with the Bear and Bee in North Adams and the Bookstore in Lenox — and check out Milne Library’s Right to Read

Events coming up in books and writing …

Find more art and performance, outdoors and food in the BTW events calendar.

The windows of Mass MoCA's former mill buildings glint in the sun.
Jun 22 2024 @ 1:00 pm
The Research & Development Store holds a conversation on Crip Authorship: Disability as Method with the book’s co-editor, Mara Mills, and contributing author Georgina Kleege.
Internationally acclaimed novelist Jonathan Lethem will talk with Mass MoCA about his latest book. Press photo courtesy of the museum
Jul 11 2024 @ 6:00 pm
Internationally acclaimed novelist Jonathan Lethem will talk with Mass MoCA about his latest book, Cellophane Bricks, which gathers a lifetime of Lethem’s art-writing.
Tracy K. Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, librettist, 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States and is a Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, will speak at Tanglewood. Press photo courtesy of the artist
Jul 20 2024 @ 5:00 pm
Tracy K. Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, librettist, 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States and is a Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, draws connections between literature, poetry, libretti and music.

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

If you’d like to see the website grow, you can join me for a few dollars a month, enough for a cup of coffee and a cider doughnut. Members get access to extra stories and multimedia, itineraries a bookmark tool. Let me know what you're looking for, and we’ll explore together.

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