Chases, escapes, true love, miracles … — #berkshireweekend

Libraries have always been magic for me. You walk into a room full of stories, Sunlit, quiet, warmed with a background hum of voices.

As Judy Ensign and Kirsten Rose pointed out to me, when we met for coffee, libraries are one of the few public places we have where people can come in free, any time, without even the cost of a cup of coffee. They have the open welcome of a park, and on a raw March day, they’re warm.

You can work, and you can rest. And I can play. Since I was a kid, when the library was one of the first places I could go on my own, I’ve come to wander through ideas, stories, voices weaving together, new ways to see the world.

They show me wonders. Ed Yong in An Immense World tells me a blue whale singing off the coast of Ireland can reach a whale off the coast of Bermuda, and their sound can map underwater mountains on the ocean floor.

Imagine the worlds our libraries are mapping. In the Library of Babel, Jorge Luis Borges creates an infinite space filled with all the books that can ever be written, all the stories that can ever be told.

Tashnuva Anan dances in the name of love

Tashnuva Anan. a Bangladeshi transgender rights activist and theater maker, comes to Williams College to perform Parikh (Lover), a new work based on her book of poetry of the same name. She is also the first openly transgender news anchor in Bangladesh.

Tashnuva Anan laughs in vivid sunlight in New York City. Press photo courtesy of the '62 Center at Williams College
Desmond Picotte for the New York Times

Tashnuva Anan laughs in vivid sunlight in New York City. Press photo courtesy of the '62 Center at Williams College

The Williamstown library will hold a talk about the Library of Babel in April, as part of their clebration of their 150th spring at the center of the community. Imagine even the library of all the stories that have been told and can be told on this ground.

Stories are where I live, and I have heard so many here, since my first nights as a college student, sharing a room and talking late with my roommate from Kingston, Jamaica. I remember sitting at a table in the dining hall in those early days, as her friends talked in patois, beautiful and warm and welcoming me in, and I remember the night before the first-year hiking trip, listening to Bernice Lewis sing her own folk music …

And so many voices have woven across the years since then. I can hear Monique Tyndall reading Layli Longsoldier’s poems aloud at Caretaker Farm on a sunner night. Toshi Reagon is singing her own score for Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower

Beatriz Cortez walks across the center of town and campus and through the Williams College Museum of Art, telling me stories I have never heard before. She tells me about Luce Bijah, who held nights of song and music and poetry with her friends in Deerfield. In the 1790s, she was known as a warm, charismatic storyteller, and we have some of those memories still, of a free Black woman whose force of character lives in fragments of newspapers and diaries and letters.

Imagine what stories a library can revive, reimagine, hold for us so we will remember them …

WCMA to the future — Imagine a museum that doesn’t yet exist …

A rendering from Brooklyn architectural firm SO-IL imagines the new Williams College Museum of Art — which has not yet been built — as it can look with lights glimmering at dusk on a spring day. Press photo courtesy of WCMA
SO-IL architects

A rendering from Brooklyn architectural firm SO-IL imagines the new Williams College Museum of Art — which has not yet been built — as it can look with lights glimmering at dusk on a spring day. Press photo courtesy of WCMA

Williams College Museum of Art has announced plans for the new college museum — a sustainable and fluid space created to fit into the land around it, the architects SO-IL say … and restore surrounding ecology to health. This image is a rendering — as though they have CGI’d a museum into the downtown. Imagine walking in here …

Poet Patricia Smith calls to Bennington College

Nationally awardwinning and highly acclaimed poet Patricia Smith stands smiling by a wooden fence grown with vines, in a vivid red and gold-patterned shirt. Press photo courtesy of Bennington College
Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Nationally awardwinning and highly acclaimed poet Patricia Smith stands smiling by a wooden fence grown with vines, in a vivid red and gold-patterned shirt. Press photo courtesy of Bennington College

Nationally awardwinning poet and National Book Award finalist Patricia Smith, four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam and more, opens this spring’s poetry series at Bennington College with an evening of her own work …

More events coming up …

Berkshire novelist Lara Tupper sits in the sun. Press photo courtesy of the artist
Apr 13 2024 @ 1:00 pm
In celebration of National Poetry Month, awardwinning novelist Lara Tupper will lead a free haiku workshop honoring the natural world, and the group will try their hand at the three-line form.
A local exhibit of poems celebrate the Hoosic River on the suspension bridge at Tourists Welcome in North Adams.
Apr 15 2024 @ 7:30 pm
The Hoosic River Watershed Association invites everyone in the communities along the river to celebrate the waterway and write haiku inspired by the river and its surroundings.
A reader holds Emily Dickinson's poems in the sunlight.
Apr 16 2024 @ 10:00 am
What would happen if a library could hold every book that ever can be written? Everyone is invited to a free, open conversation about the mystical library in Jorge Luis Borges' story, 'The Library of Babel.'

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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