WordFest at The Mount 2013

After a whirlwind weekend that capped three festive weeks of literary happenings at The Mount, we’re still celebrating the success of our third WordFest! It rocked, even if we do say so ourselves.

"Writing from the Heart" participants Maria Sirois, Suzi Banks Baum, and Lydia Littlefield
“Writing from the Heart” participants Maria Sirois, Suzi Banks Baum, and Lydia Littlefield

This year’s festival drew more than 500 people for readings and other special events. Writers and poets shared their earnest voices, their personal stories, their creative achievements, and their humorous perspectives. Among the audience members, we saw familiar faces, new faces, laughing faces, and tear-stained faces. We welcomed tweens, teenagers, young adults, middle-age adults, and seniors, including a number of people well into their 80s. It was exactly the mix we’d hoped for!

In case you missed it, WordFest 2013 included:

  • Engaging, provocative readings by regional slam poets, hosted by Christian Phiffer and Rambling Poets (September 5).
  • A moving, emotional“Writing from the Heart” readings by regional writers and poets, co-presented by the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers (September 12)
  • A Poetry on the Terrace evening (September 19) featuring six amazing poets—Charles Coe, Jessica Fisher, David Giannini, Mark Hart, Lilah Hegnauer, and Owen Lewis–and fabulous late-summer weather.
  • A high-energy, lots-of-laughs production of Literary Death Match (September 20), starring creator Adrian Todd Zuniga, along with Jim Shepard, Ophira Eisenberg, Jason Diamond, Brando Skyhorse, Rachel Shukert, Steve Almond, and the night’s champion Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz.
  • A fun and enlightening high school poetry workshop with Cristin Aptowicz (September 21).
  • Poetry readings by talented high school students on the Terrace (September 21).
  • And a brilliant, mesmerizing reading by Mark Strand, the highly acclaimed poet of this year’s Amy Clampitt Memorial Reading (September 21).
Literary Death Match at The Mount participants, September 2013 (Photo by Eric Korenman)

The full-capacity audience adored Mark Strand, and for good reason. He managed to be both somber and playful, teasing us with gentle humor while sharing his reflections on loneliness, aging, and death. One of our favorites among the recited prose poems from Mr. Strand’s latest collection Almost Invisible is “Anywhere Could Be Somewhere,” which begins:

“I might have come from the high country, or maybe the low country, I don’t recall which. I might have come from the city, but what city in what country is beyond me. I might have come from the outskirts of a city from which others have come or maybe a city from which only I have come. Who’s to know?…”

Mark Strand at the Amy Clampitt Memorial Reading, September 2013 (Photo by John Seakwood)
Mark Strand at the Amy Clampitt Memorial Reading, September 2013 (Photo by John Seakwood)

We salute the writers, poets, students, audience members, and supporters who made it all possible. Thanks to all of you, we’re excited to do it again next year—with gusto!

Click here for an entertaining recap of the Literary Death Match event on Friday, September 20, including photos by Eric Korenman.

Photographer John Seakwood captured this year’s Amy Clampitt Memorial Reading with Mark Strand. Click here to take a look.

If you were a part of WordFest in any way, we’d love to get your feedback. Please comment below, or send a note to info@edithwharton.org. We’re already talking about the 2014 festival, so we’d love to get your input as we begin to shape our plans.

In the meantime, happy reading and writing!