Berkshire Women Writers to explore Masculinity via Essay Contest

Masculinity, it’s not just for men to write about anymore.

Everyone has a view of what constitutes masculinity, and it’s always great to compare whether women’s views jibe with that of men. Last year, the Berkshire’s women writers opined on the subject of femininity, and it got some really interesting discussions going.

So a call is going out to all Berkshire women writers: please get out your pens or fire up your laptops and enter the Second Annual Berkshire Festival of Women Writers Essay Contest, sponsored by Michelle Gillett and Nina Ryan and judged by Berkshire resident Katherine Bouton, retired senior editor of The New York Times.

Last year, the Festival Essay Contest received more than 50 essays, out of which three winners received prizes and were invited to read their work to an admiring audience at The Mount. We look forward to receiving a wealth of essays on this year’s provocative topic: Masculinity.

Three of the many shades of masculinity: athletic-abercrombie, androgynous and all-American.

mas·cu·lin·i·ty n

1.The quality of looking and behaving in ways conventionally thought to be appropriate for a man or boy

2. Men as a group (dated)

3. A manner or feature commonly attributed to men

4. The qualities, actions, or types of behavior in a woman or girl that are conventionally associated with men or boys

Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Last year, you were asked for submissions on the subject of femininity. This year, we thought we would ask you to consider the other side of the coin.

What is masculinity? What experiences of culture, body, biology, roles, behavior, language, work, spirit have defined or made you question ideas of masculinity?

We invite women and girls of all ages and experiences to take on the subject of masculinity in a personal essay. Be playful, inventive, unconventional or straightforward, but whatever approach you take, base your essay on personal experience.

In his introduction to The Art of the Personal Essay, Philip Lopate writes: “The hallmark of the personal essay is its intimacy. The writer seems to be speaking directly into your ear, confiding everything from gossip to wisdom. Through sharing thoughts, memories, desires, complaints, and whimsies, the personal essayist sets up a relationship with the reader, a dialogue—a friendship, if you will, based on identification, understanding, testiness, and companionship.”

Deadline: Friday, January 4, 2013 (essay must have Jan. 4th postmark)

Judge: Katherine Bouton, retired senior editor at The New York Times and author of the recently published book Shouting Won’t Help, a personal, psychological and physiological examination of widespread and misunderstood phenomenon of deafness.

Award ceremony: March 23, venue TBA.

Length & format: 750-1000 words; pages numbered; include cover page with name, email, phone, mailing address, and the title of the essay.

Submit your essay by mail to:

c/o Nina Ryan & Michelle Gillett
P.O. Box 1134
Stockbridge, MA 01262

For further information check or email

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