(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – Author Jana Laiz, of North Egremont, Mass., has been named the first writer in residence in a new program at Arrowhead, the historic home of Moby-Dick author Herman Melville, in Pittsfield. The residency will take place in the spring of 2012, and will include time for the writer to work in Herman Melville’s study at Arrowhead, as well as time leading student workshops there and at the Pittsfield High School.
Jana Laiz has written several books, including The Twelfth Stone, Weeping Under The Same Moon, and Elephants of the Tsunami, and she co-wrote A Free Woman on God’s Earth, about Elizabeth Freeman, with Ann-Elizabeth Barnes. She is also a teacher.
The 2012 residency will give primary focus to Arrowhead. PHS students, with their teacher Robert Barsanti and writer Jana Laiz, will immerse themselves in the stories of the place and selected writings of Melville. The students will also engage in some site specific project or activity, in coordination with Betsy Sherman and Will Garrison at Arrowhead.
Partners in the Housatonic Heritage Writer’s Residency are Housatonic Heritage, Arrowhead, Pittsfield High School, and the City of Pittsfield’s Office of Cultural Development. They hope to connect students to the region’s literary heritage and to support area writers and educators in their efforts to teach and learn about the unique places in the Upper Housatonic Valley. The project is a pilot to try certain methods, with the hope that it may expand in the future.
The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area (Housatonic Heritage), the primary sponsor, works to preserve and promote the historical, cultural and natural resources of the Upper Housatonic River Valley region. Housatonic Heritage serves the 29-town Housatonic River watershed region, extending from Kent, Conn. to Lanesboro and Dalton, Mass.
Arrowhead is the home of the Berkshire Historical Society, an organization dedicated to collecting, preserving, and disseminating the history of Berkshire County. In addition, the Berkshire Historical Society is committed to the preservation and interpretation of Arrowhead, home of author Herman Melville, the first National Historic Landmark to be so designated in Berkshire County.
The Pittsfield School district is comprised of 12 schools, including two high schools, and serves 6,000 students. The project would take place in Pittsfield High School.
The Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development sponsors numerous programs in the city, including Third Thursdays and regular exhibitions and programs at its Lichtenstein Center for the Arts.