Creative Getaway / Jacob’s Pillow


After months of intensive bookwriting and Kickstarting, Tim and I reached creative burnout on Thursday night.  So we did the only sensible thing: we packed up the car and drove to Jacob’s Pillow for a much-needed dose of creative rejuvenation.

I’ve been wanting to go see the summer dance performances at Jacob’s Pillow for ages.  It felt good to be in a space where choreographers and dancers were practicing and living and creating new work.  Being there reminded me of the feeling of being at an arts residency, surrounded by all these other people embarking on creative projects.  At this moment of creative burnout there was a restorative energy in being in that kind of generative environment.

Plus, Jacob’s Pillow’s has the most spectacular stage for its outdoor performances.  It backs right into a drop-down view of the tree-lined valley and the surrounding mountains, so the dancers aren’t dancing so much in the amphitheater as in the landscape.  It’s incredible the way this vista amplifies the meaning and impact of movement.

We were lucky enough to catch the Alonzo King LINES Ballet, too, and their first piece to Concerto For Two Violins was so jawdroppingly stunning from the rich powerhouse first movement to the subtle, entwined quartet of dancers in “Largo Ma Non Tanto,” that  it was one of those moments where you just sit there and think thank God I’m alive for this.

Our good friends Kate & Robert (of the amazing Oakes & Smith art folk duo), live not too far from Jacob’s Pillow, so we decided to make a night of it and sat up impressively late over wine and brie talking about Edith Wharton and artmaking and Pluto.

And then, because it’s the Berkshires — and what trip to the Berkshires would be complete without a visit to Tanglewood? — we wandered over and listened to the symphony rehearse Mozart to the intermittent peal of thunder and downpour.  During a break in the storm, we walked all through those genteel landscaped grounds and through the strains of opera practice and summer institute orchestras and the tuning of a grand piano.

After a stop at the Amherst Bookstore (where I picked up this book — so excited!) and a great visit with Judy, we wended our way back home and back to work on our own creative projects.  There really is nothing like a couple of days of art and dance and music to interrupt and reinvigorate this long, crazy last stretch of bookwriting.

p.s. Tim’s new album is almost ready!  Check out the preview title track!  (And lend a hand, too?)

All I Love and Know

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Speaking of reading, my friend Judy‘s second novel came out last week.  Judy and I were in residence at MacDowell together during the weeks she finished writing it.  Our studios were a few hundred yards apart on narrow MacDowell Road, and during our occasional afternoon walks together, we’d talk about our books-in-progress.  I’ve been excited to read this novel since.

When I stopped to visit Judy in Amherst on Memorial Day, she gave me an advance reader copy.  The novel is so good that in the days after she gave it to me, I woke up early in the mornings just so I could get in an extra hour or two of reading before work.  It’s always exciting when a friend publishes a new piece of writing, but especially so when it’s breathtaking.

All I Love and Know is a novel of startling nuance and breadth.  When a Jerusalem cafe bombing kills Daniel’s twin brother, he becomes the guardian of his young niece and nephew.  He and his partner Matt navigate a precarious new parenthood, fraught with challenges from the children’s Holocaust-survivor grandparents, the intricacies of Israeli law, the socio-legal complexities of family-building in the months before gay marriage in Massachusetts, and the painful expansion and contraction of love in the wake of grief.

It is a novel that takes place at the intersections of the interpersonal and the geopolitical.   And Frank deftly interweaves an incisive parsing of Israeli and LGBT politics with a nuanced insight into the lives and relationships of her two protagonists.  It is a novel about twin-dom and parenthood and Israel and the choices that resurface over the course of a life.  Judy explores all of this with a compassion that can hold these two men, can encompass their family’s fluctuations and elasticity.

I loved it so much, I bought another, hardcover copy this week.  Please make sure you read this book.  It’s truly an exceptional piece of writing, and a staggering work.