The Mastheads is a public humanities project in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We seek to connect residents to the literary history of the region, create a forum for thinking about place, and support the production of new creative work. Founded in 2016 upon the legacy of five American Renaissance authors who wrote in Pittsfield, The Mastheads is at once an urban architectural experiment, a literary research initiative, a writers’ residency, and an educational program. Our projects include:
Mobile Writing Studios: The physical spaces that comprise The Mastheads are five sculptural studios, each the architectural interpretation of the original structure from which one of five American Renaissance authors wrote while in Pittsfield: Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., and Henry David Thoreau. From spring to fall, the studios are installed in different locations around the Berkshires for diverse Mastheads public programming and events.
Writers' Residency: In July, five writers are invited to Pittsfield to live and work. Residents receive a $900 stipend, travel reimbursement, a private room in a house shared with the other residents, and exclusive use of one of the Mastheads studios.
Lecture Series: Along with select events throughout the year, we produce city-wide humanities programming to complement our July Writers' Residency—including public lectures, community conversations, and literary readings—with a new theme each summer.
Educational Programming: During the school year, The Mastheads operates its poetry-in-schools program, Fireside, in Pittsfield Public Schools. Students compose original poetry, and each ten-week course culminates in an anthology of student work and a community reading.
Publication and Design: Each year we assemble and publish The Mastheads Reader, a carefully curated collection of writing by Pittsfield authors, complete with an introduction and scholarly apparatus, to pair with the July programming. In the summer, we produce The Mastheads x The Berkshire Eagle Folds, a series of four newspaper folds that include transcripts of our lectures and community conversations, writing by our residents, as well as drawings, cartoons, poetry, and other writing by local authors and our Fireside students. We also collaborate with local artists to decorate the city with the words of Pittsfield authors.
Five writers across disciplines (poetry, fiction, non-fiction, translation, comics, and more) are awarded residencies for the month of July in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Residents receive a $900 stipend, travel reimbursement, a room in a communal house shared with the other residents, and exclusive use of one of the Mastheads studios, which are located at a new site throughout the Berkshires each summer. On weekdays, we provide on-call transportation to the studios. For other transportation needs, residents may use the bikes provided, their own cars, taxis, or Lyft.
The studios are rustic and open-air.
They include a built-in desk, bench, and chair, and are each equipped with a rechargeable, portable electric outlet. Each studio is located within 100 feet of an accessible restroom. The studios may be installed in either urban or rural locations, and applicants should be comfortable working in either environment. Our goal is to both inspire residents and give them the time and space they need to create. (Visit our website for a closer look!)
Public programming during the residency includes lectures and conversations with scholars and experts across disciplines.
In 2019, we'll explore the parallel tracks of the Gilded Age and the Harlem Renaissance in the Berkshires, discussing the work of Edith Wharton, Edna St. Vincent Millay, James Weldon Johnson, James Van Der Zee, and Herman Melville. Events are held at locations such as Melville's Arrowhead and the Samuel Harrison House, and dinner for the guest speaker and residents is provided, as these gatherings are an integral part of The Mastheads' commitment to building literary community and sharing ideas.
Residents also give at least one public reading of their work, when we offer their books or chapbooks for sale to the community. At the end of the month, residents submit 1,000 words or 2 to 5 poems to publish in The Mastheads X The Berkshire Eagle newspaper folds and to preserve in an ongoing Pittsfield Anthology.
To apply, submit a CV, a Letter of Intent, and a Writing Sample.
Please follow the specific formatting and length requirements below. Applicants will be notified of their status by April 1, 2019.