Books and Consciousness: A Ten-Year WBF Retrospective

With Elizabeth Lesser, Mark Matousek, Baird Hersey, and Akiko Kamigawara. Moderated by Gail Straub

Reconnecting with themes discussed in the past ten years of WBF, the 2019 spirituality panel focuses on topics that offer insight and guidance in unsettling times: writing as an act of resilience; the critical role of the dark in life and in writing; creativity and awakening; and how, more than ever, we need books to keep essential meaning and human connection alive.

Elizabeth Lesser, Mark Matousek, and Baird Hersey have all written or composed pioneering works that have confronted difficult and seminal life issues, and uplifted people worldwide. In a dynamic conversation they discuss the role of books, spirituality, and consciousness in fraught times. Virtuoso violinist Akiko Kamigawara will join the panel for a final Quartet of Consciousness: A Weaving of Words and Music.


Gail-Straub-Woodstock-Bookfest-2018Gail Straub is the author of six books, including the best-selling Empowerment, which has been translated into over fourteen languages; and the award-winning feminist memoir, Returning to My Mother’s House. Her new book The Ashokan Way: Landscape’s Path into Consciousness, is a love letter to Woodstock and its mountain valley. A passionate activist and pioneer in the field of empowerment, she co-directs the Empowerment Institute, a school for transformative social change where over the last three decades she has offered her work to tens of thousands of people worldwide.


elizabeth-lesser-spirituality-panel-woodstock-bookfest-2019Elizabeth Lesser is the author of several bestselling books, including Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow and Marrow: Love, Loss & What Matters Most. She is the cofounder of Omega Institute, recognized internationally for its workshops and conferences in wellness, spirituality, creativity, and social change. She has given two popular TED talks, and is one of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100, a collection of a hundred leaders who are using their voices and talent to elevate humanity.


mark-matousek-spirituality-woodstock-bookfest-2019Mark Matousek is an award-winning author of two memoirs, Sex Death Enlightenment: A True Story (an international bestseller) and The Boy He Left Behind: A Man’s Search For His Lost Father, as well as When You’re Falling, Dive: Lessons in the Art of Living, Ethical Wisdom: The Search for a Moral Life, and Mother of the Unseen World. A MacDowell Fellow and former editor at Interview Magazine, he has contributed to numerous anthologies and publications, including The New Yorker, O: The Oprah Magazine (contributing editor), Harper’s Bazaar, Yoga Journal, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and The Saturday Evening Post, and is a columnist for Psychology Today. A popular speaker and teacher, he offers courses in creativity and spiritual growth in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe, based on his book, Writing To Awaken: A Journey of Truth, Transformation, and Self-Discovery. Matousek is a founding member of V-Men (with Eve Ensler), an organization devoted to ending violence against women and girls, and lives in Springs, New York.


baird-hersey-woodstock-bookfest-2019Baird Hersey is a composer, musician and National Endowment for the Arts Composition Fellow. He is best known as the leader of The Year Of The Ear which featured his compositions arranged for horns and percussion. He also has been the leader and composer for his vocal group Prana since 2000. Hersey has recorded fifteen albums and has also composed extensively for WABC television. Baird has performed throughout the US and Europe in such varied settings as the Berlin Jazz Festival, MTV, and a Benefit for the Dalai Lama Foundation. He is the author of “The Practice of Nada Yoga” a book on sound meditation published by Inner Traditions. He has been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, McGill University, M.I.T. and Bennington College. He was on the faculty of The California Institute of Integral Studies for four years.


Akiko-Kamigawara-Woodstock-Bookfest-2019Akiko Kamigawara is a classical violinist. Born in Tokyo, she has studied and performed as a soloist throughout Europe, and has received prizes at national and international competitions.  Akiko started her Woodstock career humbly in 2014, playing J.S. Bach’s solo violin works on the street; as was fortuitously and favorably reported in the Woodstock Times of October 5, 2014 (“Bach on the streets”). She has since been performing throughout the Hudson Valley, including as soloist with the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra. In 2018, Akiko became a faculty member at the Music Department of SUNY Dutchess. In her spare time, Akiko manages the NYC-based Brooklyn Math Tutors, and runs the local community podcast “Hudson Valley Stories” with her husband.


Get a Full Festival pass and you’ll get to take in the Story Slam on Thursday night. Then sail into the weekend: attending all the wonderful panels, breakfast, both Little Bites and Big Libations Cocktail Parties, and both evening events. And share the bounty from our always-stuffed goody bag.

Or treat yourself to The Whole Shebang for $450. Here’s what you’ll get:

All of the above PLUS the One Day Intensive of your choice.

Kleinert/James Center
34 Tinker Street
Woodstock
Saturday March 30, 2019
9:30AM