Women playwrights' reading | 4-6:30 pm March 29 | UNE Art Gallery, 716 Stevens Ave, Portland | Free | 207.567.3437

Jennifer Egan reading | 6:30 pm April 3 | Abromson Community Center, USM, Portland | $5 | 207.807.4114

Monica Wood reading | 7 pm April 3 | Abplanalp Library, UNE, 716 Stevens Ave, Portland | Free | 207.221.4324
In what is bound to be an energetic, wide-ranging event, nine local female playwrights will gather at the University of New England Art Gallery on March 29 to read selections from their work. The free event (donations accepted) is one of 100 events taking place internationally to commemorate the first-ever Support Women Artists Now (SWAN) Day, coordinated by the San Francisco-based Fund for Women Artists.

The Maine authors, who include Portland’s Carolyn Gage, Laura Emack of Prospect, and Joye Cook-Levy of Bangor, will present five- to 15-minute staged readings from their shows, which range from humorous to grave and touch on subjects like the Marden's Lady and Calamity Jane.

As luck would have it, this event will take place just days before two other acclaimed female authors — one from Maine, one not — read in Portland.

Monica Wood’s Any Bitter Thing (Ballantine, 2005) explored a disintegrating marriage, a fractured childhood, and the intricacies of emotional and physical healing that come in the wake of a false accusation and a terrible accident. It’s an absorbing read that loosely draws on Wood’s own childhood in Mexico, Maine, where she was raised in a family of avid storytellers and Irish Catholics. Wood has also penned three other novels, as well as two books about writing, including The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing (Writers Digest, 2002).

She’ll read from her latest novel-in-progress at the UNE Westbrook Campus in Portland on April 3, as part of the Maine Women Writers Collection author series (see “Morality Stories,” by Deirdre Fulton, February 29).

On the very same day, National Book Award finalist Jennifer Egan — whose second novel, The Keep (Knopf, 2006) was the first piece of fiction in years to make me gasp aloud in fear — will read and answer questions at the University of Southern Maine Hannaford Lecture Hall. The event is co-sponsored by Words and Images, USM’s 28-year-old journal of literary and visual arts, which will publish an interview with Egan next month.

“Besides being one of the finest writers working today, she manages to be restless and experimental in her work, while never letting that experimentation overwhelm the importance of involving characters and emotional storytelling,” says Benjamin Rybeck, Words and Images managing editor, of Egan’s truly divergent works.

Looks like supporting women artists now shouldn’t be too hard — this week.

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