"I share with the painters the desire

to put a three-dimensional picture

on a one-dimensional surface."

Nikki Giovanni winds up "Cotton Candy in the Rain" with this line. She is coming here.

When I learned from the Lift Ev'ry Voice organizers that she will read her poetry here in June, I started telling my friends, and I was stuttering with excitement.

I have loved her poetry since college, and more as I grow older -- while I was writing an early draft of my first novel, I found a recording of her reading "Rosa Parks," This is for the Pullman porters ... and it made me cry. It still does.

And I share with her that desire -- to make what lies on these pages solid -- so that you can hear and feel a jazz trumpeter playing on the lawn at dusk, or Maori dancer at Jacob's Pillow with the mountains behind her. As I gather summer events for this magazine, I look for the people, the makings, that are as bold and rugged and real as the mountains.

I don't yet know what songs and stories here will bring me up standing, as that poem did -- Tom Stoppard at Williamstown Theater and Shakespeare & Company -- or Yo-Yo Ma performng with bluegrass musicians in "Goat Rodeo" at Tanglewood -- or Audra MacDonald at the Colonial Theatre, or Sweet Honey in the Rock with the Berkshire Choral Festival?

But I have talked with many of the people working to bring them here. So in these pages you will find Winslow Homer painting the coast in oils, and Louisa May Alcott and her mother, Abigail, writing for abolition, reading Margaret Fuller's front-page news stories and writing about women who had work to do.

Here North Carolina potter Mark Hewitt will bring four-foot-tall pots fired in a 40-foot-long kiln, with Japanese glazes spangled with salt and glass. And Xu Bing's giant Phoenixes, made out of shovel heads and hydraulic breakers from construction sites in Beijing, will fly.