Because books aren’t just for reading, 49 Writers Crosscurrents onstage conversations unite authors and audiences through lively, moderated discussions on questions pertaining to art, culture, and science as illuminated by writers and their work.

upcoming events | Stay tuned for more details of our 2017-2018 season.

JUNEAU September 29, 2017 | Art & Life in the Aftermath with Joan Naviyuk Kane, Don Rearden, and Vera Starbard
APK Building, 395 Whittier Street, Juneau, Alaska FREE
5 pm: NEA Big Read Kickoff with refreshments by Friends of the Alaska State Library and Museum
5:30 pm: Crosscurrents program

49 Writers is pleased to present the keynote event to kick off the NEA Big Read in Juneau, in partnership with Juneau Public Libraries (JPL), Alaska State Library and Museum, Friends of JPL, and Friends of Alaska State Library and Museum. The big read will focus on the book Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, with activities planned through October 2017.

Juneau Public Libraries was awarded a $15,000 grant to host the NEA Big Read. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. JPL is one of 75 nonprofit organizations in the country to receive an NEA Big Read grant to host a community reading program between September 2017 and June 2018.

“A community wide reading and discussion of a common book is a wonderful way to promote literacy and can also provide a safe venue for beginning difficult dialogues. We selected Station Eleven as our NEA Big Read title because we see it as a story to inspire conversations about survival, be it physical, emotional, or cultural, while acknowledging, as Mandel writes, that mere ‘survival is insufficient.’ To be resilient in the aftermath of traumatic events, we need art in many forms to express hope and as a path to healing” said Beth Weigel, program coordinator for the Juneau Public Libraries.

“Through the NEA Big Read we are bringing contemporary works to communities across the country, helping us better understand the diverse voices and perspectives that come with it,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “These 75 organizations have developed unique plans to celebrate these works, including numerous opportunities for exploration and conversation.”

Our Crosscurrents event on Friday, September 29, 2017 will feature playwright Vera Starbard , poet Joan Naviyuk Kane , and writer Don Rearden in an onstage conversation bridging themes addressed in Station Eleven with their own creative work and lived experience in Alaska.

Also: Joan Naviyuk Kane and Don Rearden will each teach a short creative writing workshop on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. Register

past events

March 12, 2017 | Danger Close: Alaska
Who Owns the Story? | with Brian Castner, Don Rearden, and Matthew Komatsu
Doors open at 6:30 pm. Event begins at  7 pm
49th State. Brewing Co. Barrel Room East, 717 W 3rd Avenue, Anchorage
$10, or $5 for 49 Writers members and any active duty or veteran service members.
Tickets available at the door, though advanced purchases are recommended. Tickets here.
Part of Danger Close: Alaska

Story ownership continues to be a contested issue within the literary community. Brian Castner (The Long Walk and All the Ways We Kill and Die) and Don Rearden (The Raven’s Gift and the co-authored Never Quit) will discuss how they navigated these waters not only in the telling of war stories, but also as writers challenged with conveying Arctic and indigenous narratives against the backdrop of a warming planet. Join us for a night of lively discussion moderated by Matthew Komatsu. Part of Danger Close: Alaska, a Duty Bound partnership between 49 Writers and the Alaska Humanities Forum bridging the military-civilian divide by uniting veterans, active duty, and non-military civilians in producing high-quality writing.



February 16, 2017
Poetry & Politics | Roger Reeves & Joan Naviyuk Kane
Doors open at 6:30 pm. Event begins at  7 pm
49th State. Brewing Co. Barrell Room West, 717 W 3rd Avenue, Anchorage


October 13, 2016
Tales of the City: Writing from Alaska’s Urban Hubs
5-6:45 pm – Building Fires in the Snow celebratory meet-and-greet at MUSE
7-8:30 pm – Crosscurrents event in the Anchorage Museum auditorium 


Want to propose or suggest a Crosscurrents topic? Contact us.

Past Crosscurrent Events

Ben Percy and Don Rearden
Thursday, April 7, 2016 at 7 pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage, Alaska
Award-winning novelists Ben Percy and Don Rearden discussed writing fiction that tackles big subjects without sacrificing high tension and compelling stories. Both Percy and Rearden have written post-apocalyptic novels that speak to the underpinnings of culture and humanity. They discussed the notion that literary and genre fiction are somehow mutually exclusive, and read from their work.



with Martha Amore, Peter Dunlap-Shol, and Tracy Sinclare, moderated by Liz Meredith
Thursday, March 24 at 7 pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage
The publishing industry is in a constant state of change. It is increasingly difficult to find success at the big New York publishing houses, but other routes to publishing success exist. What factors do writers consider when they seek to see their work in print? Exactly what are the differences between traditional publishing, publishing with a university press, a small press, and self-publishing? Join Martha Amore, Peter Dunlap-Shohl, and Tracy Sinclare as they discuss their experiences bringing books to print. This panel will be moderated by Lizbeth Meredith.
with Benjamin Busch, Eliot Ackerman, Lea Carpenter and Sherry Simpson, moderated by MattKomatsu
Friday, February 5 at 7 pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage
From the National Book Award-winning short story collection Redeployment by Marine Corps veteran Phil Klay, to acclaimed novels written by civilians like Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk; writers are tackling the difficult topic of war and doing it well. But does war as a topic of literature “belong” to veterans any more than it does non-veterans? Is there room for depictions outside of combat? What defines “the experience?”

Join us, to hear and be heard, for a discussion with Sherry Simpson (The Dominion of Bears), Benjamin Busch (Dust to Dust), Elliot Ackerman (Green on Blue) and Lea Carpenter (Eleven Days). These four distinguished authors from both military and civilian backgrounds will share thoughts and answer questions in a Crosscurrents event that will kick off “Danger Close: Alaska,” the state’s first writing workshop aimed at uniting veteran and civilian writers in the production of high-quality literature.
with Ann Eriksson, Gary Geddes and Jeremy Pataky
Tuesday, September 8, 2015 7-8:30 pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage
What do these strange bedfellows have in common? Isn’t politics, like sex, verboten at the dinner table or in polite society? If you think of Canadians as passive or ‘nice,’ here are a couple of writers who don’t hesitate to write about social and political issues, without letting content overwhelm their art and without becoming ideologues or partisans. Ann Eriksson and Gary Geddes are both known for their challenging writing, Ann taking on polluters and the boom-and-bust psychology that depletes and fouls the oceans and clear-cuts the forests, Gary going after the killers at Kent State University, racist and colonial practices in Canada and abroad, and the rise of militarism disguised as peace-keeping.
with Frank Soos, Justin Herrmann, Eowyn Ivey, and Deb Vanasse
Sunday, October 4, 2015 7-8:30 pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage
These are the opening words of a review by Tom Perrotta in the 5/10/15 NY Times Book Review:

“In recent years a number of talented novelists have experienced a sudden and alarming loss of faith in their chosen literary form. David Shields thinks most novels are boring and disconnected from reality. Nicole Krauss is ‘sick of plot and characters and scenes and climax and resolution.’ Rachel Cusk has decided that conventional fiction is ‘fake and embarrassing.’ Karl Ove Knausgaard goes even further, dismissing the entire enterprise: ‘Fictional writing has no value.'”

What is the value of fiction, and have the conventions of fiction worn themselves out? Is nonfiction simply more honest and accurate and a better form for this time?

Thursday, July 23, 2015,  7-8:30 pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage
To commemorate the historic rise of Anchorage from the first sale of town lots in 1915 to Alaska’s largest city in 2015, 49 Writers/49 Alaska Writing Center has published a memoir anthology—Anchorage Remembers—that celebrates the history of Anchorage in the words of those who have lived it. We’ll celebrate the book launch with readings by a selection of anthology authors who reflect on what makes Anchorage such a special place. Books will be available for purchase. This project is made possible by a Centennial Community Grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Rasmuson Foundation, and the Anchorage Centennial Celebration.
Frank Soos, Eva Saulitis, Susanna Mishler, & David Stevenson
Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 7-8:30 pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage
A wide ranging discussion about how writers present themselves on the page in poetry and essay, as opposed to the people they may be in the rest of their lives.

Alaska Writer Laureate Frank Soos taught in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks for 18 years. He is the author of two collections of short fiction and one collection of essays (Bamboo Fly Rod Suite). He is currently selecting from his essays published over the last 25 years for a new collection.

Eva Saulitis is the author of three books of poetry and prose, the most recent being Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss in the Realm of Vanishing Orcas. She has taught creative writing at the Kachemak Bay Campus of UAA for 13 years, and is on the faculty of the UAA Low-Residency MFA Program. She lives in Homer. For the past 24 years, she has studied orcas in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Susanna J. Mishler’s collection of poems, Termination Dust, was published by Boreal Books/Red Hen Press. Her poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Hotel Amerika, The Iowa Review, Kenyon Review Online, Michigan Quarterly Review, RATTLE, and elsewhere. She received an MFA in Poetry from the University of Arizona in Tucson where she also served as a poetry editor of Sonora Review. She lives in Anchorage. Centennial Celebration.

Thursday, February 5, 2015, 7-8:30pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center (W. 7th Avenue entrance)
David Stevenson is the long-time book review editor of The American Alpine Journal. His collection of fiction, Letters from Chamonix, won the Banff Mountain Book Award for Fiction and Poetry in 2014. He directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Andy Hall (Denali’s Howl) joins David Stevenson (Letters from Chamonix) for an onstage conversation about the their processes of creating an engaging narrative in prose. What are the unique affordances and challenges of each genre, and where can writers learn from the strategies employed in other genres?
Monday, October 6, 2014, 7-8:30pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center (W. 7th Avenue entrance)

What is the “real” Alaska? In what ways does our literature define and refine the idea of Alaska in popular culture? Are there ways to confront issues of inclusiveness and diversity in Alaska books and other media?
Monday, April 7, 2014
Wilda Marston Theatre, Z.J. Loussac Library
Luis Urrea talks about how “the border” has defined his life and colored much of his writing. He once said “the border is simply a metapor that makes it easier for me to write about the things that separate people all over the world, even when they think there is no fence.”
March 12, 2014
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
Alaska is a complex state whose people and landscapes are rife with nuance. But writing about Alaska is full of potential pitfalls; we’ve all read the cliches, the simplifications, the overused tropes. Join accomplished essayist Sherry Simpson in conversation with Christine Byl as they discuss what’s beyond the known perimeter of our initial hunches about place, wildness, animals, and how we make our selves on the page and in the world.
February 4, 2014
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
Poets Camille Dungy and Sean Hill discuss what it means to them to write about family, history, community, and the natural world.
November 14, 2013
Anchorage Museum at Ramsuson Center
Alaskan writers Martha Amore, Kris Farmen, and Buffy McKay come together to talk about how they worked as a team to create the novella collection Weathered Edge, each contributing a distinct voice and unique perspective to the creative process. Vered Mares will moderate the discussion of what worked and what didn’t, and why.
September 4, 2013 | Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
Where do stories come from? How does a writer find and survive a story? Join acclaimed novelist and short story writer Ron Carlson (Return to Oakpine, the Signal) and Alaska author Don Rearden (The Raven’s Gift) for a stimulating onstage conversation about the process of discovery in writing fiction.
April 5, 2013 | Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
To what can we attribute the resurgence of interest in the short story, for so long considered to be a “minor form?” Is this a fleeting trend or a real sea change on the literary scene? In this, the 30th Anniversary year of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, we bring together Nancy Zafris, series editor of the Award and a 1990 winner, and 1998 Award Winner Frank Soos to discuss how the short story is faring in our hyper-connected world.
February 19, 2013
Wilda Marston Theatre, Z.J. Loussac Library 
Alaska’s new Writer Laureate, Nora Marks Dauenhauer, joins writer and dramatist Diane Benson for an on-stage conversation that ranges from writing across genres, to Alaska Native women writers, to preserving the oral tradition. 
September 6, 2012 | Wilda Marston Theatre, Z.J. Loussac Library
It’s a 49 Writers tradition that our visiting Tutka Bay Writers Retreat leader also participates in a Crosscurrents event beforehand. This year we are partnering with the Anchorage Public Library and Friends of the Library to bring you an onstage conversation between retreat leader Pam Houston and Alaska writer Heather Lende. When the constraints of nonfiction hamper a good story from our lives, fiction provides a liberating alternative that allows the writer to dramatize and embellish experiences and landscapes, and to protect the identities of characters. But can this approach confuse our contract with the reader, especially when we also write memoir?
April 7, 2012 | Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center Auditorium
Do writers living in an era of cruelty come to their work with a deeper duty? If so, what is the nature of that duty? How should writers engage in the moral struggles of our historical moment, and what risks does such an engagement engender? Join nationally acclaimed author Steve Almond in conversation with local writer David Stevenson, director of UAA’s Creative Writing & Literary Arts program, in this 49 Writers Crosscurrents event.
February 22, 2012 | Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center Auditorium
Debut author Eowyn Ivey (The Snow Child) joins Andromeda Romano-Lax (The Spanish Bow, The Detour) for an onstage conversation about their internationally published novels and their approach to fiction as Alaskan writers. What draw one author to set her fiction in Alaska, while another chooses historic Europe as her backdrop? Which comes first – story or genre, setting or character? How can an imaginary story set decades ago hold up a mirror to the present? Where do fact and fiction meet, and what role does research play? Romano-Lax’s novels have been described as “evocative and lyrical,” “vivid and heartbreaking,” while Ivey’s The Snow Child has been dubbed “an enchanting, transporting tale” and “a remarkable accomplishment.”
October 14, 2011 | Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center Auditorium
In what ways is fiction both timeless and changing? In the age of information, do stories still matter? To what extent is Alaskafiction coming into its own? As part of AlaskaBook Week (Oct. 8-15), join Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction winners Melinda Moustakis (Bear Down Bear North) and Frank Soos (Unified Field Theory, Early Yet) for an onstage conversation about the status and future of fiction both in Alaska and beyond.
August 31, 2011 | Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center Auditorium
Best-selling author Dani Shapiro (Devotion, Black and White, Slow Motion) joins Sherry Simpson (The Accidental Explorer, The Way Winter Comes) for an onstage conversation about the truths and misconceptions that surround memoir writing. Can a rich, dramatic story be paralyzing in its telling? If the writer leaves something out, is she being evasive? What is the writer’s responsibility in truth and fact versus memory?Simpson will moderate this lively discussion with reference to Shapiro’s work, including her recent memoir Devotion, a national bestseller and Today Show “Best Winter Book,” described by Publisher’s Weekly as “absorbing, intimate, direct and profound.” Co-sponsored by the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center and the Copper Whale Inn.
April 1, 2011 | Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center Auditorium
Nationally-acclaimed author and frequent New Yorker contributor Susan Orlean joined Alaska journalist Julia O’Malley for an onstage conversation about people, place, and truth in writing. How does one capture the extraordinary within the ordinary? Which places make the best stories? In what sense are all stories journeys? O’Malley moderated this lively discussion with reference to Orlean’s books The Orchid Thief, The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup, and My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere. A question and answer session and book-signing followed. Co-sponsored by the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Bookstore, the Alaska Travel Industry Association, and the Copper Whale Inn.
January 25, 2011 | Out North Contemporary Art House
Our inaugural Crosscurrents event brings together Alaska writers Nancy Lord, Marybeth Holleman, and moderator Charles Wohlforth as they discuss environmental writing, writing as a form of activism, and their experiences as writers concerned with global oil-reliance and climate change. Co-sponsored by Cook Inletkeeper, the Alaska Center for the Environment, and Prince William Sound Science Center, with books for purchase at the event provided by the UAA Bookstore.

Our thanks go to Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 49th State Brewing Co., and Copper Whale Inn, whose support makes this series possible, and to past partners and sponsors: Alaska Center, Alaska Humanities Forum, Alaska State Council on the Arts, Anchorage Public Library, Anchorage Library Foundation, Friends of the Anchorage Public Library, Cook Inletkeeper, Craig Public Libraries, Douglas Public Library, the Island Institute, Juneau Public Library, Ketchikan Public Library, Kodiak College Library, National Endowment for the Arts, Prince William Sound Science Center, Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Tribal Community House, Tuzzy Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage Campus Bookstore, and the University of Alaska Southeast. Thank you!