Our Mission

Support the artistic development of writers throughout Alaska, foster a writing community, and build an audience for literature.

Our Vision

A vibrant community of Alaskan writers coming together to inspire, create, and share.

Our Values

Creativity | Craft | Culture

Our Beginnings

In today’s world, some brick-and-mortar organizations “go virtual.” The story of 49 Writers is a little different: we started virtual, then went physical, then pulled back to find our happy medium. We’ve come a long ways in a relatively short time.

January 1, 2009
Alaska authors Deb Vanasse and Andromeda Romano-Lax – both lit-bloggers since 2008 – decide, though they’ve never met in person, to merge their blogs into a collaborative effort called 49 Writers (49writers.blogspot.com). They are joined by a growing number of guest-posters and monthly featured authors, as well as active readers, who come forward to add their voices to this growing online community.

January 2010
Deb and Andromeda start offering creative writing workshops and researching the possibility of creating a full-fledged statewide nonprofit Alaska writing center. Throughout the spring, they keep talking with Alaskans and with writing centers outside the state, balancing creative visions with financial and business realities.

April 2010
An unexpected opportunity helps this virtual community become a physical one. 49 Writers, Inc. incorporates and forms a board (with third Director, Jeremy Pataky). The org becomes the proud tenant of a charming lease property at 415 L Street – a facility named “Raven Place” — which serves as a summer VRBO guesthouse, creating revenue to help launch literary programming. On May 1, the main room is used for a creative writing workshop. Over the next three weeks, about three dozen volunteers help renovate and spruce up the facility. On May 22, a ribbon-cutting celebration is held, with Haines author Heather Lende as guest speaker and many Founding Donors in attendance. By the end of its first month, the 49 Alaska Writing Center has earned revenue from paying guesthouse visitors and raised an additional $10,000 from individual donors.

April 28, 2010
49 Writers incorporates as a non-profit.

May 26, 2010
49 Writers receives 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status (ID# 27-2460995).

Summer 2010
The guesthouse does well in its first season, but the landlord decides to sell 415 L Street, with tenancy ending in November. Time for a second draft! The 49 Alaska Writing Center joins forces with Anchorage Historic Properties and moves, on November 1, into their historic 1917 cottage at 645 W. 3rd Avenue, next to Snow Goose Restaurant. A well-lighted classroom, views of Cook Inlet, historic atmosphere — good deal.

Fall 2010
Guest author David Vann leads our first writers’ retreat at Tutka Bay Lodge, a sold-out opportunity to experience both rigorous instruction and a growing feeling of literary community in one of Alaska’s most beautiful places. A few months later, Vann is awarded the French Prix Medici, that country’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize.

The first fall term is launched, with nine courses in Anchorage and two extra courses added to bring library-funded writing clinics, taught by Deb Vanasse, to Sitka and Juneau. Many courses fill and over 100 students are served. Our Board expands with the addition of new board members Don Rearden and Kirsten Dixon.

Winter/Spring 2011
Registration for a new term opens, with new genres and new subjects, including poetry, screenwriting, the graphic novel, and much more. 49 Writers continues to offer a full schedule of workshops in Spring, Summer, and Fall.

January 2012
Linda Ketchum takes over from Deb Vanasse as Executive Director. Co-founders Andromeda Romano-Lax and Deb Vanasse remain involved as instructors, bloggers, and volunteers.·During Linda’s tenure, 49 Writers expands services to Barrow, Craig, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Sitka, Soldotna, and Talkeetna, and establishes regular programming in Juneau. Membership triples in three years.

December 2014
49 Writers awarded first federal grant, from National Endowment for the Arts, for programming in Southeast Alaska.

July 2015
Erin Coughlin Hollowell becomes Executive Director.

May 2016
Founding board member and Board President Jeremy Pataky steps down from the board and accepts an appointment as Interim Executive Director before eventually securing the permanent position.

Summer 2016
We redesigned our website and blog, merging them under one URL, and switch the blog from a blogspot platform to WordPress.