Our initial elation at Monday’s news that the months-long prioritization process at UAA has determined that the university should invest more resources in arts, languages, and humanities was quickly overshadowed by their conclusion that the Alaska Quarterly Review is one of the non-academic programs needing “further review, consideration for reduction or phase out.” Say it ain’t so!
Over the last 30 years AQR has established a solid reputation–national and international–as a journal of excellence, becoming an important part of Alaska’s literary heritage. The Washington Post Book World declared it “One of the nation’s best literary magazines,” and Sherman Alexie named AQR “one of the top ten literary magazines in the country.”
Many well-known Alaskan and Outside authors saw their early work published in the pages of the journal (see extensive author index here). Just yesterday, when the latest issue of Granta—American Wild–was delivered to my mailbox, I was delighted to find a new story by Melinda Moustakis, “River So Close,” with the inimitable opening sentence, “She’s a good-for-nothing chummer.” Pure Melinda, pure Alaska. Melinda’s work first appeared in AQR 26 & 28–stories that were later included in her debut collection, Bear Down, Bear North, which went on to win the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award.
If, like us, you are dismayed by this turn of events, you can contact Chancellor Tom Case at email@example.com, cc Renee Carter-Chapman (Senior Vice Provost for Institutional Effectiveness, Engagement, and Academic Support) at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hear that many people are sending letters to the Chancellor and Board of Regents, along with letters to the editor at Alaska Dispatch News. ADN prefers letters less than 200 words sent to email@example.com; longer pieces can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. On Facebook and Twitter, there is now the hashtag #saveaqr if you want to join the online conversation. Another way to show your support is to sign up for a subscription. Members of 49 Writers get a 15% discount–email us at 49writers (at) gmail (dot) com for more information.
Today, Aug. 15, 3pm, Fireside Books in Palmer: Canyons and Ice author, Kaylene Johnson, and the subject of the biography, Dick Griffith, will be at the bookstore to meet readers and sign copies of the story of Dick’s wilderness travels.
Today, Aug. 15, 7pm, Tandem Wine & Dinner Bar: It’s Bothell or Bust! Cirque hits the airways (via large metal plane) to arrive in Bothell, WA, for a reading by some of the great writers of the Pacific Northwest. Joan Swift, once a student of Theodore Roethke, is featured. Christianne Balk, poet, author of Desiring Flight and Thomas Walton, editor of Pageboy, are also on the docket along with a fine group of other writers – see the flyer, below. Cirque editor Sandy Kleven will read from her collection, Defiance Street. In the year ahead (assisted by friends in each destination), Cirque will visit: Seattle, Portland, Bellingham, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Sitka. And, maybe, Missoula. The goal: to darn together the literary communities of our states, toward a cohesive fabric built on creative connections.
Wednesday, Aug. 20, 7-8:30pm, Loussac Library Innovation Lab: The Alaska Writers Guild monthly meeting features Raven’ Gift author Don Rearden talking about “Adapting Your Novel Into a Screenplay.” Don has written several acclaimed films, including Clawed: The Legend of Sasquatch and Skidmarks and taught popular screenwriting classes for 49 Writers.
Saturday, Aug. 23, 11:30am, Lee Goodman, author of Indefensible, will be at Fireside Books in Palmer.
Friday, Aug. 29, 11am, catch Nick Jans (A Wolf Called Romeo) at Palmer’s Fireside Books.
Poems In Place, the statewide project that is putting poems written by Alaskan poets on signs in Alaska’s state parks, invites you to join them to celebrate this year’s poetry dedications at Independence Mine State Historical Park near Palmer and Lake Aleknagik State Recreation Site near Dillingham. All events are free. Poems in Place is supported by Alaska State Parks, Alaska Center For the Book, the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska State Council on the Arts, Alaska Humanities Forum, the Usibelli Foundation, Alaska Poetry League and numerous generous individuals
Saturday, Aug. 30, 11am-1pm. Tom Sexton, Alaska’s poet laureate from 1994 to 2000, the author of several collections of poetry, and the selected poet of this park’s poem-in-place, will give a talk and host a discussion on The Poetry of Place. The talk/discussion is free and open to anyone age 18 or older. Space is limited. Please register in advance. To register or for more information about either event, please email email@example.com.
Saturday, Aug. 30, 2-3 pm: Poems in Place Dedication. Help celebrate the unveiling of the 2014 Poem in Place at Independence Mine State Historical Park. Reading by selected poet Tom Sexton will be followed by refreshments and celebration. All are welcome!,
Saturday, Sept. 6, 2-3pm, Lake Aleknagik Landing: Poems in Place Dedication and Celebration. Please help celebrate the unveiling of the new Poem in Place at Lake Aleknagik State Park. Reading by selected poet Tim Troll to be followed by refreshments and celebration. To register or for more information about either event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, Sept. 8, 5-7pm, UAA Campus Bookstore: Andy Hall presents Denali Howl: The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America’s Wildest Peak, an account of the 1967 Wilcox Expedition, one of the greatest climbing accidents ever to occur on the highest peak of North America. Twelve climbers attempt the ascent and only five return. Andy Hall, the son of the Denali Park Superintendent at the time, offers an intimate look into the young men on a big adventure.
SCBWI Alaska, takes place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Anchorage. This year’s conference will feature nationally acclaimed editors, agents, and authors, as well as local authors and illustrators. Once again they are offering a children’s literarure and illustration track in conjunction with The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Click here for a detailed list of this year’s faculty. Visit the AWG website for more information and to register. Click here for a preliminary conference schedule.
The Alaska Literary Awards, established in 2014 by the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation through a generous gift from Peggy Shumaker and Joe Usibelli, are accepting applications. The Alaska Literary Awards recognize and support writers of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting, screenwriting, and mixed genres. Any Alaska writer over the age of 18 who is not a full-time student is eligible to apply. Quality of the work submitted is the primary consideration in determining who receives the awards. There are no restrictions on the writer’s use of the award and no formal report is required. Application deadline is Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 9:59pm (AKDT).
Remember that the deadline for the Winter Solstice issue of Cirque is approaching: Sept.15 for publication on Dec. 15. Visit www.cirquejournal.com for more information on how to submit and to read the journal full-text.
Nominations for the 2015 Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities are now open. Learn more at the Alaska State Council on the Arts website. The categories are: Arts Education, Native Arts, Arts Organization and Individual Artist. In addition, the Alaska State Council on the Arts’ Literary Advisory Committee will accept nominations for the State Writer Laureate, who will be appointed by the Governor to a two year term (2015-2016).