Statewide Alaska Reads Program 2017-18

Fairbanks Arts Association (Fairbanks, AK), in partnership with Alaska Center for the Book (Anchorage, AK), have announced that the featured selection for the 2017-2018 statewide Alaska Reads program is Steam Laundry, by Fairbanks poet Nicole Stellon O’Donnell.

Alaska Reads is a biennial statewide reading program that features a selected publication by a living Alaskan author. The initiative began in 2015 through the efforts of 2015-17 State Writer Laureate, Frank Soos, and aims to build excitement around contemporary Alaskan authors and the stories they tell. This includes engaging libraries across the state, author visits to communities, and online events with the author to reach wider audiences.

“This is truly a statewide effort, with participation from community librarians and bookstores to statewide organizations,” said Jessica Peña, Executive Director, of Fairbanks Arts Association. Already, nearly 400 copies of Steam Laundry have been distributed to more than 40 libraries across the state thanks to a generous grant from the Alaska State Library.

Steam Laundry is Fairbanks poet Nicole Stellon O’Donnell’s history of a Gold Rush family, based on the true story of Sarah Ellen Gibson. This novel in poem form weaves together the voices of Sarah Ellen Gibson and other characters with historical photos and documents to breathe life into Gibson’s odyssey from Dawson City to Fairbanks.

As the inaugural Alaska Reads author, Ernestine Hayes traveled through Alaska from Ketchikan to Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow) leading discussions and reading from her book, Blonde Indian, In 2016.  Hayes’ visits were uniformly well-received, proving a wonderful debut for this exciting new literary program. “Reading events and discussions of Steam Laundry are being organized now. We hope to have Nicole Stellon O’Donnell visit as many communities as she is able in February and March 2018,” said  Peña. “With her background as a teacher, Nicole is a dynamic reader and a wonderfully engaging speaker. ”

Nicole Stellon-O’Donnell

“It’s an honor to have Steam Laundry selected as the Alaska Reads book. I’m looking forward to meeting readers across the state,” said Nicole Stellon O’Donnell. “Writing requires so much time alone at the desk, so it’s exciting to follow the book out into the world and talk to readers.”


Alaska Reads is a program of Fairbanks Arts Association in partnership with Alaska Center for the Book and is funded in part by the Stroecker Foundation, the Alaska State Library, and the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

2 thoughts on “Statewide Alaska Reads Program 2017-18”

  1. Wow! Steam Laundry sounds like quite a ride.
    Ann Chandonnet (43-year Alaskan, now living in Missouri)

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