It has been a momentous week for Alaska literary news, one that has evoked emotions veering from elation one moment to deep sorrow the next.
|Richard Dauenhauer at the 2014 Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities
(photo courtesy of Alaska State Council on the Arts)
The whole literary community is in mourning for Richard Dauenhauer, a modest but extraordinary man who passed away earlier this week. Husband to our current Alaska Writer Laureate, Nora Marks Dauenhauer, and a former Alaska Poet Laureate himself, Dick was primarily known for his work as a historian and linguist, working with Nora over many years to transcribe and translate stories from the Tlingit oral tradition. Many fine tributes to his life and work have followed the news of this loss, including a story by the Juneau Empire and an article in the Alaska Dispatch News.
Dick was a poet too–his latest collection, Benchmarks, was published last year by University of Alaska Press as part of the Alaska Literary Series. A member of 49 Writers, Dick participated with Nora in the regular meetings of our writers group in Juneau. We worked closely together to organize the Crosscurrents event in Anchorage in February last year that featured Nora Marks Dauenhauer in conversation with Diane Benson. In fall 2013, Dick approached us to do an author event in Anchorage en route to AFN, which became a reading featuring them both, graciously hosted by the UAA MFA program. Dick’s poetry reading encompassed an eclectic range of topics, including a spirited recitation of “The Geneology of Beer.” (His dry humor will not be forgotten either.) 49 Writers Juneau board member Joan Pardes speaks for us all when she says, “We extend our sympathy to Nora and the Dauenhauer family on the loss of a great (and exceedingly kind) man.”
Turning to celebration of success, we were thrilled to learn this week that Alaskan women writers featured prominently in the list of finalists for the 2014 Willa awards for Women Writing the West. 49 Writers member Sara Loewen won the Creative Nonfiction award for her beautiful collection of essays, Gaining Daylight: Life on Two Islands (University of Alaska Press). Member and instructor Christine Byl was a finalist in the same category for Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods (Beacon Press). And Fairbanks poet Carolyn Kremers was a finalist for the Poetry award for Upriver (University of Alaska Press). Some of us were lucky to hear all of these wonderful writers read at a special event staged in spring 2013 by the UAA MFA program to mark the publication of these works. We are so proud of their accomplishments!
Two of our members have books forthcoming: congratulations to each of them!
- Lynn Lovegreen has announced the release of her latest young adult/new adult historical romance, Quicksilver to Gold.
- Becky Saleeby’s debut novel, Searching for Isaiah John, will soon be available through CreateSpace (an Amazon independent publishing company).
Next week at this time, look for the announcement of our fall schedule of classes! Meanwhile, registration is open for the free Crosscurrents Southeast creative writing workshops with Sherry Simpson in Juneau (Sept. 20), and Sherry and Ernestine Hayes in Sitka (Sept. 23), Ketchikan (Sept. 25), and Craig (Sept. 27). Juneau and Craig are filling fast, so don’t delay if you want to secure a spot! Thank you to the Alaska Humanities Forum for making this 10-day program possible.
Fall author events at 49 Writers kick off on Thursday, Sept. 11, 7pm, when David Stevenson gives a Reading & Craft Talk at Great Harvest Bread called “Letters from Chamonix: Teasing Fiction from Fact.” We are looking for a Reading & Craft Talk coordinator, so if you’d like to volunteer or want more information, contact Linda Ketchum at 49writers (at) gmail (dot) com.
This year’s Tutka Bay Writers Retreat leader, acclaimed poet Carolyn Forché, is unable to participate in the usual Crosscurrents event in Anchorage due to her tight teaching schedule. We are incredibly fortunate to be bringing her to Alaska for our popular retreat, and all 20 poets and memoirists attending are eager to learn from her. The evening before the retreat Carolyn will give a reading in Homer at the Kachemak Bay Campus, Thursday, Sept. 4, 6:30pm.
Cirque editor, Poetry Parley organizer, and poet (Defiance Street) Sandra Kleven, MFA, made the front page of the Seattle Times this week under the headline “A half-century after high school, Bothell student gets her diploma”–well done, Sandy!
Events in Anchorage and around Alaska
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, 10am-12:30pm, School House Inn, Lake Aleknagik: Yupik Place Names and the Poetry of Place. Tim Troll and Molly Chythlook will share their knowledge of Yupik place names, the first naming of place. Join in a creative writing exercise with poet Wendy Erd. The workshop is free and open to the public. 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 email@example.com.
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.
Wednesday, Sept. 10, 6-8 pm: Kenai Fine Arts Center (816 Cook Drive, Kenai) will host a book release party for Dave Acheson, whose new book, Dead Reckoning, has just been published.
September 11, 5-7pm, UAA Campus Bookstore: All You Need is Love – Forging an Emotional Connection through the Stories we Write and Read. Romance authors Jennifer Bernard, Tam Linsey, Lynn Lovegreen, Miriam Matthews, and DeNise Woodbury come together to read from their books and discuss romance. This event is sponsored with Romance Writers of Alaska.
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.
Beginning Sept. 17, Anchorage essayist and author Bill Sherwonit will teach a 12-week nature and travel writing class beginning Sept. 17, in the Sierra Club office downtown. Participants in this workshop-style class will explore and refine their own writing styles, with an emphasis on the personal essay form. The class will also read and discuss works by some of America’s finest nature and travel writers, past and present. The cost is $240. To sign up for this Wednesday night class (7 to 9:30 p.m.), or for more information, contact Sherwonit at 245-0283 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information about the teacher is also available at www.billsherwonit.alaskawriters.com.
The Rasmuson Foundation has announced its latest round of artists in residence. They include Dipika Guha, a playwright in New York City, who will be in residence at the Island Institute in Sitka. She plans to use the silence and nature of Sitka to continue writing a play, as well as begin a book for a musical. (Nominated by Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside, CA) Please join us in congratulating these artists and welcoming them to Alaska. They arrive for these two-month residencies in mid-September.
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).