Peggy Shumaker: From Our State Writer Laureate

Ed. note: Don’t forget that nominations for the next two-year state writer laureate are open until Aug. 31. The nomination form is available here.

What a blast!

Over the last two years, as our state’s writer laureate,
I’ve had the privilege of talking up Alaska’s fine writers here at home and
Outside.  Readers are fascinated with our
people and our places and happy to discover writers new to them.  I made lists of books to recommend.  (The nonfiction list is longest.  Poetry comes next.  Fiction is growing.) 

I’m excited about fresh new voices entering the literary
conversation.  I hope that my
contributions as an editor make a difference for Alaska writers and their

The Alaska LiterarySeries at University of Alaska Press
has three titles newly in print and four more in production: The City Beneath the
, short stories by Marjorie Kowalski Cole; The Cormorant Hunter’s
, poems by Joan Kane; and The Rabbits Could Sing,
poems by Amber Flora Thomas.

Coming soon: Oil and Water, a novel
by Mei Mei Evans; Upriver, poems by
Carolyn Kremers; Gaining Daylight,
nonfiction by Sara Loewen; and Benchmarks: New and
Selected Poems 1963-2013
, by Richard Dauenhauer.

Boreal Books
celebrates these titles: Leaving Resurrection,
nonfiction by Eva Saulitis; Double Moon,
artwork by Margo Klass, writing by Frank Soos; A Measure’s Hush,
poems by Anne Coray; and Steam Laundry, a
novel in poems by Nicole Stellon O’Donnell.

Coming soon: Pause Traveler,
poems by Erin Hollowell, is in press. Later the
House Stood Empty
, poems by Melina Draper, and Termination
, poems by Susanna Mischler are slated for 2014. The Dead Go
to Seattle,
a novel by Vivian Faith Prescott, will come out in 2015. Road Trip,
essays by Mark Rozema, will be published in 2016.

The Alaskan
Writers Directory
is a simple way for all of us to stay in touch.  Check out

We have a vibrant, active, and growing group of
writers in Alaska.  Talking to writers of
all ages around our state has been a marvel. 
From children just learning to make letters to elders talking and
writing their stories, I’ve enjoyed meeting all of you.  Thank you for sharing your words and your

I send special thanks to the booksellers,
librarians, teachers, literacy sponsors, conference and festival organizers,
arts council members and staff, and writers who have eased my way.  I’m grateful.

If you know a writer who would be good for
Alaska’s writers and readers, please consider nominating that person to be the
next Alaska State Writer Laureate.  The form is simple.  Just make sure the
writer is willing and able.  

Each writer laureate is allowed to design his or
her own projects.  John Straley worked
with at-risk youth.  Ann Hanley wrote
columns featuring Alaska writers.  Nancy
Lord worked with communities and libraries.  

As my term finishes, I’m looking forward to
community visits in Nome and Kotzebue in September.  At the Governor’s Awards for the Arts and
Humanities on October 18, I’ll pass the baton to the next Alaska State Writer

Then in November, several nonfiction writers from
Alaska will join me and writers from around the globe for NonfictioNow in
Melbourne, Australia.

After that, I get a few weeks rest before I start
promoting my new book, Toucan Nest,
poems of Costa Rica (Red Hen Press, 2013). 
I just got my first glimpse of the page design!    

Please stay in touch.  My site is

Exuberant THANKS to everyone who supports writers
and readers in our state.

we’re lucky in Alaska to have strong support for the arts in general and for
writing in particular.  In Kansas, the
governor abolished the state arts council. 
Arizona is just now trying to establish a position for a poet
laureate.  Many states face terrible
budgets, and the arts are deeply vulnerable. 

**Please say thanks to elected officials who
support the arts–with words and with votes. 

1 thought on “Peggy Shumaker: From Our State Writer Laureate”

  1. Thank you, Peggy! You're the best advocate the literary arts could have had. Your grace and graciousness know no bounds!

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