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Two Poets Talking

What Turtle Blood Tastes Like - Tue, 05/24/2016 - 10:10am

One of my favorite poets, David Budbill has been dealing with rapidly declining health lately and while the conversations I’ve had with him over the years have been marked by a striking optimism, the challenges of being a writer who is losing the physical ability to write are becoming too much for even the most optimistic and zen of mountain recluse poets.   Here’s a recent conversation between Budbill and longtime friend, David French.  HIt the link for the full conversation, http://www.davidbudbill.com/1500/a-conversation-with-david-budbill

David French’s questions and comments are in italics. Unless otherwise indicated, all the poems are David Budbill’s.

But let’s talk about what’s happening in your life right now.

The major thing that I’m dealing with is my Parkinson’s disease, my rare form of Parkinson’s disease. It has incapacitated me and made me incapable of all the things I used to love to do: I would cut wood and garden and mow, and I can’t do any of those anymore. So I’ve had to revise my life completely. So far I haven’t revised my life; I’ve just cancelled it, dropped out.

Now that’s not entirely true, because before I dropped out, I was able to finish a novel and a short story and a collection of poems, and they’re all coming out in the next year. So I did that before I cancelled my life.

The last time I was here, you said all this happened a year ago, when you moved to Montpelier.

True.

Up until then, you’d still been working on your novel and your stories and your poem.

I suppose, yeah.

There recently was a song cycle of your poems at the Elley-Long Music Center. One song was about doing things for the last time. It was beautiful, but with an ache to it. You must have done a lot of that leaving Wolcott, walking around, looking around, knowing that was the last time you’d cut this wood or stack it or put it in the stove.

It was. Yeah, it was heartbreaking, because that was my identity, and now it’s no longer that. Which is no doubt one of the reasons I’m in limbo now.

So you’re not writing now.

No, I’m not.

You’re not making music.

No.

Another theme that keeps coming up in your poetry, sometimes in very funny ways, is the lament over not having been a major voice in the poetry world. You wrote about the life of “genteel poverty and meditation” you lead:

…which gives me lots of time

to gnash my teeth and worry over

how I want to be known and read

by everyone and have admirers

everywhere and lots of money!

Is that something you would still write a poem about at this point, or is that an old theme that isn’t something you think about anymore?

I certainly think about it.

You still do?

Yeah.

You would like to be higher on whatever the poetry best-seller list is?

Yeah.

And have more money from it, recognition.

Yeah. Of course, who wouldn’t?

You’ve written:

When I came to Judevine Mountain

I thought

all my troubles would cease,

but I brought… my ambition –

so now, still,

all I know is grief.

Well, that’s true. I have this thing about ambition. I can’t live with it, and I can’t live without it.

 


Filed under: Poetry
Categories: Arts & Culture

Brendan Jones | Fifteen Notes on Writing (& Other Things)

49 Writers - Tue, 05/24/2016 - 8:38am
  1. A few weeks back a friend went out on a kayak and didn’t return. The fire department found his boat in a bed of kelp. He had gone out at ten in the evening in the wind and rain. I was in Wrangell when it happened. I confirmed his photo for the radio station. Painted the side of my boat while Mountain Rescue searched.
  2. You need to do a fishermen’s reading, says the town vet. Not for the hoi-polloi. Trollers are the most discerning readers out there. They’re waiting for the snubbers to go off, out on the 60-fathom line, and so they read. And they’re either hooked by the story or they aren’t. The most honest critics you can get. But let me read the book first. I can tell you if I’ll recommend it.
  3. The deputy clerk in the town where I live signs her name in an elfin font. A witchy font. I like this.
  4. The kayak was returned by the fire department wrapped in plastic.
  5. Recently, while writing an article on surfing in Alaska, I got blowback. About the possibility of revealing breaks that folks in the Lower 48 might ruin. Horseshit, said another surfer. There are so many variables you need to line up, you’d need to be a goddamn meteorologist to catch a wave around here. I continue to struggle with this.
  6. At two pm tomorrow I’m bringing in my dog to get his teeth cleaned by the vet. I hope he likes the book.
  7. A friend wishes to fill the kayak with concrete and set it upright on a beach, just off the kelp bed.
  8. Charter and commercial fishermen used to be like the Montagues and Capulets in this town, the simmer of winter boiling over into spring shouting matches. I’ve taken flack for housing charter deckhands on the tugboat, albeit good-humored. Kind of. Bumper stickers read “I’d rather have a daughter in a whorehouse than a son on a charter boat.” “Charter Nazis.” And so forth. But these days don’t seem so bad.
  9. Speaking of bumper stickers, the other day I saw one in the harbor parking lot that read “BUY GUNS/BUY BOOKS.” I wonder why the enjambment? I almost would rather, “BUY GUNS BUY BOOKS like there was some continuity between the two. But there’s not. No matter how much one hopes.
  10. I’m using this time with the family away to work on a second novel. I realize now what a pain in the ass I was to friends and writers who weren’t friends, just asking them at the drop of a hat to read. How destructive it is to the process. Just shut up write. There’s nothing worse than a whiny writer. Nothing.
  11. Charter fishermen don't care about their wake, I can tell you that much. I just got rocked against the bull-rail three times in a row. Peeked out the porthole, a parade of charter boats.
  12. A couple months ago in the Wrangell shipyard I met a man, short with gray whiskers, who looked like a thin Elmer Fudd. “I’ll trade boats with you,” he said, looking at the tugboat. I wasn’t sure if he was joking. In fact I’m still not. The following day he crashed into the side of a mountain on Admiralty Island.
  13. Next week I’m going to Homer, then Anchorage, then Juneau for readings of The Alaskan Laundry. I am excited about this. Also for a wedding in Homer. Alaska weddings are the best. And this couple is very, very in love.
  14. I don’t know how to understand things except by writing about them. It’s always been that way.
  15. Just shut up and write.
____________________________________________________Brendan Jones is the author of the novel The Alaskan Laundry, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. A recipient of a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Fundacion Valparaiso, and Ragdale, he is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He has had work in the New York TimesPloughsharesNarrative MagazinePopular WoodworkingThe Huffington Post, and has recorded commentaries for NPR. Raised in Philadelphia, he took the Greyhound west at the age of 19, ending up in Sitka, Alaska. He graduated from Oxford University, where he boxed for the Blues team, then returned to Alaska to commercial fish. He was a general contractor for seven years in Philadelphia, before heading back to Sitka, where he now lives, commercial fishing and renovating a WWII tugboat. | www.alaskanlaundry.com
Categories: Arts & Culture

Jeremy Pataky | Our Creative Community

49 Writers - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 11:36am
I left McCarthy late last week, Juneau-bound for 49 Writers meetings. With other stops along the way, it’s proven to be an inspiring whirlwind. I head back to the Wrangells filled up by this huge place full of creative, hardworking artists, where even the distances that separate us are wild and beautiful.
I arrived in Anchorage afterthe release party for the latest issue of Alaska Quarterly Review, featuring full-color reproductions of Kes Woodward paintings paired with poems by Peggy Shumaker. I also missed the release party for Made of Salmon, an anthology that Nancy Lord edited, which hit bookshelves about the same time the first kings hit the Copper River delta.  
Joan Naviyuk Kane honored with a
2016 Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award
I did make it to the awards ceremony honoring the 2016 Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award winners, though. 36 artists representing 11 communities in Alaska were chosen from over 400 applications. Literary artists honored that night included Christy NaMee Eriksen, Bryan Fierro, Joan Naviyuk Kane, and Seth Kantner. Visual artist Don Decker, this year’s Distinguished Artist, gave a touching speech that spoke well to the richness of a creative life. Patrick Race’s short film about him is likely of interest to artists across disciplines. I attended the awards ceremony with a former IAA winner, a visual artist. Often, I think I learn as much about looking, seeing, and making from artists as I do from other writers.   
First thing Friday morning, I joined board president and writer (and Made of Salmoncontributor) Kirsten Dixon, and we left a soggy Anchorage. The sunny weather we found down in the state capitol belied the legislature’s failure to pass a budget after the four month regular session that had just ended. Fortunately, our org’s own governance isn’t taking cues from the State.
Amy O’Neill Houckshuttled us to Joan Pardes’ home for an entire day spent strategizing and planning. I’ll save the spoilers for later, but suffice it to say, it was highly productive time well spent. We wrapped the day up meeting with Juneau members in an informal meet-n-greet. The nearly-full moon, one night shy of “blue”, and exquisite, fleeting alpenglow stopped us in our tracks when we stepped outside after dinner.   
The next night in Anchorage, gearing up to boomerang back to McCarthy, I enjoyed another dinner with writerly folks—this one hosted by Olena Kalytiak Davis. Though thoroughly enjoyable and delicious, the night was tinged with a bittersweetness, knowing that it would be the last time we gathered before poets and teachers Alyse Knorr and Kate Partridge leave Alaska soon. Both have been incredible members of the 49 Writers community – as instructors, volunteers, and more – and they’ll be missed. Maybe Olena and Jonathan J. Bowerand I can Skype them in next time (I jokes). Still, pre-emptive nostalgia aside, it’s been a privilege to share time and space with them at all, and if it’s one thing we Alaskans have figured out, it’s navigating vast geographies. I know they’ll maintain ties with Alaska’s literary community. It’s also a reminder that our writerly community actually extends far beyond the bounds of the state itself.   
I’m grateful for the communities that thrive here—or at least survive, stubbornly or otherwise. I’m heading back out past the end of the road knowing the camaraderie of time well spent with other poets, writers, and artists will be folded into the time I spend alone. That solitude—and the work accomplished therein—is sweetened by all the people inside it.Sandy Beach, Douglas Island
Categories: Arts & Culture

Learning to Appreciate City Life Through Live Music

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 7:07am

Tulsa’s 3rd Annual Hop Jam (in the Brady Arts District downtown) Festival Map — Sunday, May 21, 2016

A block up the street from my north-facing window is a freeway with a billboard promoting all the art and music support in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Believe it or not, there are 40 art organizations in Tulsa with only a population of 200k.)  In large letters the billboard reads something like “A pART town” etc. etc… After living downtown in the Brady Arts District for the past five months, where there’s art throughout and live music 6 days/ week, I truly feel a “y” ought to be added with down right acknowledgement and no shame, so it reads like this:  “A pARTy town!”  How does a country-girl artist like myself who does quiet, meditative art, survive living smack dab in the middle of a pARTying city!?  Well, there’s the old saying that in my case is past tense:  it’s way bigger than me to beat, so I joined ‘em!   I am not interested in beer, or alcohol for that matter; but the music?  Well, there’s nothing like really good, live, danceable music!  The Hop Jam provided just that!

Early morning volunteers haul big coolers to the designated tents of beer vendors on Main Street of Tulsa’s 3rd Annual Hops Jam

Yesterday was Sunday.  I woke up to the sounds of semi-trucks being unloaded; just after the crack of dawn at 6:30, volunteers began setting up for Tulsa’s 3rd annual Hop Jam.  Three blocks down Main Street and a block over have been blocked off for this big street party.  I’m glad I had one day’s notice to prepare my work day for a distracting day of beer vendors from all over the country and beyond, with live music blasting through layers of cement like only sound can do.  There’s no way I can Chilkat weave on days like yesterday.  So I set up my printing/shrinkwrapping area and got down on it!  I have learned to adapt to the consistent noise of city living.  Here’s how:

In downtown Tulsa, Sunday is one of two days that is fairly quiet; I’ll let you guess the other.  This past week, the outdoor stage venue across the street hosted 3 full nights of 3 different bands per night; and they were pretty dang good in comparison to what I’ve heard the past 5 months!  They play until 1:30am, sometimes 2am.  How have I adapted my work/sleep schedule?  I have learned that no matter how hard I try to sleep in, I am awake by 6, no later than 7am.  I work from 8am to about midnight, with a cat nap in mid-afternoon, after which I am good to go for another 6 to 9 hours.  With all the active pARTy-ers outside hanging to the grooving bands, the only way I can go to sleep is to work, work, work late until I can no longer think, and I drop exhausted with the blasting music finally drifting off into my subconscious dream time where I don’t care whether or not the band sounds good any more!  I calculate I get 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night from 2 to 6am on Tuesdays through Saturdays.   On Sunday and Monday nights, I get 6 hours.  That’s good enough; I ain’t complainin’.

Same street as the above photo…just a few hours later…

Growing up in rural Alaska, there are many things we miss out on, especially those of us born and bred in small, land-locked communities, which is most of the state except Anchorage and Fairbanks.   Concerts of big name musicians/singers are one of those things we don’t experience so what we don’t experience won’t hurt us, right?  We don’t know any better.  Well, not until we grow up and actually go to a concert by a real famous person(s)!   In less than two months, just before my 60th birthday, I have gone to two concerts, one by intention, Van Morrison, and the other I stumbled across last night, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, right here in the Brady Arts District of downtown Tulsa.   I am spending a year doing things, I have NEVER done!  Attending concerts of big-name musicians is one of them!

Tulsa’s Hop Jam program guide lists all the beer vendors

We’ve been told that during the Spring/Summer/Fall time in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District, there is live music every weekend at the Guthrie Green (just a block over) and even throughout the week in various bars or restaurants.  During this past month, all of us artists-in-residents are getting an earful, and from what we’ve been told, we haven’t heard nothing yet!   The “pARTy” is just getting warmed up along with the weather!

From the top of the northerly part of Main Strait looking 3 blocks to the band stand (in the distance shown in turquoise.).

After a productive day indoors printing the last of my edition of “An Ocean Runs Through Us”, I decided it was time to go mingle amongst the beer-drinking crowd; there were a few thousand people out there by mid-afternoon!  I took photos intended for this blog post, if nothing else.  And then I listened to a couple of bands.  I thought the bands were local boys, like most of the bands I’ve heard in this part of town.  I even thought “wow, these dudes act and sound like they are professionals…”  And then funny me, I discovered they ARE professionals!  Hello!?!?

The two bands I totally enjoyed were the “X Ambassadors” and (especially) “Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.”  I gravitate towards bands that have great vocals and harmonies of which both bands employed.  Edward’s Sharpe’s band has 12 musicians; more than half of them sing which adds to a wonderful listening experience.  If you guys don’t know the sounds of Edward Sharpe and his band, then get onto YouTube, and introduce yourself to a great band — you’ll recognize their sound cuz the’ve been on the radio the past several years.   I’m a new fan!  They have combined the sounds of Appalachia, gospel, rock and roll, jazz with that touch of spiritual sharing of the human heart blasted with the energy of youth!  Here’s a link from KEXP radio station in Seattle where they play a bit subdued cuz they’re in a radio station studio, though nevertheless with heart and soul; please listen through the last song they play on this video clip; it’s so sweet:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Qvi9gjRwKk  

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros closing song on stage at Tulsa’s Hop Jam Beer and Music Festival 2016

Last night, after Edward Sharpe’s band ended, I walked with great appreciation back through the dwindling thickness of the crowd and I noticed I was amongst people who were no where near my age; they were all younger than my youngest daughter!!!  LOL.  In the dark, we all look the same age, but when we are out in the light,…hahahaha!  If anything, I think I have just started to enjoy my city life surroundings.  With all this music everywhere, I am reminded that I totally enjoy live music no matter what genre.  It is in this enjoyment that allows me to make the best of my city living conditions.  I have to adapt so I can survive, so I can continue doing what I damn well love doing!  It’s all good…I’m getting into the groove of city living via live music!  Halleluia!

 

 

 

 

Categories: Arts & Culture

Weekly Roundup of Writing Opportunities for May 20

49 Writers - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 5:00am
EVENTS IN ANCHORAGEBook Signing | Friday, May 20, 1-3 pm, Alaska Geographic bookstoreToklat In Trouble, by Libby Hatton, a children’s picture book about a wolf pup in Denali National Park, will be launched with a book signing at Alaska Geographic’s bookstore on Ship Creek Ave, next to the Bridge Restaurant and the ULU Factory. Toklat is an adventuresome pup who learns about life’s hazards in a national park. The book was written with concerns about the dropping wolf numbers in Denali, it was illustrated with the intent to replace the out-of-date big bad wolf image with a lovable character living in a wondrous and treasured place.
Monday, June 6 at 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM at UAA BookstoreAuthors Bonnye Matthews, C.M. McCoy, Steven Levi, Sharon Emmerichs and Alyse Knorr share their work in various literary genres, including prehistoric fiction, mystery, fantasy, romance and poetry.
Bear StoriesThursday, June 9, evening show, time TBA at Bear Tooth TheatrepubMusic by Todd Grebe & Cold Country | Tickets: $12, available May 24Hosted by the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA) with Arctic Entries volunteers and Bear Tooth. Proceeds benefit bear conservations.
EVENTS AROUND ALASKAFAIRBANKSThe Fairbanks Arts Association is the host of the oldest Literary Reading in the State. Every month, the public is treated to writers reading their own work and a community meet-up where people can connect with other lovers of literature. Readings are held on the day after First Friday, usually the first Saturday of the month at 7 pm. Most reading are held in the Bear Gallery in Pioneer Park, although occasionally in the summer (June, July, and August) the weather is beautiful reading are held outside to another spot in Pioneer Park. Upcoming: June 4: Community Writers Group and Alaska Writers Guild July 9: Nicole Stellon O’DonnellAugust 6: Paul GreciSeptember: UAF Faculty ReadingOctober: TBANovember: TBADecember: Rosemary McGuireAdditional readings and literary events may be held, but the First Saturday Literary Reading Series will always be at 7 pm the day after First Friday (Except February). 
DENALI PARKCommunity Series at Denali Education Center | The Community Series is a collection of events throughout the summer that promote the arts and sciences featuring artists, naturalists, musicians, workshops, lectures, films and educational programs. Many programs are free. All are held in the Charles Sheldon Center, a post and beam building constructed and maintained with countless hours of volunteer effort. More info
First, Earth! An Homage to Edward Abbey, Margaret Murie, and Charles SheldonWednesday, June 1 at 7:00 pm | A writer’s reading about how authors Edward Abbey, Margaret Murie, and Charles Sheldon influenced how we think about and experience “wild-ness”. Join writers Sean Prentiss (Finding Abbey), Erica Watson, Christine Byl (Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods), and Tom Walker (Denali Journal) as they read excerpts of their work and discuss those who influenced it.
The National Parks: 100 Years of American Splendor withKim HeacoxSunday, June 26 at 7:00 pm | Celebrate 100 years of America’s National Parks with award winning author, photographer, and DEC writer in residence, Kim Heacox. He will discuss his collaboration with National Geographic and the National Park Service and his new book The National Parks: An Illustrated History.
Contemporary Alaskan Writing with Frank SoosMonday, July 11 at 7:00 pm | Join author of short stories and essays Frank Soos, as he discusses contemporary Alaskan writing. He will highlight a selection of fiction writers, essayists, and poets, some who will be familiar to visitors, but many unknown and well worth seeking out and reading.

SOUTHCENTRAL, MAT-SU, KENAI PENINSULA

49 Writers is pleased to partner with the Machetanz Arts Festival at the Mat-Su College on June 4 and 5 to facilitate six writing workshops and two panel discussions. Register today!
Full schedule: Saturday, June 4, 2016Session I (9:30 – 11:30 am)Julie LeMay | Finding Yourself in a PoemWhile focusing on poetic techniques like metaphor and repetition, this workshop will use writing exercises to create poems about the self. Whether you’re a beginning or experienced poet, you’ll find this workshop a playful approach to getting some poems on the page. Open to all levels. 
Session II (12:30 – 2:30 pm)Alyse Knorr | How Shall I Begin? Starting Your Piece with a Bang How do writers keep readers reading? What’s the best way to begin your short story, novel, memoir, or poem to set the mood, establish themes, and introduce conflict? This workshop will explore the art of beginnings, introductions, and first words. We will look at some top-notch examples, work through craft exercises, and finish class with several new beginnings and approaches to beginnings!
Session III (2:45 – 4:45 pm)Don Rearden | The Sphere of WritingLearn how to advance your fiction and nonfiction to the next level by giving your writing a 360-degree transformation. In this workshop you'll be guided through a series of fun writing prompts that will help you understand and see the world your characters live in a new light. Learn how to craft complex and detailed environments and watch your characters come to life within their new realm of existence.
Panel Discussion (5 – 6:30 pm)Panel: Julie LeMay, Alyse Knorr, Don Rearden | "You've Written Something, Now What?" You’ve written your masterpiece, now what? This panel will explore the different ways to get feedback on your written work and how to decide where to submit your work for publication. We’ll discuss literary journals, agents, developmental editors, and all the behind-the-scenes work you need to accomplish between your first draft and getting your words in front of readers.
Sunday, June 5, 2016Session I (9:30 – 11:30 am)Lynn Lovegreen | Playing With DescriptionGood writers use description to set the scene or reveal character. We’ve all read a great line or sentence that describes perfectly, or cringed when a writer does too much or not enough. But how do we do that effectively? This workshop will explore description through reading and discussing examples, playing around with writing exercises, and finding what works for the writer in a specific audience, genre, and style.
Session II (12:30 – 2:30 pm)Martha Amore | Capturing Character: The Mechanics of Writing Great Characters in Fiction and NonfictionWhether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, crafting complex and emotionally moving characters is critical to a successful piece of writing. This workshop focuses on how to develop your characters while advancing your story.
Session III (2:45 – 4:45 pm)Susanna Mishler | Walking the LineWhat exactly is a poetic line made of? What difference does it make where the line "breaks"? In this workshop participants will examine lines by contemporary English-language poets that are used to achieve very different effects. We will also experiment with lineation strategies and types with in-class exercises. Our exercises and guided discussion will help illuminate what makes a strong poetic line, and how an understanding of poetic lines can enhance our own writing and reading. Suitable for poets and prose writers, as well as readers, who would like to broaden their knowledge of poetic craft.
Panel Discussion (5 – 6:30 pm)Panel: Lynn Lovegreen, Susanna Mishler, Martha Amore | Writing About Alaska Without MooseHow do you write authentically about a place that has inspired so much clichéd literature? We’ll explore how to develop written work imbued with place that doesn’t descend into overly-familiar themes and images.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR WRITERSJOBSThrough the AmeriCorps Vista program, Anchorage Public Library is hiring a summer associate at the Z. J. Loussac Library to promote summer reading and work with teen volunteers. Summer Associates will:• Recruit, train, and supervise volunTEENs (volunteers between 12 and 18 years of age)• Develop team building and training opportunities for volunTEENs to supplement their community service to the library• Promote summer reading celebration to youth from birth to age 18, including signing up kids and distributing prizes• Assist library staff with summer reading celebration programs and other library programs• Assist library staff with special projectsCompensation for Summer Associates:• A bi-weekly living allowance of $568.32• A $1,174.60 education award upon completion of the full term of service (or a smaller cash award)• Summer Associates will serve from 5/24/2016 to 7/30/2016• Eligible applicants will have a high school degree (or equivalent) and be 19 years of age by 5/23/2016. To apply, please go to https://my.americorps.gov | The direct listing is here.
AWARDSLiterary, literacy award nominations due May 31Nominations are being accepted for 2016 Contributions to Literacy in Alaska (CLIA) Awards. The program is a statewide effort to recognize people and agencies who support literature and literacy in the north. The awards, presented by Alaska Center for the Book annually since 1993, honor individuals and institutions who have made a significant contribution to literacy efforts, to the literary arts, or preservation of the written or spoken word in Alaska. Past winners include librarians, teachers, writers, tutors, learning programs, volunteers and others dedicated to making the world a better place through the gift of language. Last years’ winners were historian Dee Longenbaugh of Juneau: Barrow author Debby Dahl Edwardson; Dr. Edna McLean of Anchorage, author of an Inupiaq-English dictionary; and “Alaska Spirit of Reading,” a literacy program based in Sitka. Although the initial deadline was in April, the deadline has been extended to May 31. Nomination forms are available on-line at Alaska Center for the Book’s web site or by calling 907-786-4379.
Awards will be presented in July during the University of Alaska’s Northern Renaissance Arts and Sciences reading series, held in conjunction with UAA’s MFA program in Creative Writing.
Alaska Center for the Book is Alaska’s affiliate to the Library of Congress Center for the Book. The non-profit, all-volunteer board partners with literary, educational, arts and humanities organizations to host and sponsor events across the state, including Reading Rendezvous, Alaska Reads, Poems in Place, Letters About Literature and more. Contact: Carol Sturgulewski (907) 764-1604
CALLS Seeking Storytellers | On the evening of Thursday, June 9, the International Association for Bear Research and Management is hosting a Bear Storytelling Night at the Bear Tooth Theatrepub. The format will be inspired by Arctic Entries. The theme for the show is bears: bear encounters, bear lessons, bear observations, bear obsessions, bear ANYTHING. Bear biologists, Alaskans of all ages, visitors, anyone who has a good bear tale – are welcome to tell us their best bear stories! Arctic Entries volunteers will help with story selection and story coaching for the show. 
This event will feature seven storytellers who will be selected based on the range of stories submitted – from the funny to the scary, adorable to the bizarre, and everything in between. Once a story is submitted, they will follow up either in person, on the phone, or through email. Arctic Entries volunteers will work with you on developing the story, fleshing out the parts that elicit a range of reactions from the audience, and finding a storytelling technique that works for you. 
They provide assistance with stage fright. Submit stories to submityourbearstory@gmail.com. Include your name, email address, and phone number along with your story pitch.  
Edible Alaska seeks writers and photographers | A new magazine focused on food culture and practices in Alaska, will hit the newsstands in June. Currently they are getting ready to launch their website with lots of new content. They seek writers, photographers, recipe writers, and local chefs (who want to be a resource to them). 
Article pitches should fall (loosely) into the categories: eat, drink, and food for thought. Web articles will be between 250-400 words and will pay about $50 per piece and an additional $25 for an accompanying photograph. The rate is somewhat negotiable for more experienced writers/photographers and for longer pieces. 
They seek original recipes that can include your standard recipe and a "how-to" video. They are not looking for another profile about a great microbrewery or reviews of well-known restaurants. They want to expand what people know and think about food (and food culture) in Alaska while creating an archive of food practices throughout the state (both urban and rural).
Please email your pitch to bree@edibleak.com with the subject line: Edible Article Pitch.  Please include in your pitch sample writing clips, if you have any. The magazine is particularly interested in recruiting writers from outside of Anchorage and writers who live in rural/bush areas of the state.  Don't let a lack of writing experience deter you from pitching a story, they are interested in cultivating new writers who have great stories to share.”
Alaska Magazine seeks pitches from new and established writers. | They are a publication for Alaska enthusiasts and need a wide variety of articles. The best section to break into the magazine is KtoB (formerly Ketchikan to Barrow), which includes everything from cool job profiles to End of the Trail obituaries to a short write up about an Alaska-made product. They’d also like to see queries about culture, history, nature, interviews with Alaskans and feature articles ideas. Review recent hard copy issues of Alaska magazine and visit www.alaskamagazine.com to learn more, and then send short, descriptive pitches to freelance contributing editor Susan Sommer at sbsommer@mtaonline.net.
13 Chairs Literary Journal out of JBER seeks short stories and poetry from new and emerging authors, as well as volunteers. To learn more, read the current issue, or submit, visit 13chairs.com or email or info@13chairs.com.   CONFERENCES, RETREATS & RESIDENCIESThe fifteenth Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference will be held on June 10-14 in Homer. This year's keynote is Pulitzer Prize winning, National Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, who will be joined by Miriam Altshuler (agent), Dan Beachy-Quick, Richard Chiappone, Jennine Capó Crucet, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Forrest Gander, Lee Goodman, Richard Hoffman, Erin Coughlin Hollowell, Sarah Leavitt, Nancy Lord, Jane Rosenman (editor), Peggy Shumaker, Sherry Simpson, Frank Soos, and David Stevenson. For more information and to register go to the website
49 Writers members get creative at Tutka Bay LodgeRegister now for the 2016 Tutka Bay Writers Retreat, a 49 Writers program which will take place on September 9-11th at the fantastic Tutka Bay Lodge. Faculty instructor award-winning writer Debra Magpie Earling will lead fiction writers in an in-depth writing workshop. Emphasizing in-class writing supportiveness, collegiality, and constructive atmosphere, the engaged student will emerge with improved techniques for further work. Early registration fee is $600 for members and $650 for nonmembers. Learn more and register.
The sixth annual North Words Writers Symposium will be held May 25-28 in Skagway. Novelist/essayist/editor and storyteller supreme Brian Doyle of Portland, Oregon (Mink RiverThe PloverMartin Marten, and the forthcoming Chicago) will be the 2016 keynote author. He will be joined by Alaskan authors Kim Heacox, Eowyn Ivey, Heather Lende, Lynn Schooler, John Straley, and Emily Wall.Learn more and register
Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop's Riversong float trip July 20-26, 2016 in beautiful McCarthy, Alaska and the surrounding Wrangell St. Elias National Park & Preserve. 
This year's workshop features a dynamic staff including poet, essayist and singer/songwriter David Lynn Grimes; professional singer/songwriter Michelle McAfee; visual artist, writer, and songwriter Robin Child; and longstanding workshop director, poet, and essayist Nancy Cook.  The workshop will include two nights and a full day of craft sessions at the Wrangell Mountains Center in McCarthy, followed by a four night educational float trip along the Kennicott, Nizina, Chitina, and Copper Rivers of South-central Alaska.   $975 includes all meals, instruction, and guided river trip with McCarthy River Tours & Outfitters.  (And yes, that's an amazingdeal!)  Check out the smiles in last year's Riversong album, or paddle on over to the Wrangell Mountain Center's website to register.  Workshop limited to eight student writers/songwriters.  Register now!  
Thank You for Your Support!Over 10,000 people read the blog each month. The blog is made possible by 49 Writers members, along with all of the workshops, author tours, Crosscurrents events, readings, and craft talks we offer. Won't you join them by becoming a member or renewing your membership? Join Us 49 Writers Volunteer SetaHave news or events you'd like to see listed here? Email details to 49roundup (at) gmail.com. Your message must be received by noon on the Thursday before the roundup is scheduled to run. Unless your event falls in the "Opportunities" category, it should occur no more than 30 days from when we receive your email.

Categories: Arts & Culture

Gov. Walker Announces Youth Writing Contest Winners

49 Writers - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 11:06am
Props to a pair of young writers today whose essays won a statewide ferry-naming contest! Alaska statute mandates that our Alaska Marine Highway ferries be christened after one of the state’s 745 named glaciers. Nice work, Malea and Taylor! 
Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Mallott Skyping with Malea and TaylorJUNEAU – Governor Bill Walker and Lt. Governor Byron Mallott announced the names yesterday of Alaska’s two new ferry vessels. They thanked Tanalian School 7th grader Malea Voran of Port Alsworth and Eagle River High School 10th grader Taylor Thompson of Eagle River for the winning entries naming the Alaska Class ferries the Tazlina and the Hubbard. 
In January, the Governor called on Alaska students to submit essays on potential names for the vessels. The two ferries are being built at the Vigor Alaska shipyard in Ketchikan after the Alaska Legislature appropriated funding for the projects in 2009 and 2012. Upon completion in 2018, the ferries will provide day boat service between Juneau, Haines, and Skagway – also known as the North Lynn Canal region.
In all, 448 6th through 12th graders submitted essays to name the two new vessels.
“Benny Benson was 13 years old when he won the contest to design Alaska’s flag. Similarly, these students are leaving their mark on history by helping name the two most recent additions to our fleet of Alaska Marine Highway System vessels,” said Governor Walker. “I’m inspired by all the students who took the time to submit an essay, and I congratulate Malea and Taylor for their award-winning entries.”
In her essay, Malea Voran explained that Tazlina, an Ahtna Athabaskan name meaning “swift river,” is an appropriate name for a ferry, which should be named after something swift and agile. “This name would remind us that even small things are capable of doing big things. This small boat could be named after something big and inspiring,” Malea wrote.
Taylor Thompson wrote her essay on the Hubbard Glacier, which, unlike most glaciers, has been thickening and advancing into Disenchantment Bay for over a century. “This glorious slab of ice has defied its predisposition and proved to be a true wonder. An Alaskan ferry should be just as incredible,” Taylor wrote.
“Alaska’s ferry system plays a vital role in our economy and many coastal communities throughout the state,” said Lt. Governor Mallott. “It was an honor to read so many thoughtful, heartfelt essays from participants, and to include the voices of our young people in such a historic decision. These students’ ideas and vision for our state will forever be on display for future Alaskans who ride on the Tazlina and Hubbard ferries.”
Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Mallott surprised the two students with the news their essays had won while Skyping into their classes today from Juneau. Upon completion of construction and approval by the Legislature, the two new Alaska Class ferries will officially be named the Tazlina and the Hubbard–with the winning essays framed and displayed on the respective vessels.
Links to the winning essays:
“The Tazlina”, Malea Voran, Port Alsworth, AK
“Hubbard Glacier”, Taylor Thompson, Eagle River, AK



Categories: Arts & Culture

From the Archives | A Fine Contrivance by Susanna J. Mishler

49 Writers - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 12:42pm
I re-listened to a recording last week of poet and electrician Susanna J. Mishler’s lecture, “A Fine Contrivance: How Can a Poem Be a Machine?” She presented the talk originally in 49 Writers’ Reading and Craft Talk Series, a response to the famous William Carlos Williams assertion that “A poem is a machine made out of words.” A few after I listened to the recording, I happened to get a call from Susanna, who’s out working a long construction stint on Kodiak. Listening to her impressions of the land and seascapes there and stories from the jobsite, a missile launch facility, I thought again of her many ideas, questions, and images from the talk and her poems woven into it.  
While the craft talk recording won’t be available on our website until it’s adapted for the page and published, we do have a smattering of other recorded events. I anticipate the archive growing more regularly in the future, particularly next fall when we’ll have a new website. For now, enjoy this Mishler post from the blog archive, once a preview in advance of her craft talk, and now a bit of a reminiscence. -- Jeremy 
 
Susanna J. Mishler presents a 49 Writers Reading and Craft Talk, October 2014A poem is a machine made of words.- William Carlos Williams
As poet and electrician, I wonder how this statement might be true. The objects of machine and poem seem contrary. But if a poem is a machine made of words, and the idea of a poem as machine seems contradictory, then what are we missing?
Power Outage in a Northern NeighborhoodNight stretches over us like plum skin.Every winter I learn constellations,forget them. The Big Dipper is a bearwith a long tail. This made sense to someone,this confusion of flashing points.We run fingers in the black dog’s coat;
they spark. We zip wool and down coats(stolen from other animals) over our cooling skins.I press to her shoulder under pointsthat wink like knife-tips. Each constellationis indulgence – lines drawn between fires by someonewho found a vacuum unbearable.
Suppose it’s a vault of eyes bearingon our windows, on our coat-backs.That sense of watching. That sense of Someone.There’s this theory of innate fire in our skinsbut it isn’t right. More like rubbing sticks. Constellationspass over indifferently, whirring about their central point.
The dog stands outside with ears pointed,nose pressed to a window. Our cats bareteeth, yowl, break glass into constellationson hardwood, skid around the coatrack.All over a glimpse of stranger. As if they’ll be starved skinnyor given away to someone
who knits cat sweaters. Someonemight peek into this darkness and feel disappointed.Creations sharpen inside our skinsyet when the lights get snuffed we’re bare.Separate. Ill-equipped. Dependant on the coatsof others. “How are we intended?” we ask the constellations.
“One soul is sometimes worth a whole constellation,”she says, thinking Karamazov. The dog’s ears flick to someone’sfootsteps, and he sniffs, searches the air, face coatedin frost. She presses into my shoulder and pointsto Ursa Minor, the boy who became a bear,after his mother did, ever chasing her familiar skin.
A skinned bear looks human, like someonecoatless and red curled on leaves. The pointsof constellations are hard. And we are insufferably soft.
I wrote “Power Outage In A Northern Neighborhood” (from Termination Dust, 2014) using a formal principle that I imagine like a Newton’s Cradle. A Newton’s Cradle transfers kinetic energy via a set of spheres on strings. When a sphere on one end is lifted and released, it strikes the stationary spheres; its force is transmitted through the stationary spheres and knocks the last sphere up.
In a sestina, this poem’s form, the words that end the lines of the first stanza are repeated as the words ending the lines of every stanza – the same end-words recur throughout the poem. The same six words (constellation, someone, coat, point, bear, skin) recur and re-transmit the poem’s energy. The repetition of these words both joins and extends the thoughts within each line. It makes a regular pattern – a form – made of words. But is it a machine? 
Susanna J. Mishler’s poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mid-American Review, Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere. Her first collection of poems, Termination Dust, was published by Red Hen Press/Boreal Books in 2014. Susanna holds an MFA in Poetry from The University of Arizona in Tucson, where she served as a poetry editor for Sonora Review. She’s the recipient of a Peter Taylor Fellowship in Poetry from the Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop, and the Bill Waller Writing Award from the University of Arizona. Among other things, Susanna has worked as a dock hand, science educator, and sled dog handler. She currently lives in Anchorage and earns her living as an electrician.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Brendan Jones | The Moral Writer

49 Writers - Tue, 05/17/2016 - 9:11am
Back in Sitka, taking a breath with the family before traveling around Alaska to tour with the book, a question keeps coming back: do we as writers take on certain responsibilities as a result of the act of creation? And if so, how to fulfill these responsibilities? 
For starters, I think what we’re doing as story-makers – writing fiction – matters. There are stakes, and we have a responsibility to honor these stakes. This means bearing witness, and, to quote Rilke, “to trust in what is difficult.” Homer, the bards of Ireland, troubadours in Southern France knew this – they took their bumps and wrote, or recited like hell about it, as the case may be. Their storytelling certainly was act of engagement with the wider world. Of course the writer has the responsibility, first and foremost, to tell a personal truth, to write from the core of the self. But what if this core ignores the world at large, and the awfulness in it? How can you justify writing about the beauty of the Charles Bridge if people are being incinerated an hour away? Writing is not, and cannot be an absolute moral value. 
I’ve written political pieces for the New York Times and Huffington Post, but also have had the great pleasure of seeing the novel land with people. While the op-eds create a quick, visceral response, the novel (as I've been able to see it) taps into something different, a deeper current. People tell back their stories. It connects deep within us, into some underground river perhaps we’d been ignoring for too long.
Bottom line: we find ourselves confronted by something terrible playing out before our eyes. An ecological holocaust, how about that? Are we duty-bound to write about it? I would never be so presumptuous as to construct rules of engagement for the written word. And yet art that claims to be sufficient, exempt, autonomous, a universe unto itself, is problematic – and not in a fancy, interesting postmodern way. Indeed it’s part and parcel of the type of thinking that brought us to our current impasse – impasse is the wrong word, that brought us into the current horror we’re witnessing today. Sea lions beaching themselves in almond orchards, waiting to die. The starfish die-off slowly moving its way northward up the west coast. Or the sea lice on salmon from fish farms in British Columbia, the yellow cedar die-off, glaciers crumbling, a familiar, depressing list. To turn the question around, how can we NOT insert a moral component to the work we’re doing? And how can we not take exception with work that privileges human consciousness over and above the world we live in?
Cormac McCarthy looks the holocaust in the eye when he writes about the brook trout smelling of moss, and on the backs of the fish “vermiculite patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming” in The Road. Anne Michaels does it figuratively, in her poetry measuring the weight of oranges, or in her novel Fugitive Pieces, as she contemplates how humanism and an engagement with the sensual world of Greece can heal the wounds of the Holocaust. I was reading Howard Norman the other day and came across a passage in his essay “I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place,” when he discusses an Inuit man wailing at Sedna, a god who has created a storm, putting a floatplane takeoff at risk.
[The Inuit man] had worked himself nearly to tears. Again, I didn’t know for which trespass he was asking pardon – with humankind there were so many and they occurred so frequently – nor did I know if I should even have been looking at him. What is the proper decorum in the presence of such a dramatic and intimate petition for mercy from invisible forces?

Meanwhile, I helped his son, Peter Shaimayuk, load five electric guitars and several sacks of mail into the cargo hold. The guitars were going to Winnipeg for repair.

Here I find a nuts-and-bolts story of guitars needing repair in Winnipeg, but one that is constructed 
out of a writerly core that has in mind and considers, with every word, how we as humans orient ourselves to an uncertain and crumbling world that we have created for ourselves. A good example of environment being told through story. 
I do believe the act of writing, at its core, is about granting essence and urgency and even personhood to the natural world around us. To make it come alive, so we can taste it, feel its winds on the sides of our neck, taste the brine, all of it. To acknowledge how we are hitched into a world that we are destroying. And a writing that furthers our illusion of autonomy is morally compromised. I believe that. And perhaps sitting down this evening, and working this through, brought me to this conclusion. Maybe I'll change my mind, but after this book tour of eleven cities, meeting folks in the literary community, reviewers, readers, I do think this.

Here's a quote I love from Adam Gopnik: “We gawk and stare as the painters slice off their ears and down the booze and act like clowns. But we rely on them to make up for our own timidity, on their courage to dignify our caution. We are spectators in the casino, placing bets; that’s the nature of the collaboration that brings us together, and we can sometimes convince ourselves that having looked is the same as having made, and that the stakes are the same for the ironic spectator and the would-be saint. But they’re not. We all make our wagers, and the cumulative lottery builds museums and lecture halls and revisionist biographies. But the artist does more. He bets his life.”
Brendan Jones is the author of the novel The Alaskan Laundry, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. A recipient of a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Fundacion Valparaiso, and Ragdale, he is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He has had work in the New York TimesPloughsharesNarrative MagazinePopular WoodworkingThe Huffington Post, and has recorded commentaries for NPR. Raised in Philadelphia, he took the Greyhound west at the age of 19, ending up in Sitka, Alaska. He graduated from Oxford University, where he boxed for the Blues team, then returned to Alaska to commercial fish. He was a general contractor for seven years in Philadelphia, before heading back to Sitka, where he now lives, commercial fishing and renovating a WWII tugboat. | www.alaskanlaundry.com
Categories: Arts & Culture

Lois Paige Simenson | You Want Me To Write A What?!

49 Writers - Mon, 05/16/2016 - 10:09am
When I visited Ireland six years ago, I felt a pull for something I couldn’t explain. It wasn’t until recently that I understood the reason. I became an orphan and a close friend advised me to research my family. I learned I’m only a second-generation American on my father’s side. His mother grew up in Avoca, Wicklow, Ireland, and her family emigrated to America in the early 1900s to work in the copper mines of Butte, Montana. I wanted to return to Ireland and visit Wicklow; I wanted to write about my grandmother.
Coincidentally, when browsing writing websites, I met Elaine Nolan, a writer, composer, and musician who lives in Carlow, Ireland. Our friendship grew and before long we skyped and exchanged thoughts about our writing projects. It was a rush to watch in real time on my computer in Alaska as Elaine launched her novel, Of Heroes and Kings, at a Carlow pub in Ireland.
When I began to publish stories I’d email them to Elaine for feedback. Then, out of the blue last fall, Elaine asked me to write a song for an Ireland Easter Rising Centenary celebration concert she was producing in April 2016, in Maynooth, Kildare. Ireland was celebrating 100 years of independence from Great Britain. Elaine suggested I write the lyrics from the viewpoint of a descendant of Irish emigrants to America.
I read Elaine’s email and froze. Me? Write a song? This posed a daunting task for me. I’d written a few short stories, but what did I know about songwriting? I hadn’t even written poetry. This was somewhat intimidating, because let’s face it—Ireland is THE land of music and songwriting. My immediate thought was: I’m not worthy! I’m not Bono—or Enya.
I hemmed and hawed, but Elaine wouldn’t take no for an answer; I was committed. I embarrassed myself by asking if the 1916 Easter Rising was a religious holiday about Jesus rising from the dead. She laughed. “You Americans are so clueless. Google TheProclamation of Independence for the Republic of Ireland, it’s the most important document in Irish history because it signified a turning point in Ireland’s fight for independence from Britain. Then get back to me.”
I googled. I learned on April 24, 1916, the Irish Citizen Army wrote The Proclamation during a rebellion known as the 1916 Easter Rising, so named because it took place Easter weekend. Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders, read the Proclamation in front of the General Post Office in Dublin to declare Ireland’s independence from Britain. The seven leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising knew when they signed the Proclamation, they would face a British firing squad should their insurrection fail. It did, Pearse surrendered on April 29, 1916, and the British executed the seven leaders, but the Rising succeeded as a catalyst for the Irish to pursue their independence.
As I read the Proclamation for ideas on song lyrics, I pictured the Irish fleeing their homeland during the 1840s famine. It led me to research the history behind Ireland’s struggle for independence. I thought about America’s struggle for freedom and the sacrifices made to keep it. The process of researching Ireland’s struggle for freedom led me to appreciate America’s in a way I hadn’t before. I drafted some lyrics, held my breath and hit the ‘send’ button to Elaine. “If you don’t like this draft, I’ll write another.”
“No need to write another, I like this one,” she replied. I was knocked back, I couldn’t believe she liked it. Our music project became reality when Elaine emailed me the sheet music and called it Dear Ireland. It was fun collaborating with a friend half a world away on something I never in a million years thought I could do.
Elaine worked tirelessly, first composing all of the concert pieces, then pulling together musicians and singers for the concert. She invited me to come, so I made plans to be there on April 10th. When I told her I was coming, she invited me to sing with the choir alto section for several music pieces she had composed. When I arrived in Carlow, she informed me her tenor was sick, and would I please read my lyrics while she played the cello? I became weak in the knees, but didn’t want to disappoint my friend. We miraculously pulled it off without rehearsal.

When I chose to be a writer, if you would have said all this would happen because of it, I would have rolled my eyes with a “yeah, right.” But look where writing has led me—doing things I never dreamed I could do. This was a good lesson: as writers, we should always try new things. I’m ready to try something new again—maybe tackle a historical fiction novel set in Wicklow—or write a poem. What the heck, I wrote a song didn’t I?

            Dear Ireland ~                You became the dreams they dreamed, freedoms borne of war, Some stayed to fight the tyranny, to settle up the score. The sixteen hundred all stood firm, determined to be free, Your children told the stories of Padraig and Connelly. Your exiled children’s stories were told in another land, They were exiled to a liberty they did not understand. Their broken hearts for those they loved, the ones that stayed with you, Sons and daughters know the sacrifice, this freedom gift from you. And from this cost and sacrifice, their hard-won liberty, on east and west Atlantic shores, freedom wasn’t free. O Ireland, all your children know ’twas hard-won liberty… hard-won liberty.

Lois Paige Simenson lives in Eagle River and writes for newspapers, magazines, and blogs at loispaigesimenson.com. She is working on two novels, The Butte Girls Club and Otter Rock.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Weekly Roundup of Writing Opportunities for May 13

49 Writers - Fri, 05/13/2016 - 9:13am
EVENTS IN ANCHORAGE
16th Annual Reading Rendezvous Saturday, May 14th, 12-4 PM, Z. J. Loussac LibraryKick off Summer Reading with this fantastic family event on the library lawn. There will be live entertainment and activities. This can't-miss event is a traditional way to start your summer reading adventures. More info
Alaska Quarterly Review Book Launch Celebration  Saturday, May 14th, 7 PM | Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center Alaska Quarterly Review (AQR) celebrates its 34th year of publication with the Spring and Summer 2016 edition dedicated to the living memory of Eva Saulitis and Marie Sheppard Williams, marvelous writers and poets whose works graced our pages manytimes over several decades. Peggy Shumaker and Kate Partridge are the evening's featured poets. The program also includes music performed by Sharman Piper (oboe), Linda Ottum (cello), and Laura Koenig (flute) and commentary by Susan Derrera and Editor Ronald Spatz. More info
Poetry ParleyWednesday May 18th 7:00pm, at Great Harvest Bread Company 570 E Benson Blvd, Anchorage, AlaskaPoetry Parley returns this month with a reading of new work by emerging poet E D Turner followed by a group reading of poems from this month’s marquee poet: Naomi Shihab Nye. This will be their last meeting until regrouping in September. 
Book Release Celebration of Made of Salmon with William L. Iggiagruk Hensley, 
Don Rearden, Julia O’Malley, Kirsten Dixon, and  Carol Sturgulewski. 
Thursday, May 19th, | Readings, book signings, and discussion. 11:30 am - 1:30 pm 
Made of Salmon is the newest book from The Salmon Project, edited by former Alaska Writer Laureate Nancy Lord, and published by University of Alaska Press. It blends a unique and powerful collection of stories, essays, poems and photography that explore our shared connections to salmon—and how salmon connect to our values, families, hopes and fears. The Salmon Project is a co-sponsor for the event. Free parking in the South Lot, Sports Complex NW Lot, West Campus Central Lot, Sports Campus West Lot.  Everyone is encouraged to attend. For more information about UAA Campus Bookstore events contact Rachel Epstein at 786-4782 or repstein2@uaa.alaska.edu. http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/bookstore/events
Bear StoriesThursday, June 9, evening show, time TBA at Bear Tooth TheatrepubMusic by Todd Grebe & Cold Country | Tickets: $12, available May 24Hosted by the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA) with Arctic Entries volunteers and Bear Tooth. Proceeds benefit bear conservations.
EVENTS AROUND ALASKA

FAIRBANKSThe Fairbanks Arts Association is the host of the oldest Literary Reading in the State. Every month, the public is treated to writers reading their own work and a community meet-up where people can connect with other lovers of literature. Readings are held on the day after First Friday, usually the first Saturday of the month at 7 pm. Most reading are held in the Bear Gallery in Pioneer Park, although occasionally in the summer (June, July, and August) the weather is beautiful reading are held outside to another spot in Pioneer Park.
Upcoming: June 4: Community Writers Group and Alaska Writers Guild July 9: Nicole Stellon O’DonnellAugust 6: Paul GreciSeptember: UAF Faculty ReadingOctober: TBANovember: TBADecember: Rosemary McGuireAdditional readings and literary events may be held, but the First Saturday Literary Reading Series will always be at 7 pm the day after First Friday (Except February). 


SOUTHCENTRAL, including MAT-SU, KENAI PENINSULA
49 Writers is pleased to partner with the Machetanz Arts Festival at the Mat-Su College on June 4 and 5 to facilitate six writing workshops and two panel discussions. Register today!
Full schedule: Saturday, June 4, 2016Session I (9:30 – 11:30 am)Julie LeMay | Finding Yourself in a PoemWhile focusing on poetic techniques like metaphor and repetition, this workshop will use writing exercises to create poems about the self. Whether you’re a beginning or experienced poet, you’ll find this workshop a playful approach to getting some poems on the page. Open to all levels. 
Session II (12:30 – 2:30 pm)Alyse Knorr | How Shall I Begin? Starting Your Piece with a Bang How do writers keep readers reading? What’s the best way to begin your short story, novel, memoir, or poem to set the mood, establish themes, and introduce conflict? This workshop will explore the art of beginnings, introductions, and first words. We will look at some top-notch examples, work through craft exercises, and finish class with several new beginnings and approaches to beginnings!
Session III (2:45 – 4:45 pm)Don Rearden | The Sphere of WritingLearn how to advance your fiction and nonfiction to the next level by giving your writing a 360-degree transformation. In this workshop you'll be guided through a series of fun writing prompts that will help you understand and see the world your characters live in a new light. Learn how to craft complex and detailed environments and watch your characters come to life within their new realm of existence.
Panel Discussion (5 – 6:30 pm)Panel: Julie LeMay, Alyse Knorr, Don Rearden | "You've Written Something, Now What?" You’ve written your masterpiece, now what? This panel will explore the different ways to get feedback on your written work and how to decide where to submit your work for publication. We’ll discuss literary journals, agents, developmental editors, and all the behind-the-scenes work you need to accomplish between your first draft and getting your words in front of readers.
Sunday, June 5, 2016Session I (9:30 – 11:30 am)Lynn Lovegreen | Playing With DescriptionGood writers use description to set the scene or reveal character. We’ve all read a great line or sentence that describes perfectly, or cringed when a writer does too much or not enough. But how do we do that effectively? This workshop will explore description through reading and discussing examples, playing around with writing exercises, and finding what works for the writer in a specific audience, genre, and style.
Session II (12:30 – 2:30 pm)Martha Amore | Capturing Character: The Mechanics of Writing Great Characters in Fiction and NonfictionWhether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, crafting complex and emotionally moving characters is critical to a successful piece of writing. This workshop focuses on how to develop your characters while advancing your story.
Session III (2:45 – 4:45 pm)Susanna Mishler | Walking the LineWhat exactly is a poetic line made of? What difference does it make where the line "breaks"? In this workshop participants will examine lines by contemporary English-language poets that are used to achieve very different effects. We will also experiment with lineation strategies and types with in-class exercises. Our exercises and guided discussion will help illuminate what makes a strong poetic line, and how an understanding of poetic lines can enhance our own writing and reading. Suitable for poets and prose writers, as well as readers, who would like to broaden their knowledge of poetic craft.
Panel Discussion (5 – 6:30 pm)Panel: Lynn Lovegreen, Susanna Mishler, Martha Amore | Writing About Alaska Without MooseHow do you write authentically about a place that has inspired so much clichéd literature? We’ll explore how to develop written work imbued with place that doesn’t descend into overly-familiar themes and images.
SOUTHEAST
Skagway | May 20th, 7 pm, Dedman Stage, Seven Pastures. The Chance Ensemble presents John Muir: University of the Wilderness -- A Narrative Concert. Opening act: Buckwheat Donahue. Sponsored by Skagway Arts Council and National Park Service. More.


OPPORTUNITIES AND NEWS

Rasmuson Foundation Announces 2016 Individual Artist Award Recipients | Literary awardees include Brian Fierro and Joan Naviyuk Kane (both of Anchorage) and Seth Kantner of Kotzebue. Full list and more info
Award nominations due May 31 for 2016 Contributions to Literacy in Alaska (CLIA) Awards. The program is a statewide effort to recognize people and agencies who support literature and literacy in the north. The awards, presented by Alaska Center for the Book annually since 1993, honor individuals and institutions who have made a significant contribution to literacy efforts, to the literary arts, or preservation of the written or spoken word in Alaska. Past winners include librarians, teachers, writers, tutors, learning programs, volunteers and others dedicated to making the world a better place through the gift of language. 

Last years’ winners were historian Dee Longenbaugh of Juneau: Barrow author Debby Dahl Edwardson; Dr. Edna McLean of Anchorage, author of an Inupiaq-English dictionary; and “Alaska Spirit of Reading,” a literacy program based in Sitka.Although the initial deadline was in April, the deadline has been extended to May 31. Nomination forms are available on-line at Alaska Center for the Book’s web site, http://www.alaskacenterforthebook.org or by calling 907-786-4379

Awards will be presented in July during the University of Alaska’s Northern Renaissance Arts and Sciences reading series, held in conjunction with UAA’s MFA program in Creative Writing. Alaska Center for the Book is Alaska’s affiliate to the Library of Congress Center for the Book. The non-profit, all-volunteer board partners with literary, educational, arts and humanities organizations to host and sponsor events across the state, including Reading Rendezvous, Alaska Reads, Poems in Place, Letters About Literature and more. Contact: Carol Sturgulewski (907) 764-1604
Seeking Storytellers On the evening of Thursday, June 9, the International Association for Bear Research and Management is hosting a Bear Storytelling Night at the Bear Tooth Theatrepub. The format will be inspired by Arctic Entries. The theme for the show is bears: bear encounters, bear lessons, bear observations, bear obsessions, bear ANYTHING. Bear biologists, Alaskans of all ages, visitors, anyone who has a good bear tale – are welcome to tell us their best bear stories!Arctic Entries volunteers will help with story selection and story coaching for the show. This event will feature seven storytellers who will be selected based on the range of stories submitted – from the funny to the scary, adorable to the bizarre, and everything in between. Once a story is submitted, they will follow up either in person, on the phone, or through email. Arctic Entries volunteers will work with you on developing the story, fleshing out the parts that elicit a range of reactions from the audience, and finding a storytelling technique that works for you. They also provide assistance with stage fright. Please submit stories to submityourbearstory@gmail.com. Include your name, email address, and phone number along with your story pitch. Thank you!
Seeking Writers and Photographers for New Alaska Food MagazineEdible Alaska, a new magazine focused on food culture and practices in Alaska, will hit the newsstands in June. Currently they are getting ready to launch their website with lots of new content. They seek writers, photographers, recipe writers, and local chefs (who want to be a resource to them). Article pitches should fall (loosely) into the categories: eat, drink, and food for thought. Web articles will be between 250-400 words and will pay about $50 per piece and an additional $25 for an accompanying photograph. The rate is somewhat negotiable for more experienced writers/photographers and for longer pieces. 
They seek original recipes that can include your standard recipe and a "how-to" video. They are not looking for another profile about a great microbrewery or reviews of well-known restaurants. They want to expand what people know and think about food (and food culture) in Alaska while creating an archive of food practices throughout the state (both urban and rural).
Please email your pitch to bree@edibleak.com with the subject line: Edible Article Pitch.  Please include in your pitch sample writing clips, if you have any. The magazine is particularly interested in recruiting writers from outside of Anchorage and writers who live in rural/bush areas of the state.  Don't let a lack of writing experience deter you from pitching a story, they are interested in cultivating new writers who have great stories to share.”

CONFERENCES, AWARDS, RETREATS & RESIDENCIES
Skagway | Scholarship to North Words Writers Symposium | The Skagway Arts Council offers Arts Scholarships of up to $300 to individuals who have lived in Skagway for at least one year. More information and applications are available on the SAC blog.

The sixth annual North Words Writers Symposium will be held May 25-28. Novelist/essayist/editor and storyteller supreme Brian Doyle of Portland, Oregon (Mink RiverThe PloverMartin Marten, and the forthcoming Chicago) will be the 2016 keynote author. He will be joined by Alaskan authors Kim Heacox, Eowyn Ivey, Heather Lende, Lynn Schooler, John Straley, and Emily Wall. Learn more and register
Salmon Life Haiku Contest | Love salmon? Submit haikus about your Salmon Life to win sweet prizes, including a gift card, 'Made of Salmon,' a salmon t-shirt & other goodies. More info.

The fifteenth Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference will be held on June 10-14 in Homer. This year's keynote is Pulitzer Prize winning, National Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, who will be joined by Miriam Altshuler (agent), Dan Beachy-Quick, Richard Chiappone, Jennine Capó Crucet, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Forrest Gander, Lee Goodman, Richard Hoffman, Erin Coughlin Hollowell, Sarah Leavitt, Nancy Lord, Jane Rosenman (editor), Peggy Shumaker, Sherry Simpson, Frank Soos, and David Stevenson. For more information and to register go to the website


David Lynn Grimes, Michelle McAfee, Robin Child, and Nancy Cook will lead the second annual Riversong Workshop, a Wrangell Mountains Center program. This July 20-26th program for writers and songwriters includes four nights on the Kennicott, Nizina, Chitina and Copper Rivers. Info and registration at http://www.wrangells.org/writing.
Debra Magpie EarlingRegister now for the 2016 Tutka Bay Writers Retreat, a 49 Writers program which will take place on September 9-11, 2016 at the fantastic Tutka Bay Lodge. Faculty instructor award-winning writer Debra Magpie Earling will lead fiction writers in an in-depth writing workshop. Emphasizing in-class writing supportiveness, collegiality, and constructive atmosphere, the engaged student will emerge with improved techniques for further work. Early registration fee is $600 for members and $650 for nonmembers. Learn more and register.
Storyknife Writers Retreat submissions window for its inaugural Storyknife Fellow closes May 15th. Women writers (over 21) can apply for a 2 week to 4 week residency during the month of September 2016. The successful candidate(s) will receive a $250 per week stipend at the end of their residency. This money can be used to cover the costs of travel, food, and a rental car if the resident is from out of the drivable area. The resident will need to purchase and prepare their own meals, with the exception of a welcome dinner and a farewell dinner, at the beginning and end of their stay. Learn more and apply
Alaska Magazine seeks pitches from new and established writers. They are a publication for Alaska enthusiasts and need a wide variety of articles. The best section to break into the magazine is KtoB (formerly Ketchikan to Barrow), which includes everything from cool job profiles to End of the Trail obituaries to a short write up about an Alaska-made product. They’d also like to see queries about culture, history, nature, interviews with Alaskans and feature articles ideas. Review recent hard copy issues of Alaska magazine and visit www.alaskamagazine.com to learn more, and then send short, descriptive pitches to freelance contributing editor Susan Sommer at sbsommer@mtaonline.net.
13 Chairs Literary Journal, a new literary journal publishing short stories and poetry from new and emerging authors, seeks submissions and volunteers. They are currently composing their flagship issue, straight out of JBER, AK. To learn more, and to submit, email info@13chairs.com or visit www.13chairs.com.

Thank You for Your Support!Over 10,000 people read the blog each month. The blog is made possible by 49 Writers members, along with all of the workshops, author tours, Crosscurrents events, readings, and craft talks we offer. Won't you join them by becoming a member? Join Us 49 Writers Volunteer Seta
Have news or events you'd like to see listed here? Email details to 49roundup (at) gmail.com. Your message must be received by noon on the Thursday before the roundup is scheduled to run. Unless your event falls in the "Opportunities" category, it should occur no more than 30 days from when we receive your email.


Categories: Arts & Culture

Deb Vanasse: Writer Makes Dirt

49 Writers - Thu, 05/12/2016 - 5:00am

Forgive me if I seem a bit obsessed by dirt. 
In December, we moved into a newly built house on an acre of land situated three-quarters of a mile from the Pacific Ocean, along the north coast of Oregon. It’s a splendid setting, a coastal plain wedged between expansive forests of Douglas firs and Sitka spruce, trafficked by an abundance of waterfowl, shorebirds, deer, elk, and the neighborhood’s resident pheasants.
When spring arrived—early here as it did in Alaska—we set about trying to wrangle what’s essentially the top of a sand dune into something that resembles a yard and a set of gardens. Into the sand, we tilled in dozens and dozens of cubic yards of compost, hoping for a mix that approaches (in the garden beds, at least) a sandy loam, which would ensure tender, searching roots the balance of nutrients, drainage, and water they seek.
Making dirt is no small undertaking. Neither is planting 1800 square feet (fenced to exclude elk and deer) of fruit orchard, berries, and vegetables, not to mention foundation plantings around the house and along the driveway plus a huge kitchen garden on the beyond the patio. Once the planting is done, the weeding begins, and the wrangling with pests.
After full days of writing and editing—interrupted only by the dog, who insists on her daily jaunt along the beach or through the coastal forest—I spend evenings with my hands in the dirt. Fresh off the ocean, the breeze stirs scents of lavender, sage, and clove-spiked dianthus from my fledgling yard. Warblers trill and a mourning dove coos. The work never ends, and I somehow don’t want it to.
In The Botany of Desire, author Michael Pollan points out that in gardening, our interplay with nature is more complex than it seems. We evolve with our plants, which may shape us almost as much as we shape them. Wildness lurks at the periphery of our every effort, which is as it should be.
The entire enterprise of my evenings in the dirt feels to me a lot like the writing I do by day. The process is messy, the work intense. Challenges pop up one after the other, an endless loop of whack-a-mole (the mole being, quite literally, one of the problems I am destined to meet in my gardens).
Then there’s the harvest. The strawberries are ripening now, bright and tasty. I run the numbers in my head—what I paid for a flat of healthy plants, an annual yield extrapolated from my daily gleanings, the three- to five-year life span I can expect of the plants. The cost of fertilizer, tools, fence, dirt, time. In practical terms, I’d likely do better buying strawberries at the store or at our local Sunday Market.
But as every gardener—and every writer—knows, the actual reward is not to be measured against costs. We engage in these wild and wacky enterprises not because they make sense. We do it for the magic, that such a thing—a (nearly) perfect red strawberry, a story, a novel, a poem—rises up from the most ordinary elements, and we, uncertain and bumbling—get to play some part in the transformation.
Co-founder of 49 Writers, Deb Vanasse welcomes her Alaska friends to visit in her new home. She especially welcomes those who enjoy weeding. Her latest book is Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Klondike Race for Gold.

Categories: Arts & Culture
 

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