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Collaborative Reflections & Book News By and About Alaskan AuthorsAndromeda Romano-Laxhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16988887975016816552noreply@blogger.comBlogger1909125
Updated: 19 hours 14 min ago

Round Up of News and Events

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 4:02am
Head down to Crosscurrents at the Anchorage Museum on Wednesday. Frank Soos, Eva Saulitis, Susanna Mishler, and David Stevenson will give us a glimpse behind the curtain to see the real person behind the author's persona on the page.

Enjoy the lengthening daylight. There's always time to write when you finally come in at night, or when you're awakened by the early dawn.

Happy writing!
Morgan

EVENTS IN ANCHORAGECrosscurrents: Alaska Writer Laureate Frank Soos and panelists Eva Saulitis, Susanna Mishler, and David Stevenson. A wide ranging discussion about how writers present themselves on the page in poetry and essay, as opposed to the people they may be in the rest of their lives. Wednesday, April 29, 7pm at the Anchorage Museum, 7th Street entrance.

May events from the UAA Bookstore. All UAA Campus Bookstore events are informal, free and open to the public.  There is free parking for bookstore events in the South Lot, the West Campus Central Lot (behind Rasmuson Hall), the Sports Lot and the Sports NW Lot.  For more information call  Rachel at 786-4782 or email repstein2@uaa.alaska.edu.

  • May 7, 4:30-6:00pm: Photographer Ben Huff presents his book The Last Road North
  • May 8, 4:00-6:00pm: Author Stuart Archer Cohen presents his book This Is How It Really Sounds
  • May 10, 4:00-6:00pm at UAA/APU Consortium Library room 307: Glenn Kurtz presents Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film.  


EVENTS AROUND ALASKAONLINE CLASSES
Lynn Lovegreen will lead an online workshop on writing YA/NA historical romance sponsored by Young Adults Chapter of Romance Writers of America (YARWA). Writing YA/NA Historical Romance. Online: May 4-22, 2015. $10 for YARWA members ($20 for non-members). Register here.

SOUTHCENTRAL, MAT-SU, KENAI PENINSULAThe 2015 Mat-Su Young Writers Conference, April 25, sponsored by Publication Consultants and the Mat-Su School District, is in need of author speakers to present on a number of writerly topics. To apply as an author speaker, contact Evan Swensen at evan@Publication Consultants.com.

Meet Linda Dunegan. Friday, May 1 at 4pm at Fireside Books in Palmer. If you've been reading the news this past year, you've probably seen allegations of corruption and abuse in the Alaska National Guard. Linda Dunegan's book The Price of Whistleblowing is her own story of working in that institution. It's an unflinching narrative about standing up in a hostile environment, and it's a stark commentary on the impact of corruption on national security -- and on individual lives.

An All-Day Independent Bookstore Day Party at Fireside Books in Palmer! May 2nd.  
They're celebrating with some some really special bookstore "swag" -- collectibles that will only be available at participating independents on May 2nd. They'll have broadsheet posters created by Stephen King just for the occasion, literary tea cloths and onesies, socks from Christopher Moore. They even have a stencil from Margaret Atwood. And a full day of events. Click on the links to find out more:

Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, June 12-16. 2015’s keynote speaker is Andre Dubus III, and there are a host of amazing writers on the faculty this year (as there are every year). This year's post-conference workshop at Tutka Bay Lodge, Finding the Geography of Our Work, will be led by 2014 Kingsley Tufts Award winner Afaa Weaver, June 16-18,

SOUTHEASTLiterary Happy Hour: a new monthly event in Juneau. Sunday, April 26, 4:30-6pm, Coho's, 51 Egan Drive. Free - No Host Bar. Readings by Libby Bakalar (author of the Juneau-based blog One Hot Mess) and Geoff Kirsch (Juneau Empire columnist and humorist). These two writers (who happened to be married) are truly funny! Check out their work by clicking on their names. See you at Coho's!

Perseverance Theatre and the Juneau Public Library, and 49 Writers invite you to meet Madeline George, author of Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England. May 1, 12pm at the Juneau Public Library Downtown. Bring a bag lunch and chat with Madeline about the play, writing, and her life as a writer. Madeline is the author of two young adult novels as well as several plays. She is a resident playwright at New Dramatists. The event is free and open to the public. Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England opens May 1 at Perseverance Theatre and runs through May 24. Tickets are available at Hearthside Books and the JACC and by calling 463-TIXS. Visit ptalaska.org for information about pay-as-you-can and preview performances.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR WRITERSPUBLICATION Local writer Andrea Hackbarth is volunteering as a poetry reader for the lit journal noble gas quarterly. She reports that she's "been asked to forward our call for submissions to any and all writer folk. Because I'm reading for poetry, this particular call is poetry focused, but they publish fiction, non-fiction, art, and other things as well. Check out the journal and submission guidelines and send some work in." "noble gas quarterly's poetry section seeks poetry submissions of all styles and dispositions. we seek to create a safe space for experimentation with all the substance of a precious metal and the formal stability of a noble gas. please send 3-5 pieces via submittable with a brief bio and some word on your poetics. we look forward to hearing from you!"
CONTESTS & GRANTSPoets & Writers lists a ton of writing contests and grants on their searchable website. The May/June issue includes an analysis of contest trends for the last decade.
CONFERENCES, RETREATS & RESIDENCIESPoets & Writers Live comes to Chicago on June 20 with a day-long program on Editors & Agents. Join them at Instituto Cervantes as to explore the writer's journey from inspiration to publication. Panelists include agents Jeff Kleinman of Folio Literary Management and Renée Zuckerbrot of the Renée Zuckerbrot Literary Agency; publicist Michael Taeckens; editors Victor Giron of Curbside Splendor, Adrienne Gunn of TriQuarterly, Jeff Pfaller of Midwestern Gothic, and Don Share of Poetry magazine; and many others. Space is very limited. Registration is now open and the Early Bird price is just $60 until May 15. (After May 15, registration is $120.)

Registration is open for the Tutka Bay Writers Retreat featuring two outstanding guest instructors, Ann Eriksson and Gary Geddes! September 11-13 at the fabulous Tutka Bay Lodge.

National Arts Strategies: Call for Creative Community Fellows. Application deadline for the second cohort: April 26. Around the world there are artists, activists, community organizers, administrators and entrepreneurs working as change-makers in their communities - using arts and culture as vehicles to drive physical and social transformations. During the nine-month fellowship, fellows are given tools, training and access to a community of support in order to fuel their visions for community change, spark new ideas and help propel them into action.

The Wrangell Mountains Center residency program aims to support artists of all genres, writers, and inquiring minds in the creation of their work. Their organization and community will provide unrestricted work time and space to focused individuals. They invite applicants with creative and inquisitive minds who will both add to and benefit from the interdisciplinary efforts at their campus in McCarthy, Alaska and the surrounding Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

North Words Writers Symposium, May 27-30, Skagway. Keynote speaker is Mary Roach, plus a bevvy of Alaska's best authors.

Kachemak Bay Writers' ConferenceHomer, AK, June 12-16, 2015: keynote speaker is Andre Dubus III, and there are a host of amazing writers on the faculty this year (as there are every year).

Last Frontier Theatre Conference, June 14-20, in Valdez, features new work by playwrights from around the country. There are evening performances, 10-minute play slams, even a fringe festival. The deadline is past for play submissions, but they may still need actors.

Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop presents RiverSong with Frank Soos, Michelle McAfee, Robin Child, and Nancy Cook, July 22-27, McCarthy to Chitina. The Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop is pleased to partner with McCarthy River Tours & Outfitters to host a six-day, five-night adventure in the fabulous Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. This year’s workshop will feature poet and essayist, Frank Soos, who is currently serving as Alaska’s Writer Laureate, joined by accomplished singer-songwriter Michelle McAfee, backcountry banjo-diva Robin Child, and workshop director Nancy Cook. Together they will explore the ways wilderness can help inspire songs, stories, poems, and essays. Activities include an opening reading/performance and craft sessions in the comfort of the Wrangell Mountains Center’s facility in McCarthy, followed by three nights and four days of creative inquiry along the Kennicott, Nizina, Chitina, and Copper Rivers. Space is limited to eight student writers/ songwriters.

Alaska Writers Guild & SCBWI Annual Writer’s Conference, September 19-20, Anchorage. Early registration starts May 2015. www.AlaskaWritersGuild.com







Categories: Arts & Culture

Rebecca Salsman: Watching Chaos Turn Into Beauty: Looking Through the Eyes of a Student Editor

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 5:00am
My experience as a student editor required 180 hours of work in 3 months and endless tasks I never thought I would perform. When I started the process I somehow thought it would be like proofing my college paper. I assumed I would be moving some commas and turning “to” into “too.” Turns out I was wrong. 

As the Senior Editor of Tidal Echoes, the University of Alaska Southeast’s Literary and Arts Journal, I have learned about every facet of writing. The journal accepts submissions from anyone living in Southeast Alaska and is made up of at least 25% student work. 
Two students and a faculty member edit the pieces to create a published journal. We received over 350 submissions this year, our highest number yet. That created a manuscript the size of a decent novel that had to be cut down to 120 pages including all of the front matter and biographies. It seemed daunting for 3 people and a small editorial board. 

Thankfully, I discovered through editing that writing is built from a community. Putting together the journal took so much more then our small group. When I first became an English major I was terrified by the thought of entering into a cutthroat profession. I envisioned something similar to the journalists in Spiderman always trying to outdo each other. But again, it turns out I was wrong. 

UAS staff and faculty sacrificed time and energy by reading anonymous copies of the journal and scoring them. There were several moments I was close to tears because I felt inadequate, but the writing staff from UAS never ceased to encourage me at the right moments. 

I could go on for a while about all the ways I have seen people help and share their love for writing. It wasn’t just people who loved writing that got involved in the journal. We had a gracious graphic designer that took the time to really care about details by turning pages of text into a completed book. Also, the company that printed our book, Alaska Litho, took this little old student into the printing room and explained the whole process in detail during an hour long tour. 

What have I taken away from my internship? Don’t be afraid to have company along the journey. Before becoming the Tidal Echoes editor I was a one-man show. No matter how big the task I was determined to finish it alone. I have learned that more brains brings more creativity. There are so many people out there who care about what I, and other writers, are creating. We need one another for stories, to build up our areas of our weakness, and to be involved in the community.

If I could urge writers, and others involved in the arts, to remember one thing it would be to create a neighborhood of like-minded people by being involved. All of the pieces in Tidal Echoes are beautiful. But as a whole, the journal has been taken from a few unrelated stories and moved into a collection of art that is unique to Southeast Alaska. Because people submitted, volunteers dedicated time, and the staff worked hard the journal became a community in itself, one voice with many unique tones and features.


Categories: Arts & Culture

Matthew Komatsu: Alaska and War Writing

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 5:00am
On the night of September 14th, 2012, a team of insurgents armed to the teeth and wearing US uniforms slipped through the wire of Bastion Air Base, Afghanistan. Once inside, they unleashed hell. Firing RPGs, they lit an uncovered jet fuel depot that contained millions of gallons of JP-8 ablaze, destroyed several Harrier jets and killed two Marines. I know this because I was there alongside three of my men. We answered a call for help and got a little more than we expected. In the days that followed, I had an idea to write my way through the experience. It took me over a year to get it down and published (link to the NYT essay is below) but I was hooked. It was time to quit screwing around. Time to write.

I came up with an idea for a short story about a veteran; a veteran I dropped into the Alaskan backcountry I have come to know and love. My wife’s final trimester frenzied the writing with the knowledge that time would soon grow scarce and I wrote with a sense of purpose I’d never found before. I am proud of what emerged, even if I wasn’t able to get it published. War was merely the beginning of the story, not the end. By the final drafts, Alaska emerged as a character as strong as my protagonist, and as deadly as war itself.

To return from war is to grapple with your place in the world. Hemingway knew this when he wrote “Big Two-Hearted River,” even if he was bit limited by the landscape of rural Michigan compared to what lies outside our doorsteps. And surely I’m not the only one to ask whether the story itself would have grown beyond the confines of In Our Time should Nick Adams have found respite on the Kenai, or in the wilds of the great Alaskan Interior. But Nick Adams isn’t the only veteran who turned to the natural world for whatever it might offer. Post-Vietnam, Ed Abbey placed George Hayduke in the Desert Southwest. Homer left Odysseus in the mythical wilds for a full decade. Which of you, I wonder, will write a veteran into Alaska?

Because here’s the thing: few other writers live with what we have outside our doorsteps. No matter where you live in Alaska, from Anchorage to New Stuhoyak, the natural world influences our lives in a way that is not well understood by our friends in the Lower 48. We are privileged with access and knowledge that begins not with a drive or a flight, but with mere steps. The natural world is a constant force within our lives, more so than anywhere else in the nation. It makes perfect sense we tend toward writing the natural world.  I would argue, then, that we’re even better placed to produce the next Odyssey or In Our Time by examining the story of a veteran in such a place.

But should your ambitions be lower than being the next Hemingway or Homer, there is this: our history as a state is intertwined with the twists and turns of both hot, and cold, wars throughout the 20th century. There is a trove of material awaiting research and telling. From the forgotten battles of WWII’s Aleutian Islands Campaign to the Shackleton-esque survival story of the Clobbered Turkey, fell deeds await your words. Socially-minded authors might pay close attention to the untold story of the Alaska Territorial Guard, whose members were not granted veteran status until 2000, and whose example is a forgotten scion of the integration of minorities and women into the military.

I guess that all this is to say that there’s a wealth of material at your fingertips, and it all begins with a keystroke, a scribble in a worn notebook, or a lingering question. I hope you accept the challenge. It’ll make a hell of a story.

Matthew Komatsu is an author and currently serving veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2014, he enrolled in the University of Alaska-Anchorage's MFA in Creative Writing program as a Nonfiction candidate. He has published essays in The New York Times; War, Literature and the Arts; and on stage at Anchorage, AK's Arctic Entries. War, Literature, and the Arts nominated his memoir-essay, "31 North 64 East" for a Pushcart Prize. He also has a flash essay upcoming in the September 2015 issue of Brevity. You can follow him on Twitter @matthew_komatsu.

Categories: Arts & Culture

From the Archives: Andromeda on Why POV matters to readers

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 5:00am
One of the first books that ever rattled my very inner core was a simple chapter book about a boy being bullied. I’ve tried for years to remember the title and author, but can’t. I was in fifth grade or so when I read it, and don’t trust my memory about the details, only about the delayed impact. The impact came after I read the second book in the series (if it was a series, rather than one book with two distinct parts): the same story told from the bully’s perspective. 
Until this point, I’d just fallen into fiction, happy to surrender to the enchantment of an imagined world, unable to stand outside and see them as “made” things, shaped by a living author. But reading this second book, it somehow became clear. The writer decided to tell the same story from the former antagonist’s point of view! What can I say? It hit me like a freight train. I read the book and understood why the bully was the way he was. The facts hadn’t changed; the perspective had. This seemed like an essential key to life. We call it empathy of course; I didn’t know that word at the time. I just knew that a book (or a series of books) was a fantastic way to achieve this effect, because it allowed you to step completely into the mind and life of another person–even the person you thought was the “bad guy.” 
As adult readers and writers, we’d say, “Well, of course.” But there was no “of course” for me. It seemed like a miracle that changed books, and changed the way I perceived the real world outside of books. I actually encountered some brief bullying around this time, from a big, sullen girl from another class who liked to push around kids, and who caught me one day standing in the center of a jungle gym. She rallied all her gigantic (okay, probably four-and-a-half-feet) thugs around the metal contraption and they taunted and pulled at my hair. The principal found out and “Barbie” and I both got in trouble–go figure–though at least we managed to avoid the infamous principal’s discipline paddle. (A bit of a sadist, that one.) 
The next time I saw her on the playground, I walked up to Barbie and said hi. We started talking. And strange but true: I left school that day with Barbie’s phone number scrawled in barely legible numbers (she wasn’t the brightest kid, I realized) on a damp little slip of paper. I never called, but she never bothered me again, either. I remember thinking that if I just tried to imagine what she was really like from the inside of her own skin then I didn’t need to be afraid of her. If the fear didn’t show on my face, I could walk up to her, and if I walked up to her and started talking, it was different from being hunted down, and something would change. And it did. 
Bullying stories rarely turn out that easy. But as a reader and a writer-to-be, that little episode meant a lot to me. Through my reading, I could get to understand a lot of Barbies –and many other people as well, including people who lived in different places or even in different historical periods. (A year later, I’d start reading books by Jane Auel, about prehistoric people living in caves who were–and weren’t–like people I knew. Mind-blowing!)
Growing up, my mother often cautioned me not to “be a mind reader” or expect her to be one, either. But in truth, we’re all mind readers. In her book Why We Read Fiction, Lisa Zunshine merges cognitive science and literary theory to suggest that reading minds–practicing it, dealing with successively greater challenges of understanding–was important in our evolutionary history and one reason we still get such pleasure today in reading novels. Fiction helps us see inside others’ minds, often many of them in a single book, tracking people’s thoughts (and quite often, errors), and even what imagined people are thinking about other imagined people, on up through many layers of mind-reading and source-tracking complexity. 
Regardless of what point-of-view a work uses, that viewpoint stretches our abilities to imagine, empathize, and practice those mind-reading skills that happen to be one of our brain’s favorite activities. It’s amazing to know what a bully is thinking–or a murderer, or a cavewoman, or a man from Mars. It’s instructive and entertaining to read a multi-generational saga told in alternating viewpoints (or recounted by an omniscient narrator), in which we get such contrasting views from siblings, parents and children, men and women. It’s inherently satisfying to view the world through even one intelligent but otherwise ordinary mind that is different from our own.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Leslie Hsu Oh Interviews Leigh Newman, author of Still Points North

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 5:00am

When I first met Leigh Newman at Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, I felt like I found my long lost sister. We are both raising our children in an urban setting (New York for her, Washington, D.C. for me) when we hope to pass on the values we learned in the wilderness. In Still Points North, out now in paperback from Shorefast Editions, Newman writes with tenderness about searching for identity and the difference between how to survive and knowing how to truly live. It was a finalist for the National Book Critic's Circle John Leonard Prize. Her fiction, essays and book reviews have appeared in One Story, Tin House, The New York Times Modern Love and Sunday Book Review, Fiction, Vogue, O The Oprah Magazine, Sunset, Real Simple and Bookforum. She currently serves as Books Editor of Oprah.com and teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College. 

The first time I read Still Points North, by the time I got near the end, I flipped through the last few pages impatient to find out whether this self-reliant/self-exiled travel writer would choose marriage or divorce. We are all dying to know if you are still married to Lawrence, for how long, how old are your kids, and what is his reaction to this book and comments readers have made about him? Does he come with you on book tours?
Wow! You're right. I should included a follow-up insert. Yes, Law and I are still married. We have two kids, both boys. One is 9 and the other 5. As for Lawrence's reaction to the book: he loves the reader comments; he comes off great! 

At the end of your book, you drop teasers like “mugged at knifepoint by a transvestite (long story, another book)….drifting until you end up on camelback at the border of Libya (long story, another book).” Well, which book are you working on? And if you aren’t working on these stories, can you please tell us what happened?
I'm working on a book of short stories about Anchorage—and that weird existence between the city and the wilderness. Most of it is about dreamers, dazzled and deluded and crashing to earth. Not unlike myself. 

The stories you're talking about are part of a book I may never write…I 'm not sure. It's about very dumb things I did and survived.

In your book trailer, you say “by age eight, I could land a 40 pound king salmon, dig out an outhouse, patch a wader.” Will your kids be able to make similar claims? As a mother raising a nine-year-old, six-year-old, and one-year-old in the Washington DC area, I’m often frustrated that I can’t give my children experiences like hiking with crampons on a glacier at the age of two when we lived in Alaska. I too have photos from my childhood like the one on the cover of the book (your sassy pose beside your father who is repairing something in front of his floatplane and your dog Jasmine) and those you shared in various interviews (you as an infant bouncing up and down in a pack n’ play in the woods beside a tent) which I’m trying to capture for my kids now. What have you done to make sure your kids have the same experiences you did with your dad?

I just do the best I can. I try to go up with the kids once a year. This year we're going to Fairbanks to go snow machining with my brother, who lives in a dry cabin. Other years, we've gone fishing, camping , skiing. The Alaska I grew up is kind of gone for me now—my dad no longer flies so we use cars and boats to get into the bush, which is a totally different experience. Powerful but different. I also just try to teach them all the skills they will need. They both ski, fish and do archery.

One of the things I loved about your book was the parenting tips that surface here and there. For example, “Ask kids about feelings. Specific ones. Mad. Sad. Broken Heart.” Do you have any tips for moms who are or dream of being travel writers?

Leave the kids with dad. Go. Come back with big present.  It will be happifying for you and inspirational for your kids. Show them how you want to live.

In interviews you shared that the process of writing Still Points North was not easy including a coffee spill right before the manuscript was due that shorted out your computer, “I wrote a lot of sloppy, long, meandering drafts. My editor Jennifer Smith at Dial was the one who kept (gently) pointing me in the right direction. Her comments really woke me up to the values of collaboration, even when that meant cutting out 120 pages (an excruciating process). The same went for her editorial assistant, Hannah, who weighed in on key points. Once I let them in, I had to let everybody in—agents, PR people, other writers. They all had good ideas, ones better than my own. It’s kind of shocking when you think about how talented and insightful people can be when you offer them the chance to help you.” From the point of time in which you sold Still Points North on a book proposal to publication, what advice can you offer other memoirists on how to navigate the implosion or explosion of a book? When to listen to your gut vs. agents/editors/writers?
I think….that you have the best b.s. meter. Usually when a good editor or agent points out an issue, you already know it's an issue, you just couldn't admit it to yourself. It is almost a relief to get rid of the problem. If they point out something that really doesn't resonate—just don't do it. I usually sit on edits for 3 days before I say or do anything. The first day I’m furious and weepy and sure they are idiots who just don’t get my vision. Then the second day, they might have a point. The third day, they are so insightful! How could I not have seen it!

We’ve all heard in critiques to avoid the present tense because it complicates what Philip Lopate calls the “double perspective, that will allow the reader to participate vicariously in the experience as it was lived (the confusions and misapprehensions of the child one was, say), while conveying the sophisticated wisdom of one’s current self.” And yet, you managed to do this beautifully in Still Points North. Please do share your secret.
I don't know. I wish I did. I had read almost no memoirs when I wrote mine, save A Boy's Life, which is in past tense. Now, of course, I feel so conflicted. Writing in the present tense is so natural for me. But I read all kinds of criticism about it (see William Gass) and it does rob you of reflecting, as an adult, on the complexity of what happened in your past. You lose out on your own hard won insight . So I wish I could do it differently—I feel very animalistic about writing, very instinctual—but I go back to the present, again and again. The past tense to me is sophisticated, elegant, and I long for it the way rube always long for urbanity, even as a rube knows she is still a rube.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Ben: Writing in a Cafe

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 6:00am
You walk into the Kaladi Brother’s Cafe on Northern Lights Boulevard and order a 16 ounce latte.  Yum.  It costs four dollars and a fifth goes in the tip jar.  It’s snowing hard outside.  Everyone in here is wearing a hat.  Those who speak are close in and quiet with their companions.  The steam machine and the music build a hum around you—the kind of white noise that matches the snow outside.

You sit at the curved bar with one other guy.  He looks at his phone.  He’s reading.  People watching movies don’t have that bright-eyed intensity readers have.  It’s time to write.

Your hands have been suffering from poor typing practice.  You pull a brace on your right hand just before the barista brings over your drink.  Thanks.

Now you have to earn five dollars.  What are they worth, the words you write?  Can you put a value on them.  Sure.  A dollar a page.  Write a page for every dollar you spend on coffee.  You may never earn it back, but you get to enjoy the nutty drink.  Man, they make a good coffee here.  This is no longer just about writing.  This is about living a life you have chosen instead of one thrust on you.

But you have about three quarters of an hour before they expect you home.  The snow is blowing across the road outside.  It’s freezing to the windshields out there and slicking the roads.  Better put those aching fingers on the keyboard and bang out some pages.  You’re buying them.

Then there is the tuition.  You pay to learn about writing in your MFA program.  You pay for your computer.  Your wife agreed to the program and the computer because you were going crazy before you had time to write.  That snow out there would kill you if you didn’t write.  So you drink the coffee and you try to write four pages.  The tip is a gift to the world.  Any tip is a gift to the world.  But mostly, you don’t spend money writing.  You spend time writing.  You write to stay alive in the crazy, white world you live in.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Matthew Komatsu: Reading War

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 5:00am


“Only the dead have seen the end of war” – Plato

History agrees with Plato’s pragmatic suggestion that war is engrained in the human condition. As such, it is as fair game as anything else within the human experience for artistic rendition.

Look, you can scratch the surface of war with ease. Kill memoirs do it on a regular basis, and even journalism rarely gets much past war’s fundamental values: kill or be killed. But this is not what draws my interest. Don’t get me wrong – the documentation of the experience is important. I am not arguing these things shouldn’t be written. But if, like me, you want something more, something that gets after those common threads of the human experience; then you want something you can claw. Something that peels back the layers of the onion and gets beyond the scene and into the underlying story.

Hemingway knew this, applied it in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Think of the mustard gas poetry of Sassoon and Graves, Wilfred Owen, All Quiet on the Western Front. Slaughterhouse Five. The Red Badge of Courage. War and Peace. The Iliad. Gilgamesh.

My MFA reading list skipped the glancing blows and went for the gut shots. Books that unsettled me, made me angry, lumped my throat, and inhabited my dreams. I found a wealth of nonfiction that deserves our attention, but here are my top memoir picks.

On Vietnam: 
- Dispatches, Michael Herr. Herr spent a year (1968ish) in Vietnam on a nebulous Esquire assignment. But unlike his journalistic peers, he worked without deadlines or assignments. He chose his narrative. And boy, is it a hell of a ride. Fragmented, challenging, soaked in LSD and hazy with weed smoke, cynical yet sentimental. If you read one nonfiction book on Vietnam, this is it.

On George Bush’s Iraq:
- Jarhead, Anthony Swofford. I’m re-reading this Marine’s tale right now. Political, angry, hilarious and stinging. Swofford’s narrator has some things to say.

On Afghanistan:
- War, Sebastian Junger. The literary partner to the acclaimed documentary Restrepo, this book documents a year in the most dangerous area in Afghanistan. Essentially an examination of why young men are drawn to war, Junger’s answer is surprising: love.

On George W. Bush’s Iraq:
Dust to Dust, Benjamin Busch. This book transcends war with a poetry unlike anything I’ve encountered. Sure, Iraq figures heavily, but as I would expect from the son of Frederick Busch, it’s just one experience that informs the story of a life. The narrative is fragmented but chaptered by elemental themes like fire, water, dust. I highly recommend you become familiar with Benjamin Busch.

Of course, this is just a beginning, a sample of men who’ve participated in war. But what about the other side, the voices who’ve not been heard? The stories exist, but I’ve had to work harder to find them. Amalie Flynn recently blogged for me here about her experiences as a war spouse, and you can out Michiko Kakutani’s New York Times article, which is damn near all-inclusive. On a budget? Read these for free: Brandon Lingle’s outstanding “Keeping Pace”, “I Said Infantry” by Brian Turner, and JA Moad’s meta discussion on the modern veteran writer.

Reading these authors will teach you that war is like any other life experience; it’s just that the volume is cranked up and the consequences are higher. Against its backdrop, the real stories emerge: culture, love, tedium, mental health, pain, healing, death and survival. It’s these stories that illuminate the true experience of war.


Matthew Komatsu is an author and currently serving veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2014, he enrolled in the University of Alaska-Anchorage's MFA in Creative Writing program as a Nonfiction candidate. He has published essays in The New York Times; War, Literature and the Arts; and on stage at Anchorage, AK's Arctic Entries. War, Literature, and the Arts nominated his memoir-essay, "31 North 64 East" for a Pushcart Prize. He also has a flash essay upcoming in the September 2015 issue of Brevity. You can follow him on Twitter @matthew_komatsu.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Ben: Writing Letters to Grandma

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 5:19am
Dear GrandmaI write letters to my grandmother.  I feel pressure to keep something in the mail.  She is my only regular reader.

On my grandmother’s 92nd birthday, she told my aunt that her second daughter’s family, my mother’s family, wrote to her more than anyone else called her on the telephone.  That may not have been true; a letter has more impact than a telephone call and persists in memory.

It is easy to forget the power of writing for a single person.  I hope this post is read by many people.  When a book comes out, everyone involved hopes that a hoard of readers will grab it and dig in.  Even with a hoard, the book must still be read by each individual.  Experiencing a piece of writing as a cultural phenomenon can have value, but the books that move us personally feel as if they are written for us; the writer crafted those words for our eyes.

With a book, that may not be true.  With a letter, it is.  When I write a letter, it is for my grandmother or for my sister or for my friend.  If someone else reads it, that may be fine (depending on the content of the letter), but that does not mean the letter is for them.  I do not address the recipient of my letter to a “gentle reader” the way Isaac Asimov sometimes did in his books.

The post From the Archives: Deb Vanasse on Push-ups and Poses from a few days ago talks about the power of being constrained by a form.  A writing exercise is one way to force that constraint.  Writing a letter is another.  When I write to someone specific in a letter, my writing becomes focussed and constrained in the same way it does when I work on a writing exercise.

In Brian Kiteley’s book The 3 A.M. Epiphany, he marries the idea of an exercise with a letter.  For the exercise, “Letters From Inside the Story,” the writer is instructed to “Have one character in a story you’re working on write a story to another character in the same story.”  Ariel Gore, in her book How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead, suggests letter writing as the first stepping stone to sending your writing out into the world.

A letter doesn’t cary much glory with it.  It is a humble form of writing.  We sometimes read the letters of famous people, but no one grows famous for their letters beyond the small circle of friends and family they write to.

In the end, the best reason to write a letter may be in the impact it has on the relationship between you and whoever you send it to.  My grandmother lives two thousand miles from here, but I am always in her apartment when one of my letters is on her table and that keeps both of us closer to each other.  Isn’t that the reason we write anything at all: to be closer to other human beings?  It's time to finish that letter and get it in the mail.


Categories: Arts & Culture

Writing Letters to Grandma

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 5:19am
Dear GrandmaI write letters to my grandmother.  I feel pressure to keep something in the mail.  She is my only regular reader.

On my grandmother’s 92nd birthday, she told my aunt that her second daughter’s family, my mother’s family, wrote to her more than anyone else called her on the telephone.  That may not have been true; a letter has more impact than a telephone call and persists in memory.

It is easy to forget the power of writing for a single person.  I hope this post is read by many people.  When a book comes out, everyone involved hopes that a hoard of readers will grab it and dig in.  Even with a hoard, the book must still be read by each individual.  Experiencing a piece of writing as a cultural phenomenon can have value, but the books that move us personally feel as if they are written for us; the writer crafted those words for our eyes.

With a book, that may not be true.  With a letter, it is.  When I write a letter, it is for my grandmother or for my sister or for my friend.  If someone else reads it, that may be fine (depending on the content of the letter), but that does not mean the letter is for them.  I do not address the recipient of my letter to a “gentle reader” the way Isaac Asimov sometimes did in his books.

The post From the Archives: Deb Vanasse on Push-ups and Poses from a few days ago talks about the power of being constrained by a form.  A writing exercise is one way to force that constraint.  Writing a letter is another.  When I write to someone specific in a letter, my writing becomes focussed and constrained in the same way it does when I work on a writing exercise.

In Brian Kiteley’s book The 3 A.M. Epiphany, he marries the idea of an exercise with a letter.  For the exercise, “Letters From Inside the Story,” the writer is instructed to “Have one character in a story you’re working on write a story to another character in the same story.”  Ariel Gore, in her book How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead, suggests letter writing as the first stepping stone to sending your writing out into the world.

A letter doesn’t cary much glory with it.  It is a humble form of writing.  We sometimes read the letters of famous people, but no one grows famous for their letters beyond the small circle of friends and family they write to.

In the end, the best reason to write a letter may be in the impact it has on the relationship between you and whoever you send it to.  My grandmother lives two thousand miles from here, but I am always in her apartment when one of my letters is on her table and that keeps both of us closer to each other.  Isn’t that the reason we write anything at all: to be closer to other human beings?  It's time to finish that letter and get it in the mail.


Categories: Arts & Culture

From the Archives: Deb: Start and Stuck

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 5:00am
“We think before the writing, and afterward. But during the writing, we listen.”Madeleine L’Engle
Lynn Freed had a problem most writers would die for: upon publication of her second book, her editor and agent were clamoring for the next one.  Not a sequel, her agent insisted, but something new, something fresh.
Freed had nothing.  Well, not exactly nothing.  She had a place, a bungalow she had visited as a schoolgirl in South Africa, overlooking the Indian Ocean.  The place still felt real to her, after all the years that had passed, real in the magical way that writers love.  And she had an idea, that in this bungalow a character would find herself truly at home.
So she began, as she describes in her essay “False Starts” (Writers Workshop in a Book: Squaw Valley Community of Writers on the Art of Fiction) . She set a woman named Anita on the bungalow’s veranda and wrote a few lovely paragraphs describing how she looked out at the sky and the ocean.  Then she came to a dead stop.  She began again, this time after imagining Anita’s mad sister had been banished to the bungalow.  The mad woman proved a distraction - this Freed discovered when her project again stalled.
As Freed aptly puts it, “Fiction has an odd way of both failing the tentative and resisting hot pursuit.” But she had begun, so she pushed on. She ditched the mad woman and returned to Anita on the veranda, wrote a couple of chapters, grew bold enough even to read them at author events. “Dying to know what happens,” kind readers would say to her afterwards.  “So was I,” Freed admits.
No matter how she began, the story stalled. Two years, and she’d written forty pages.  Four years, and the agent and editor stopped asking.  
Forced to write, students spend a lot of time staring at a blank screen or page, complaining they don’t know how to begin.  But real writers know how to begin.  We set out eagerly, finger to keyboard, pen to page. Then all too often, like Freed, we stall.
We stare at the place we got stuck.  What next? What next? What next? We tweak what we’ve written, twist options around in our brains, and still we get nowhere.  Frustration mounts, circling vulture-like with the pressure to produce something, anything, to get past the stuck point.  The project gets canned, shelved, stuck in a drawer unless like Freed we’re too compulsive or stubborn to let go.
But here’s the thing about stuck points: they’re invariably useful when we work through them, or more precisely, when they force us back to the beginning, not to tweak it but to pull up and out of the stall by forcing the issue of why we started the blasted thing in the first place, because what prompts us to start a story or poem can with irksome fickleness lead us astray. Yet if we dig through and under and around our starting point, be it a place or a voice or a character or an idea, if we allow for the messy mushing together of experience and imagination – composting, Ursula LeGuin calls its – we will find our way through, sometimes at the place we got stuck but more often back at the beginning.
Freed eventually landed at the Bellagio Study Centre in Italy.  Five weeks to write, to work on “a book of fiction,” which was all she could at that point say confidently about her project.  A little mix-up: her computer wouldn’t be available for two weeks.  So she started all over. Completely. She got out her notebook and wrote “Untitled” at the top of the page.  Then, she says, “I had to lie down and sleep for the rest of the day.” 
Whether it was the paper and pen or the time that had passed or the easing of external pressure to produce this particular book, the story broke loose.  It turned out to be a sequel after all, Ruth Frank from Freed’s previous book, with a lost cause of a lover and a father she thought had died but hadn’t, a story about place and displacement. The Bungalow ended up a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, beginning not with a woman or a verandah but a victim of murder.
My students hear this often: Writing is a recursive process of discovery.  Stuck points shove us back to where we began. They force us outside the circle to consider how we got there and why. They push us up and out, to try something new.  Posing as failure, stuck points offer hope.
And may we all be as candid as Lynn Freed in sharing our failures, which when we’re writing invariably accumulate faster than our successes.
Try This:  Stuck or not, return to your beginning.  Rewrite it completely, with a place or a scene or a character you hadn’t envisioned.  The idea isn’t to make use of this reworked start (though you might), but rather to see how it illuminates your project.
Check This Out: Writers Workshop in a Book: Squaw ValleyCommunity of Writers on the Art of Fiction, edited by Alan Cheuse and Lisa Alvarez .  This collection of faculty essays convinced me to apply for Squaw Valley, one of the most helpful and delightful weeks I’ve ever spent as a writer.  As Richard Ford says in his introduction to the book, at Squaw they put wonder on display. What better way to teach writing?

Deb cross-posts at www.selfmadewriter.blogspot.com.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Round Up of News & Events

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 7:00am
Congratulations to Sherry Simpson, who won the 2015 John Burroughs Medal for nature writing for her book Dominion of Bears: Living with Wildlife in Alaska. She's the author of two previous books, The Way Winter Comes: Alaska Stories, winner of the 1997 Chinook Literary Prize, and The Accidental Explorer: Wayfinding in Alaska. She's an associate professor in the UAA Creative Writing & Literary Arts program.

Registration is open for the Tutka Bay Writers' Retreat with Gary Geddes and Ann Eriksson. Details and register online at the website.

I having a great time at the AWP conference in Minneapolis. The Book Fair alone could take days to explore. Exhibitors include journals and publishers offering contests and open for submissions, plus retreats and conferences. In the coming weeks, I'll include these opportunities gleaned from the AWP Book Fair. 
Happy Writing!
Morgan

EVENTS IN ANCHORAGEWe Came to Stay: Anchorage Untold Stories, two free Anchorage Centennial events. 
Performance, April 11, 7:30pm, UAA Wendy Williamson Auditorium. An evening of dynamic storytelling: our cultures, our dances, our music, our languages, Anchorage our home.  This multimedia performance explores a deeper understanding of what it means to create a sense of place.
Storyshare, April 19, 3-5pm, Loussac Library Innovations Lab, 4th Floor. Bring a dish and your own story to share as we explore how you decided to set roots in Anchorage, created a sense of place, and reached beyond to become part of the larger community. 

Savor the Rising Words: 49 Writers and Great Harvest Bread Co. invite you to a Poetry Reading in Honor of National Poetry Month. Thursday, April 16, 7-8:30pm. Great Harvest Bread Co. 570 East Benson Blvd. Poets and artists from across Alaska have submitted original works to the Savor the Rising Words Poetry Broadside Invitational Exhibit on display at Great Harvest through April. Come enjoy this unique opportunity to view the broadsides on display and hear the poets read their work. Broadsides will be available for purchase. Stop by during regular business hours to check out the cool exhibit.

Alaska One-Minute Play Festival: 60 New Plays by Alaskan Writers, April 12-14, 8pm at the Sydney Laurence Theatre. The One-Minute Play Festival (#1MPF), a NYC-based theatre company,  is America's largest and longest running short form theatre company. They have partnered with Perseverance Theatre to bring this amazing festival to Alaksa. #1MPF is a baromoter project, which investigates the zeitgeist of different communities through dialogue and consensus building sessions and a performance of many moments. #1MPF creates locally sourced playwright-focused community events, with the goal of promoting the spirit of radical inclusion by representing local cultures of playwrights of different age, gender, race, cultures and points of career. The work attempts to reflect the theatrical landscape of local artistic communities by creating a dialogue between the collective conscious and the individual voice. Tickets at CenterTix.
Events at the UAA Bookstore: all events are informal, free and open to the public.
  • April 14, 5-7pm. Linda Dunegan, author of The Price of Whistleblowing and one of the highest ranking female officers in the Alaska Air National Guard, presents Scandal of the Military. 
  • April 15, 5-7pm. UAA Undergraduate English Students: Reading and Writings
  • April 28, 5-7pm. Andrea Gregovich, translator of USSR: Diary of a Perestroika Kid, presents Readings and Craft Talk. She'll  discuss her work with Russian author Vladimir Kozlov, the creative process for literary translations, and her work with contemporary Russian writers.
Alaska Writers Guild, April 15, 7pm, Loussac Public Conference Room. Kathleen Tarr will speak  on "What a Dead Trappist Monk Taught Me About Writing: My Journey Through Spiritual Memoir with Thomas Merton."

Author Visit at Loussac: Live via Satellite Join Susan Jane Gilman live via OWL! Gilman is the author of Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a Smart Mouth Goddess, Hypocrite in a White Pouffy Dress, Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, and The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. She'll be speaking about her writing process, the jump from non-fiction to fiction, and more! Thursday, April 16th at 7pm in the Public Conference Room (1st floor) at Loussac. For more information contact Stacia at mcgourtysa@muni.org.
Poetry Parley: Join Dorothy Parker & Friends for "A Night at the Algonquin."
Thursday, April 16th, 6:30-9pm, at the Hugi-Lewis Studio (1800 W. Northern Lights Blvd.).Contact poetryparley@gmail.com for more info.

49 Writers Classes. Find full information on the 49 Writers website.
  • How to Publish Your Book on Kindle with Lawrence Weiss, April 18, 9-12pm
  • Writing in 360 Degrees with Don Rearden, April 23, 6-9pm
Crosscurrents: Alaska Writer Laureate Frank Soos and panelists Eva Saulitis, Susanna Mishler, and David Stevenson. A wide ranging discussion about how writers present themselves on the page in poetry and essay, as opposed to the people they may be in the rest of their lives. Wednesday, April 29, 7pm at the Anchorage Museum.
EVENTS AROUND ALASKAONLINE CLASSESLynn Lovegreen will lead an online workshop on writing YA/NA historical romance sponsored by Young Adults Chapter of Romance Writers of America (YARWA). Writing YA/NA Historical Romance. Online: May 4-22, 2015. $10 for YARWA members ($20 for non-members). Register: http://yarwa.com/programs/
SOUTHCENTRAL, MAT-SU, KENAI PENINSULAThe Living Room: Stories for Grownups, Friday, April 10, 7pm in the back room at Jitters, in Eagle River.  Hear stories and poems from people in our community who love all things literary. Free, with refreshments served afterwards. Come mingle with other writers and readers. Sign up to read or just come and listen. 

Side Burns: Homer writers' social. April 10, 7pm. Upstairs at Alice's.

Fireside Books, Palmer, April 11, 11am. Meet Kaylene Johnson and Dick Griffith. Dick Griffith is the quintessential Alaskan outdoorsman, and Kaylene Johnson has written the definitive biography of him. Here's your chance to meet them both. Kaylene was last month's featured writer for this blog.

Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, June 12-16. 2015’s keynote speaker is Andre Dubus III, and there are a host of amazing writers on the faculty this year (as there are every year). This year's post-conference workshop at Tutka Bay Lodge, Finding the Geography of Our Work, will be led by 2014 Kingsley Tufts Award winner Afaa Weaver, June 16-18,

SOUTHEASTIn honor of Poetry Month (APRIL!), please join the Burn Thompson Writing Group for a Poetry Reading. Sunday April 19, 2-4:30pm, downtown library conference room. They have space for a few more readers. Contact Sarah if you're interested at isto@acsalaska.net. Refreshments will be served.
Literary Happy Hour: a new monthly event in Juneau. Sunday, April 26, 4:30-6pm, Coho's, 51 Egan Drive. Free - No Host Bar. Readings by Libby Bakalar (author of the Juneau-based blog One Hot Mess) and Geoff Kirsch (Juneau Empire columnist and humorist).  These two writers (who happened to be married) are truly funny!  Check out their work by clicking on their names. See you at Coho's!  
INTERIORStatewide Poetry Contest Literary Reading, April 11, 7pm. Admission free. Bear Gallery, 3rd Floor, Alaska Centennial Center for the Arts, Pioneer Park, 2300 Airport Rd., Fairbanks, Alaska. Please join Fairbanks Arts Association in celebrating the winners with a literary reading and reception to celebrate poetry. Everyone is invited. The winners will read their poems. All poets are invited to attend and read their poems if time allows. Please RSVP to carey@fairbanksarts.org to read. If you are not able to be in Fairbanks, you can call in. The winners are listed on their website.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR WRITERSPUBLICATION & PRODUCTIONCirque is looking for a poetry editor. If you are interested please send a brief bio siting your poetic and editing experience. If interested, contact Sandy Kleven at cirquejournal@yahoo.com.  These are the incentives:  1) You can add this role to your bio.  2) You will be listed on the masthead. 3) We try to give a gift always - generally an art print from a Cirque contributor. 4) We introduce you at the launch and other readings. 
Call for Submissions: Brandish, a collection of essential writing about life and work in rural Alaska. Projected publication, Summer 2016. Submit your writing of Rural Alaska: memoir, poetry, essay, social commentary, bright ideas, and system critique, (and if you can't say it straight), try fiction, to: wild.blue.darling@gmail.com.
Cyclamens and Swords is accepting poetry submissions on relationships for their August edition; also short stories on any subject. Click here for submission guidelines. 
WritingRaw.com is looking for submissions for the May issue – fiction of all styles, poetry, essays and other assorted writings, and book promotions. 
Gleanings from AWPRock & Sling seeks the highest quality work, work which embraces, wrestles with, argues with, celebrates and brushes up against our ideas of faith, whether it be on the cultural or personal level. In the words of the journal’s founders, “an accepted Rock & Sling submission may not even make explicit reference to Christianity, but it will maintain a universal spiritual curiosity.” Above all, they desire work which seeks beauty and excellence, in form and in meaning, and explores the boundaries of what we know to be true. Seeking poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, graphic art and comics, art and photography, reviews, how to pack for church camp.
Oversound considers submissions between September 1 and April 30. Send three to five poems (of any length) as a single .doc or .pdf attachment to oversoundpoetry at gmail dot com along with a cover letter and short bio. Be sure to include your name and email address in the header of your submission. Simultaneous submissions are ok as long as we are notified as soon as a poem is accepted elsewhere. We do not accept previously published work.
Bodega Magazine is always looking for new fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Send up to 3000 words of prose or up to 5 poems at a time. They read submissions all year.
Trio House Press is an independent literary press publishing three or more collections of poems annually. Submit full-length poetry manuscripts between July 1 and July 31. $20 submission fee per manuscript.
CONTESTS & GRANTSGleanings from AWPEssay Press is launching its first open book contest, with Kristin Prevallet as guest judge. The reading period opens January 16th, 2015 and closes at 9 p.m. on May 1st, 2015. For more information, please go to the link.
Trio House Press is an independent literary press publishing three or more collections of poems annually. They are accepting submissions for the 2015 Louise Bogan Award for Artistic Merit and Excellence and the Trio Award through April 30.  


CONFERENCES, RETREATS & RESIDENCIESRegistration is open for the Tutka Bay Writers Retreat featuring two outstanding guest instructors, Ann Eriksson and Gary Geddes! Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 13, 2015 at the fabulous Tutka Bay Lodge.

National Arts Strategies: Call for Creative Community Fellows. Application deadline for the second cohort: April 26. Around the world there are artists, activists, community organizers, administrators and entrepreneurs working as change-makers in their communities - using arts and culture as vehicles to drive physical and social transformations. During the nine-month fellowship, fellows are given tools, training and access to a community of support in order to fuel their visions for community change, spark new ideas and help propel them into action. Click here for more information.
The Wrangell Mountains Center residency program aims to support artists of all genres, writers, and inquiring minds in the creation of their work. Our organization and community will provide unrestricted work time and space to focused individuals. We invite applicants with creative and inquisitive minds who will both add to and benefit from the interdisciplinary efforts at our campus in McCarthy, Alaska and the surrounding Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Visit the website for details.
North Words Writers Symposium, May 27-30, Skagway. Keynote speaker is Mary Roach, plus a bevvy of Alaska's best authors.

Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, Homer, AK, June 12-16, 2015: keynote speaker is Andre Dubus III, and there are a host of amazing writers on the faculty this year (as there are every year).

Last Frontier Theatre Conference, June 14-20, in Valdez, features new work by playwrights from around the country. There are evening performances, 10-minute play slams, even a fringe festival. The deadline is past for play submissions, but they may still need actors.

Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop presents RiverSong with Frank Soos, Michelle McAfee, Robin Child, and Nancy Cook, July 22-27, 2015 - McCarthy to Chitina. The Wrangell Mountains Writing Workshop is pleased to partner with McCarthy River Tours & Outfitters to host a six-day, five-night adventure in the fabulous Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. This year’s workshop will feature poet and essayist, Frank Soos, who is currently serving as Alaska’s writer laureate, joined by accomplished singer-songwriter Michelle McAfee, backcountry banjo-diva Robin Child, and workshop director Nancy Cook. Together we will explore the ways wilderness can help inspire songs, stories, poems, and essays. Activities include an opening reading/performance and craft sessions in the comfort of the Wrangell Mountains Center’s facility in McCarthy, followed by three nights and four days of creative inquiry along the Kennicott, Nizina, Chitina, and Copper Rivers. Space is limited to eight student writers/ songwriters.

2015 AWG & SCBWI Annual Writer’s Conference, September 19-20, Anchorage. Early registration starts May 2015. www.AlaskaWritersGuild.com

Gleanings from AWPWriting Workshops in Greece: Participants can opt for a two-week or month-long combination of workshops and residency. June 9-24 two week workshop; June 9-July 7 month-long workshop. With Christopher Bakken (food and travel writing), Carolyn  Forché (poetry), Natalie Bakopoulos (prose), Joanna Eleftheriou (Greek language and culture).

The Millay Colony for the Arts offers two-week or one-month residencies to visual artists, composers, and wrtiers between the months of April and November. Resident artists get private rooms, studios, and all meals during their stay at the pastoral campus. Application deadlines: October 1, 2015 for April-July, 2016; March 1, 216 for August-November, 2016.

Split this Rock 2016 Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation and Witness, April 14-17, 2016. Call for Proposals: workshops, panel or roundtable discussions, and themed group readings.  Deadline: June 30, 2015.  For guidelines and to submit, visit splitthisrock.submittable.com.

Writers Week at Idyllwild Arts (poetry, fiction, nonfiction), July 6-10. Emerging Writer Fellowships include tuition, housing, meals and fees. Fellowship application deadline: April 15.





Categories: Arts & Culture

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