Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Alaska Shorts: "Nome, 1953" by John Tetpon

This excerpt comes from Tetpon’s memoir-in-progress.

SOON AFTER GRANDMA was buried, our family moved to Nome, a small Northwest Alaska town with a long history of gold fever, frontiersmen, lawlessness, taverns, bars, cars, and churches. In 1953, the atmosphere of a rowdy frontier town still hung heavy in the air. Some bar owners wore cowboy hats, chewed tobacco, and wore fancy cowboy boots — like the one who allegedly kicked a Native man to death in front of his bar. The owner said the man had made a pass at his wife. Some said that in exchange for a $250,000 bribe, the bar owner got off.

The town’s newspaper, a tabloid-sized publication called the Nome Nugget, rarely ran a story about Native people. It was as if Native people didn’t exist. In Nome, Native people were like background noise — and looked upon as nuisances. Shopkeepers, restaurant owners, bar owners, and owners of seedy hotels hung signs on their windows that said No Eskimos or Dogs Allowed.
Nome was a small town, and everybody seemed to know everybody else’s business. Dad would always remind us we were to keep the family name clean. He and Mom never drank like lots of other Native people did in town. So we didn’t grow up in a home that was terror-filled as our neighbors did. Which is probably a good thing. But we were tied to a religious lifestyle, with dysfunctions similar to those of families crippled by alcohol.

In Nome, the Evangelical Covenant Church, of which I was a member since birth, practiced an acceptable form of racial division — white members sat on the left side, and Native members sat on the right side. I didn’t think much of it then. It was normal. And although “love thy neighbor as yourself” was preached from the pulpit, the all-white leadership never said a word about prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination in Nome, which was everywhere.

Having grown up in the small, protective village of Shaktoolik, I was unaware of the evil that people can visit upon others, especially evil from those who hide behind religion and Jesus. One such man was a choir director at the church, a man who also was a radio announcer at the local Armed Forces Radio Station, AFRS. He would spend time at our home, eating with us and visiting. 

One day he asked my parents if I could spend the night with him at the Covenant Church parsonage. I didn’t think anything of it because he was supposedly a man of God, a good person. Upon getting to the home where he lived, he undressed me and placed me up on his bed and covered me and crawled in beside me. I felt his hands on my private parts. That night he introduced me to feelings I had never before felt. I was at once ashamed and dirty. He told me to never let anyone know.

Other times, he would bring me to the radio station and touch me where I knew deep inside there was something wrong. I began to hate seeing him in church and having him at our house, laughing and talking with my parents as if there was nothing wrong. I grew to hate him. I knew deep within that something was taken from me, something that was sacred. 

I could not tell my parents. What would they think? What would they do? I kept that experience buried deep inside. In my adult years, I drank a lot. The pain never went away. It was always there.

After attending the University of Alaska in Anchorage and Fairbanks, John Tetpon was awarded a year’s fellowship at Yale University. A former reporter for the Anchorage Daily News and the Anchorage Times, he also worked for the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, and several Native organizations. After forty-plus years in public service and the private sector, he is now retired and spends his time as an artist, writer, and musician.

Monday, August 31, 2015

From the Archives: Deb Vanasse on That Glint of Light

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. 
~Anton Chekhov

Description has a bad rap: bland, boring, basic. But it's also true that description is often overdone, or done badly. 

In Thanks, But This Isn’t for Us, literary agent Jessica Page Morrell explains that good description should get readers out of their worlds by anchoring them in the setting and creating mood. Good description also reveals character and develops emotions. It establishes credibility for future events, and it intensifies scenes, slowing the pace and causing the reader to linger. In short, it’s primarily through description that the abstract is made understandable and that readers are able to suspend disbelief. 

Good description is beautiful, and as Mark Doty says, “Beauty is simply accuracy, to come as close as we can to what seems to be real.”

An obvious path to good description is attentiveness, which is broader than you might think. Sensory images are lovely. We draw meaning from what we see and intimacy from what we taste and touch. Sounds focus our attention, while smells affect the limbic, primitive part of our brains. 

From sensory images, it’s a short hop to show, don’t tell, that old writer’s adage. It’s among the first lessons writers learn: Telling reads like synopsis, while showing reads like art. 

But it’s also possible to get way too much of a good thing, especially if you think showing happens only through sensory images. In fact, if taken too much to heart, show, don’t tell is bad advice. Study the writers you love, and you’ll find that part of showing is telling: what characters think, how they feel, what it all means.

Consider this passage from one of my favorite authors, Seth Kantner, in his novel Ordinary Wolves:

Dawna stood still.  The morning night and streetlight shared shadows on her face, glinting her eyes, laying dusk caves under her chin.  Frost jeweled the black silk of her hair.  She stood with her knees close, slightly bent in the cold, her stiff hard tennis shoes pressed together.  A smile lifted the top line of her lip, folding it back provocatively.  Behind her the school waited, for me a terribly cold heated place, for Dawna a pasture of popularity.  My chest was full of air and empty.  I loved her.  I wanted to hold her.  The magazines and TV didn’t know; beauty was Eskimo and brown and named Dawna Wolfglove.

We see the shared shadows, the glint in her eyes, her frost-jeweled hair. We see how Dawna stands, how she smiles. But it’s the oblique parts that set this description apart: the dusk caves lain under her chin, the school a cold heated place, the chest full of air and empty. And the telling is crucial : I loved her.  I wanted to hold her.  The magazines and TV didn’t know; beauty was Eskimo and brown and named Dawna Wolfglove.

“If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.” If description were only a matter of precise, camera-like attentiveness, we wouldn’t have this beautiful line from George Eliot’s Middlemarch.

“Description is made both more moving and more exact when it is acknowledged that it is invariably INCOMPLETE,” Doty says, invoking capital letters as he points out that not everything can be described, or needs to be. “The choice of what to evoke, to make any scene seem REAL to the reader is a crucial one,” he adds. A few elements to ground the reader, and a few to evoke surprise - these, Doty says, will rescue a scene from the generic – from the bland, boring, and basic. 

Try This: Freewrite a scene showing yourself in your childhood home, revealing specific emotions tied to specific times and/or corners within the place. The scene may be fiction or fact. Do plenty of showing, but don't be afraid to strategically tell, acknowledging what can't be said or evoking surprise.

Check This Out: Poet Mark Doty ponders The Art of Description in a slim volume by the same name from Graywolf Press. The book reads like a lot like a poem, packed with beauty and distilled thoughts and lyrical lines from the masters.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Weekly Roundup of Writing Opportunities for August 28

Vacation is over, most visitors have left and we have our city back to ourselves. Sitting in my backyard overlooking Chester Creek, every morning I see more leaves turned yellow. While it’s August still, autumn is around the corner and time for us to look for inspiring events. Here are some exciting possibilities to consider. 

Our autumn schedule of classes is now live! Are you interested in writing thrillers? Lyrical language? Spiritual writing? How about writing about love? Maintaining your social media network? How about just needing to jumpstart your writing? Want to work on reflection in personal essays or maybe the use of scene in fiction and nonfiction? There are many different classes available online and in Anchorage, Juneau, and Haines. Check it out and register at the 49 Writers website
49 Writers is seeking two "blitz team" volunteers, one to hang fliers in six Eagle River locations and one to hang fliers in five Spenard locations. Fliers arrive by mail to be posted two to three weeks in advance of our signature events. Willing to help? Email 49writers (at) gmail.com.

Alaska Book Week will soon be upon us scheduled for Oct. 3 -11. We would like to invite everyone to sign up by clicking the participation form on the right side of the website at www.alaskabookweek.com Once you submit your form, the coordinator will be in contact with you soon. This year, we are making more of an effort to create lists of Alaskan authors and possible venues so that we can expand on our yearly celebration--and provide more representation for authors and their wonderful books!
We would also like to remind Alaska Book Week participants that we are incorporating a YouTube campaign into our yearly celebration.

For questions or comments, please contact the Alaska Book Week coordinator at akbookweek@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

49 Writers Volunteer Seta


On Tuesday, September 8 at 7pm, Gary Geddes and Ann Eriksson will be be part of a Crosscurrents event at the Anchorage Museum - The Engaged Muse: Politics, Poetry and Narrative - What do these strange bedfellows have in common? Isn’t politics, like sex, verboten at the dinner table or in polite society? If you think of Canadians as passive or “nice,” Ann Eriksson and Gary Geddes are a couple of writers who don’t hesitate to write about social and political issues, without letting content overwhelm their art and without becoming ideologues or partisans. Join these writers and moderator Jeremy Pataky for this live, on-stage discussion.

Meet author Zoe Ferraris presented via teleconference on Thursday, September 17th, 7:00pm at the Innovation Lab in the Lousasac Library.
ZoĆ« Ferraris moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the first Gulf War. She lived in a conservative Muslim community with her then-husband and his family, a group of Saudi- Palestinians. Her debut novel, Finding Nouf won the LA Times Book Award. That novel and its follow-ups, City of Veils and Kingdom of Strangers, have been international bestsellers, publishing in over forty countries. A new children’s book, The Hunt for the Pyxis, will be published this summer. It is the first of a trilogy for mid-grade readers.
For more information contact Stacia at mcgourtysa@muni.org  
Event address: Z.J. Loussac Public Library
3600 Denali Street Anchorage, AK 99503

Nature and Travel Writing Class
Anchorage essayist and author Bill Sherwonit will teach a 12-week nature and travel writing class beginning Sept. 16, in the Sierra Club office downtown. Participants in this workshop-style class will explore and refine their own writing styles, with an emphasis on the personal essay form. The class will also read and discuss works by some of America’s finest nature and travel writers. The cost is $240. To sign up for this Wednesday night class (7 to 9:30 p.m.), or for more information, contact Sherwonit at 245-0283 or akgriz@hotmail.com. Further information about the teacher is also available at www.billsherwonit.alaskawriters.com.

Anchorage Museum has posted their Schedule of Programs for July and August. Visit www.anchoragemuseum.org/media for the full list of events. Below are some of the highlights. To confirm details and dates, call the Marketing and Public Relations Department at (907) 929-9227.

Promote your book at the National Federation of Press Women Annual Conference, September 10 – 12 at the Captain Cook Hotel Anchorage. Alaska Professional Communicators will provide at no charge an opportunity for authors to sign and sell their books. Attendees, conference speakers, and APC members can sign up for a place at the authors' tables on both Fri., Sept. 11, 3:45 - 4:30 PM and Sat., Sept. 12, 4:00 - 4:30 PM. Contact Lizzie Newell at lizzie-n@gci.net to let her know the name of your book(s). We will provide attendees a list of participating authors and their books.

Poetry Parley will be on hiatus for July and August. Starting September 20th at Hugi-Lewis Studio, Parley will kick off a new season with readings from 10 (plus) local poets. There will be no marquee poet. Send a note to poetryparley@gmail.com  if you want to be considered. We will hold a few slots for new readers.

Events at the UAA Bookstore 

Tuesday, September 1, from 5:00pm-7:00pm
Addressing Local Needs amid Global Attention to the Changing Arctic  
Guest speakers Henry Huntington, Prof. Raymond Anthony and Jennifer Schmidt share their views on emerging scientific, climate change, and indigenous issues in the Arctic. The relationship between local and global interests will be highlighted.  Topics include: Indigenous Science: Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic (ELOKA), Food Security and Climate Ethics, Human Activities and Ecosystems in the Arctic TUNDRA.

Friday, September 4, from 4:00pm-6:00pm
Ioana Lobontiu presents An Experiment in Nostalgia. She explores in writing and photography her return to Romania, her childhood memories and the overall theme “reality in relation to nostalgia”. 
Refreshments will be served. 

Tuesday, September 8 from 5:00pm-7:00pm
Guest speaker Larry Ilarion Merculieff , who has been a wisdom keeper and passionate advocate for indigenous rights, will present Moving into the 5th World, Indigenous Elder teachings concerning movement into the 5th World, also known as the 5th Hoop.
Larry Ilarion Merculieff is an Aleut, raised in a traditional way.  He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Buffet Finalist Award for Indigenous Leadership, the Environmental Excellence Award for lifetime achievement from the Alaska Forum on the Environment, Rasmuson Foundation award for Creative Non-Fiction, and the Alaska Native Writers on the Environment Award.  He is co-author of Stop Talking: Indigenous Ways of Teaching and Learning, published by UAA and APU in 2008.

Wednesday, September 9, from 5:00pm-7:00pm
Prof. Robert Madigan presents How Memory Works—and How to Make It Work for You. Robert Madigan is UAA Professor Emeritus of Psychology. His new book, How Memory Works--and How to Make I Work for You provides skills and techniques for improving memory function. 

Friday, September 11, from 4:00pm-6:00pm
Lt Col. Ret. Linda Dunegan, author of the book The Price of Whistleblowing presents Four Years of My Life. At this event, Linda Dunegan discusses her life, dedication to the Alaska Air National Guard, and the challenges she faces in her new career.

Monday, September 14, from 5:00pm-7:00pm 
Poets John Morgan and Tom Sexton present Readings from their New Books. John Morgan’s new book Archives of the Air and Tom Sexton’s collection A Ladder of Cranes are featured at this special event. 
Monday, September 14, from 7:30pm-9:00pm at UAA/APU Consortium Library, room 307 
Playwright Anne Hanley and Poet Stephen Bolen will discuss The Winter Bear, a play that tells the story of an Alaska Native teenager who rises above the traumas of his past to become a leader with the help of Sidney Huntington, a Koyukon elder. The Winter Bear Project has traveled to 31 communities throughout Alaska.
For this event, at 7:00pm there is free parking in the Library Lot, Library NE Lot, and East Campus Central Lot.)

Thursday, September 17 from 5:00pm-7:00pm at UAA/APU Consortium Library, room 302A
Ted Galen Carpenter:  U.S. Foreign Policy
Ted Galen Carpenter is Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. His recent books are America's Coming War with China: A Collision Course over Taiwan and The Korean Conundrum.  The Cato Institute is known as libertarian think tank that advocates for a U.S.  non-interventionist foreign policy.  This event is sponsored with the Alaska World Affairs Council.  Room cap is 30.
For this event, there is free parking in the Library Lot, Library NE Lot, East Garage, South Lot.

Monday, September 21 from 1:00pm-3:00pm at UAA/APU Consortium Library, room 307
Instagram and Social Media with Julia O’Malley
Come and learn the tricks of Instagram with award winning journalist and social media expert Julia O’Malley.  Julia O’Malley currently serves as the UAA 21st Atwood Chair of Journalism and is widely known for her column in the Anchorage Daily News from 2009 to 2014.. Over the years her work has appeared in Huffington Post, The Guardian, National Geographic, Al Jazeera America, Eater, the Oregonian and PBS.org. Julia O’Malley is a recipient of the Berger Award, from Columbia Journalism School, the Darrell Sifford Memorial Prize from Missouri School of Journalism, and won first place for general commentary from the Society of Features Journalists. 
 For this event, there is free parking in the Library Lot, Library NE Lot, East Garage, South Lot.

All UAA Campus Bookstore events are informal, free and open to the public. There is free parking for bookstore events in the South Lot, West Campus Central Lot (behind Rasmuson Hall), Sports Lot and Sports NW Lot.
Note: UAA Campus Bookstore podcasts are posted in iTunes or iTunes U –just search UAA or UAA Campus Bookstore.    

Local Library Events

Book Signings

On Thursday, September 10, Gary Geddes and Ann Eriksson will be reading at 7pm at the Kachemak Bay Campus of the Kenai Peninsula College. 

This September, 49 Writers and Alaska Quarterly Review are co-sponsoring a tour that will combine live literary events in the Southeast Alaska communities of Haines and Juneau with distance programming, in pursuit of 49 Writers’ goal to serve writers across the state. These events are supported in part by a grant by the National Endowment of the Arts.

The tour will begin in Haines with a free public reading by Melinda Moustakis accompanied by local writers and musicians on the evening of September 18, 6pm, at Haines Public Library. Moustakis will teach two workshops on September 18 and 20; registration information available on the 49 Writers website at http://www.49writingcenter.org/. On September 19 at 1pm, there will be a statewide discussion of Moustakis’s book Bear Down, Bear North on the statewide Online With Libraries (OWL) system and locally at the Haines Public Library. 

In Juneau, Moustakis will teach two workshops on September 22 and 23; registration information available on the 49 Writers website at http://www.49writingcenter.org/. She will end her stay in Alaska with a CrossCurrents event on September 24 at 6:30pm at the Juneau Downtown Library. The event is entitled “Shaped by the North” and will feature writers Moustakis, Ernestine Hayes, Brendan Jones, and  photographer Ben Huff discussing how the landscape has shaped them as artists and shaped their work.



The Alaska Literary Awards were established in 2014 by the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation, through a generous gift from Peggy Shumaker and Joe Usibelli, to recognize and support writers of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting, screenwriting, and mixed genres.  Any Alaska writer over the age of 18 who is not a full-time student is eligible to apply. Quality of the work submitted is the primary consideration in determining who receives the awards. A select number of $5,000 awards will be awarded this year. For more information, and to apply, go to :http://bit.ly/2015AKLitAwards. The deadline for entries is August 31st, 2015 at 9:59 AKDT.

The Connie Boochever Artist Fellowship awards recognize and support Alaska emerging artists of exceptional talent. In the 2015 cycle, a select number of $2,500 fellowships will be awarded to individual artists working in visual art, including film, digital and media arts. For more information, and to apply, go to: http://bit.ly/2015BoocheverFellows. The deadline for entries is August 31st, 2015 at 9:59 AKDT.

The 2016 Governor's Awards ceremony will be held in Juneau on Thursday, January 28th. We will also continue the tradition of scheduling CHAMP Day (Culture, Humanities, Arts & Museums Partners), a legislative fly-in day, on Wednesday, January 27th. Please start brainstorming ideas for nominees and consider submitting a nomination! The nomination process will open in August. This year's Arts categories will be: Margaret Nick Cooke Award for Alaska Native Arts & Languages, Business Leadership, Arts Advocacy and Individual Artist. A list of previous awardees can be found at https://education.alaska.gov/aksca/pdf/Past_Recipients_GAAH.pdf.

2016 Statewide Arts and Culture Conference will take place in Anchorage, Thursday, April 28th through Saturday, April 30th. We are in the process of exploring compelling themes, topics and national speakers for the convening. Like our last conference, we will be engaging Alaskan artists in the planning and production of the event. Be on the lookout for the opportunity to apply to be a conference Partner Artist, which will open in the fall. If you have any ideas to share with us, please send them our way by emailing aksca.info@alaska.gov

The Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) is conducting a survey to inform its Live. Work. Play. Initiative, which seeks to make Anchorage the number one city in America to live work and play by 2025. If you live in Anchorage and care about the arts, please take a moment to add your voice to this survey-it's just two VERY short questions! https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LiveWorkPlayAnchorage

Poetry Out Loud registration deadline for schools is October 15, 2015Click here to hear from the 2015 National Poetry Out Loud Champion from Alaska, Maeva Ordaz. 

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

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 13chairs.com.

University of Alaska Press announces the release of Connecting Alaskans 
Telecommunications in Alaska from Telegraph to Broadband by Heather E. Hudson. The book will be available in September 2015. Cloth Price is $60.00 and it is also available in ebook.

Submission deadline: September 21, 2015
Publication date: December 21, 2015 
CIRQUE is an independent literary journal staffed by volunteers, supported by readers and writers, and publishing in print and online. Cirque publishes the work of writers and artists from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.  We are dedicated to building a larger reading audience for Cirque's contributors bringing their work to the world in a publication of the highest quality.  We publish work in all genres and look forward to reviewing your submissions.  For submission guidelines see www.cirquejournal.com
Donations: Please make donations at www.paypal.com to this email address, cirquejournal@gmail.com, or send a check to Sandra Kleven or Michael Burwell (editors) at CIRQUE, 3978 DEFIANCE STREET, ANCHORAGE, AK 99504
Incentives: Donate $100 or more and you will be considered a sponsor.  Your name will be listed in the issue and we will send you an 8 x 10 art print from one of Cirque's fine artists. Donate $50 and we will send an art print (8 x 10).  Donate an amount below $50 and we will send a signed "art" postcard with our thanks.  We ask for donations by email, twice yearly.  Your amazing response has made it easy to produce the journal with limited requests for funds. 
Big prize: Artist, Jo Going, of Homer, Alaska, has donated an original water color to be given to the first person to contribute $1000 to Cirque.  See details on page 4 of the new issue at www.cirquejournal.com
Subscriptions:  $40 per year.  Go to www.cirquejournal.com to subscribe.  Or send an email to cirquejournal@gmail.com and we'll work out payment.

The Alaska Quarterly Review will publish Sparks: A Conversation in Poems and Paintings in its entirety in the May 2016 issue. You can see, in order, each of Peggy Shumaker's poems and each of Kesler Woodward's paintings from their year-long collaboration.  

As we all know, back-to-school time is getting close. This also means the issue of author signing is raised at the schools. Barnes & Noble has scheduled school book fairs and fundraising events and is in demand for local children’s book author presenters. If you are interested in participating in these events, please contact Renee Millner, Community Business Development Manager at 907-279-7323 or email her at crm2784@bn.com

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.