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Greetings from our new Executive Director!

49 Writers - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 5:00am
Erin Coughlin Hollowell
It has been my pleasure to be part of the Alaska literary scene for the last fifteen years in a variety of roles. Alaskan writers are such an amazing group of people, full of spirit and intelligence and a fierce desire to improve their craft. As the new Executive Director, I look forward to working with the board of 49 Writers and with all of you to continue creating an organization that fosters a vibrant community that comes together to inspire, create, and share. 
This is 49 Writers' fifth year working with writers from around the state. Such an amazing trajectory in a mere five years - classes, workshops, readings, special programs, and more. Together we can continue to build upon this strong foundation. And so I ask you, what can 49 Writers do (or continue to do) to help your writing practice? What is your vision as a member of this passionate community? I have an open heart for whatever will serve all of us so that we each have a way to strengthen and share our written voice. 
Please feel free to get in touch with me through 49writers@gmail.com with your ideas. I can't wait to get started!
Erin Hollowell, 49 Writers Executive Director
Categories: Arts & Culture

Bathroom Art

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 4:00am

Isn’t this a cool image?  What do you think it is?

Could this be a black and white photograph photoshopped to look like a print or painting?  How about a shower curtain caught first thing in the morning?

 

Categories: Arts & Culture

Weekly Round-Up of Alaska Writing News and Events

49 Writers - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 7:07am
Erin Coughlin Hollowell joins 49 Writers as Executive Director
Erin Coughlin HollowellA note from the 49 Writers Board of Directors: 
After a rigorous search for a new leader, 49 Writers is pleased to announce that Erin Coughlin Hollowell is at the helm of our statewide organization! 
Erin is a familiar face in Alaska’s literary world. She is the assistant coordinator of the Kachemak Bay Writing Conference and the current administrator for the Friends of the Homer Public Library. As an author and a poet, Erin is the recipient of the Alaska Literary Award (2014); Connie Boochever Award (2013); Ramsuson Foundation Fellowship (2013); and the author of Pause, Traveler, a collection of poems published by Red Hen Press (2013).
Don’t miss the members-only upcoming agent event in Anchorage. If you’re a 49 Writers member, you should have received an e-vite for a July 14 event with literary agent Jeff Kleinman.  In Juneau, our next member event is on August 6 from 7-9 pm; again, members should watch for details via email. (Not a member? Head over to our website to join.) And stay tuned for the fall schedule including Melinda Moustakis’ (Bear Down, Bear North - 2012 Flannery O’Connor Award Recipient for Short Fiction) NEA-funded tour of Southeast Alaska. 
49 Writers flagship program, The Tutka Bay Writers Retreat, will take place September 11-13, 2015. Tutka Bay Lodge recently joined a small group of resorts/hotels recognized by National Geographic as one of the world’s unique lodges! Register today before the last few spaces are gone.

Last but not least, we're looking for authors to get involved with Alaska Book Week Oct. 3 -11. Visit www.alaskabookweek.com and click the 2015 logo to participate. This year, you can also get involved with a video interview.
49 Writers Volunteer J.T. TorresEVENTS IN ANCHORAGEPoetry 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.comif you want to be considered. We will hold a few slots for new readers.
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.
Call for Big Wild Bike Stories. The Anchorage Museum invites bicycle commuters to submit their harrowing, funny and interesting stories about using Anchorage’s public trail system. The Anchorage Museum and Bike Anchorage will lead a bike tour on July 25 based on rider submissions. Email stories to bike@anchoragemuseum.org by July 13. On July 25, 1-3pm, take a tour of Anchorage through the stories of bike commuters. The Anchorage Museum and Bike Anchorage lead a bike tour of Anchorage based on the harrowing, funny, and interesting experiences people have encountered using Anchorage’s public trail system. Riders are encouraged to wear helmets and pack their own water. Register online. $10
Call for Stories of Summer Adventure. Are you having the best summer? Prove it and share your tales with a Pecha Kucha style presentation on Aug. 21. Contact lgarrod@anchoragemuseum.org by Aug. 14 if you would like to be a presenter.
Book Signing with Historian Doug Capra, 1 to 3pm, July 16. Historian Doug Capra signs his book “The Spaces Between: Stories from the Kenai Mountains to the Kenai Fjords” at the Anchorage Museum Shop. “The Spaces Between” is a colorful collection of articles and stories about the people and pioneers that helped to settle the eastern Kenai Peninsula. Readers gain insight to the life and times of a unique period of Alaska’s history. Free. Books available for purchase.
Crosscurrents: Anchorage Remembers, 7 to 9pm, July 23. To commemorate the historic rise of Anchorage from the first sale of town lots in 1915 to Alaska’s largest city in 2015, 49 Writers published the memoir anthology “Anchorage Remembers.” The book chronicles the history of Anchorage in the words of those who have lived it. This book launch includes readings by anthology authors who reflect on what makes Anchorage such a special place. This program is presented by 49 Writers and is supported by a Centennial Community Grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Rasmuson Foundation, and the Anchorage Centennial Celebration. Free. Books available for purchase.
Teen Workshop: 'Zine 15, Noon to 4pm, July 18-19. Artist Jimmy Riordan guides teens in designing their own 'zines inspired by the Anchorage Centennial. Mixing text with historical and contemporary images, participants create their own publication, reflect on Anchorage's past and envision its future. In conjunction with the exhibition "City Limits" and the Anchorage Centennial, this workshop invites teens to work with a contemporary artist and consider place and history while helping to create the future of Anchorage. Ages 13-18. Reservations required; enroll online. $55
July 12-21, 8pm, Northern Renaissance Arts & Sciences Readings Schedule, in conjunction with the UAA MFA Summer Residency. Join Keynote Writer Ron Carlson, Distinguished Guest Poet Sean Hill, and a class of Alaska writers such as Nancy Lord, Sherry Simpson, and Eva Saulitis for a week of readings to celebrate local graduating MFA students. All of the detailed information can be viewed here.

2015 Sledgehammer 36-Hour Writing ContestJuly 25–26. The contest begins with an online scavenger hunt that participants can complete from anywhere. Along the way, they'll collect four writing prompts, all of which must be incorporated into their story, which is due by midnight on Sunday. Writers can compete individually or as teams, and the contest is open to all ages. Cash prizes will be awarded to the best short stories of the weekend in the following categories:·  Individual·  Team·  Readers' Choice·  Judge's Choice·  Youth (two prizes: elementary/middle school, high school)
Winners will also receive entry to writing-related events and the coveted golden sledgehammers.Registration is just $25 for adults and $10/$5 for youth. Visit www.sledgehammercontest.com to learn more and register.
Events at the UAA Bookstore
July 15, 4:30pm-6:00pm, author Robin McLean presents Reptile House with Frank Soos. Reptile House is winner of the BOA Editions Fiction Prize.  The story collection is inhabited by killers and thieves, astronauts and cave explorers, moose hunters and country club ladies, all seeking some exit toward better dreams. Robin McLean was a lawyer and then a potter for 15 years in the woods of Alaska before receiving her MFA at U Mass Amherst in Massachusetts. She currently teaches at Clark University. Joining Robin McLean is UAF professor emeritus and Alaska State Writer Laureate Frank Soos. He is author of Unified Field TheoryBamboo Fly Rod Suite: Reflections on Fishing and the Geography of Grace, and he is co-editor with Kesler Woodward of Under Northern Lights: Artists and Writers on the Alaskan Landscape.
July 20, 4:00pm-6:00pm, James P. Warren presents “Placing John Haines.” James P. Warren, Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, has received a grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum to research and write about the poetry and prose of John Haines.  He is the author of John Burroughs and the Place of Nature, The Culture of Eloquence, and Walt Whitman's Language Experiment.  At this event, he shares his research about John Haines and the importance of his work. 
July 21, 4:00pm-6:00pm, Katherine Ringsmuth presents One Alaska, Many Traditions: The Global History of Alaska. According to Katherine Ringsmuth, “With every job I take on, my objective is to inspire a commitment to a place, its history and respect for all people who share it.” At this event, Alaska history is viewed in a dynamic, global perspective. Katherine Ringsmuth teaches American and Alaskan History in the UAA History Dept. and serves on the Board of Directors for the Cook Inlet Historical Society. She has acted as Alaska Curator for the Anchorage Museum and has published numerous books as historian for the National Park Service.
July 27, 4:00pm-6:00pm, Bonnye Matthews presents Mixing DVD Media with Novels to Enhance Communication. Bonnye Matthews is the award winning writer of the Winds of Change Series.  At this event, Tuksook’s Story: 35,000 BC and its setting in Cook Inlet, accompanied by a  20 minute DVD, will be examined. "Cook Inlet -- The Setting for Tuksook's Story, 35,000 BC, DVD" tells the story of how that area of Alaska came to be.  It gives a sweeping time travel from Pangea to the present, describes the dinosaur age, explains what flora and fauna the People might have encountered, and how the land came and comes to be. Everyone is invited to explore Cook Inlet’s past with fascinating research, geologic time and storytelling.
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), and the Sports NW Lot. Note:  UAA Campus Bookstore podcasts are posted in iTunes or iTunes U--just search UAA or UAA Campus Bookstore.  Or see http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/bookstore/events/podcasts.cfm.

Local Library Events

Book Signings

EVENTS AROUND ALASKASOUTHCENTRAL, MAT-SU, KENAI PENINSULAFireside Books in Palmer will host a July 14 dinner with Sherri Simpson and Frank Soos, featuring music by Tom Begich. Robin McLean will be in July as well. The former Alaskan has been getting lots of critical acclaim for her collection of short stories, Reptile House.

SOUTHEAST

INTERIOR

OPPORTUNITIES FOR WRITERSCONFERENCES, RETREATS & RESIDENCIES
The Tutka Bay Writers Retreat: What better way to jumpstart your writing? Don't miss out on a fantastic retreat featuring two outstanding guest instructors, Ann Eriksson and Gary Geddes! September 11-13 at the fabulous Tutka Bay Lodge. Sign up today!
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

Alaska Women Speak is looking for a responsible maven fluent with InDesign (CS6) layout and website savvy to join the all-volunteer crew as Layout Editor. Here’s your chance to create for a 23rd year in the running, statewide, quarterly publication! This is not a site-specific volunteer opportunity, but sound Internet connection is required. Occasional Skype sessions apply. If interested, we'd love to hear from you. Please contact us at alaskawomenspeak@yahoo.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.

From July 1 to August 15 the Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency Program will be accepting applications from Alaska artists and writers interested in a fully-funded two-month residency in the Lower 48. The eligibility requirements have changed—Alaska-based artists who have not received a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award are now also eligible to apply. A free information session detailing the program, eligibility requirements, and application process will be held June 26, at 6 p.m. in the Anchorage Museum’s Reynolds Classroom. Potential applicants are invited to attend in-person or by teleconference. More information can be found at rasmuson.org. If you have questions about the program, contact Jayson Smart at jsmart@rasmuson.org or call 907-297-2882

GOOD NEWS!
The new issue of CIRQUE can be reviewed at www.cirquejournal.com. Print copies of our largest issue ever can be ordered there as well. A 40% discount will be offered for orders of five or more. Reply via email cirquejournal@gmail.com to ask about this.
Soon, we will all be able to hear the beautiful words in Lynne Curry's upcoming book, Beating the Workplace Bully. Brilliance Audio recently purchased the audio rights!


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

P&R Newsletter

Parks and Recreation Special Events - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 2:07pm
Take a minute to look over the latest Parks and Recreation Department news.
Categories: Arts & Culture, Outdoors

Andromeda: A Writer in the Waves--Lessons from Surfing

49 Writers - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 6:00am
Andromeda in San Juanico, Mexico
When I asked Manuel for a surfing lesson, he made this suggestion: Go today, take the boards, don’t try to stand up, just catch the waves on your belly, get a feel for the ocean, and then I’ll see you tomorrow.
I wasn’t a total beginner. I’d surfed three times in three different places. But I needed help. “Yo soy lo peor,” I beseeched him. I am the worst.
My surfing, if anything, had been going backwards from a strongish but reckless start in Bali, where I was thumped and tossed by big waves, cut by rocks and corals, and kept safe--just barely—by local guides who were more interested in flirting with young tourists and catching a few waves than giving clear instruction. They were fun-loving guys with great temperaments, and I enjoyed hearing them chat happily in their clicky and melodious local tongue, but they never bothered to learn my name and didn’t bother to diagnose my repeated mistakes. 
Thanks to those Balinese guides, I did avoid drowning and I managed to stand up briefly on my 43rdbirthday, accomplishing a dream, but only halfway so. Yes, I could claim I had surfed, but the process had been painful, confusing, and downright scary. I couldn’t even say for sure if I liked surfing. When a storm thrashed our hut the second night, promising wind and perhaps even bigger waves, I gladly used it as an excuse for skipping the 4 am wakeup call to go surfing again the next day.
My feelings about surfing were so mixed that a year later, when I was in Todos Santos, Mexico with my daughter and her friend, I waited until the last half-hour to borrow my daughter’s rented board. The waves were smaller here, the sun was out, and under the bubbling surf was soft sand. It was a more forgiving environment, and in thirty minutes of trying to catch any wave that came by I actually stood up again, however briefly. My favorite part was surfing in the shallows next to young local children. They didn’t mind falling and didn’t bother with the big waves. I learned something just from watching them and we shared a lot of giddy smiles.
For years, my sports metaphor for writing was the marathon: just put one foot in front of another, take breaks when you need to, and the finish line is within even a novice’s reach. But this year, I switched my metaphor. Writing, after the first many tries and even after some successes, can remain, like surfing, frustrating and elusive.
During that first Bali surfing trip I took big chances and without even understanding what I was doing, threw myself toward a goal and achieved it. Or sort of. With my first novel, I skipped the typical apprentice’s wind-up (no short stories, no simply-structured, autobiographical tales set in familiar locales) and wrote The Spanish Bow, a door-stop that took place over a century, in Europe. Part of what made it easy was that I didn’t know it should be hard. I went into the zone, became my main character, and told his life story, infused with my own passion for cello, the visual arts, and 20th century politics. It was published at home and abroad, got some good reviews, launched me on a career path, and earned me some money. All good.
But as with surfing, I had managed to do something without understanding fully the domain and the many available techniques. Follow-up novels using different POVs and narrative structures proved much more difficult. Like my brief second try surfing Todos Santos, I was able to pull off a follow-up, and had fun in the process, but after all was said and done, I still felt anxiety and frustration. If anything, my confidence was dropping. In the ten years following the writing of my first novel, I came to know more about literature and creative writing, and my journey as a writer began to exhibit Xeno’s paradox: with every step, you are only halfway closer to your destination. You will never arrive.
In San Juanico, three weeks ago, I tried surfing again, in a beautiful, soft-sand bay in a remote stretch of Baja. It was a long trip to make for a short weekend, and we were there to show the place to a visiting friend--a young, strong rock climber who would probably pick it up quickly. Why should I even rent a board? Mostly to determine, once and for all, if I was ready to put surfing behind me. But had I really tried? I’d stood up for three to five seconds, but had I really done it? What is surfing, anyway? What is writing? What is life?
That short attempt was hampered by light wind and lack of waves as well as our lack of know-how about where to position ourselves, given the imperfect conditions.
Which brings me to San Juanico trip #2, a few weeks later, and surfing attempt #4. By this point, I was unhappily obsessing. How much better it would be if I could just be sure I hated surfing and didn’t have to keep trying!
But I had Manuel, a local instructor who would promise to show up the next day. All I had to do was spend my own day getting comfortable with the ocean again, and then he would come with more specific tips the next morning. That’s exactly what he did, taking charge from the moment he pulled on his sleek wetsuit, telling me in greater detail than I’d ever heard before about how to enter the water with minimal bruising, how to understand the set patterns we were seeing, how to watch for the oncoming wave, how to dodge waves that were too big, when precisely to paddle with my arms, how to ride on my front as an incremental learning step, when to go for it and stand up. He was articulate and specific, but he knew just when to stop talking technique and simply emphasize repetition: “Don’t think so much, just do it.” His encouragement was sincere and emphatic: “This is your wave, Andromeda. Here it comes. Look at it, look at it. Start paddling. Faster. You’ve got it. Go!”
At one point mid-morning, I must have mentioned I would never be good at surfing. He said, “You don’t have to be good at it. You just have to enjoy it!”
That day, surfing alongside my husband, daughter, and her boyfriend, I truly enjoyed it—truly felt like I was doing it—for the first time. I loved feeling the ocean and watching the sparkling waves come in. I dunked and got thrashed many times, but I didn’t feel like I was drowning. I occasionally moved away from Manuel, toward deeper water, to try timing and catching my own waves. I moved back toward him when I was ready for more advice. I switched out my big foam board for a few tries on a sleeker fiberglass model. With every attempt, the environment itself was seeping into me, and even when I was doing nothing more than sitting on my board, eyeing the far horizon for a new set, I felt like I was experiencing something spectacular.
The tide rose and the waves gave out before I did. I felt lucky just to be out in this miraculous domain, and I will try to remember that feeling this fall as I embark on revising a particularly tricky novel: just enjoy being part of this. Our efforts are so small and our progress incremental and inevitably unfinished, but wow, what a thing to be trying, what an environment in which to be trying it. What a miracle, and what an honor.
The journey more than the destination; try and try again; get past the fear and self-judgment; immerse and enjoy; this is yourchance, go for it. I know these are obvious and trite life lessons. But I have to learn the basics again and again, in new contexts, and sometimes with the help of new teachers, in order to trick my stubborn brain into paying attention.

Thank you, Manuel. And to those of you who are spending the summer surfing or writing: hang loose.


Andromeda Romano-Lax is the author of The Spanish Bow, The Detour, Searching for Steinbeck's Sea of Cortez, and the forthcoming Behave (Feb 2016). She is a co-founder of 49 Writers, a book coach, and a member of the UAA MFA fiction faculty. Her website is www.aromanolax.com.

Categories: Arts & Culture

P&R Newsletter

Parks and Recreation Special Events - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 12:02pm
Take a minute to look over the latest Parks and Recreation Department news.
Categories: Arts & Culture, Outdoors

From the Archives: Deb Vanasse on So Many Books

49 Writers - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 5:00am
A man will turn over half a library to make one book.  ~Samuel Johnson
There are books about how to read as a writer, but I haven’t yet read one. It’s not interest I lack, but time. Like Joshua Bodwell, author of “You Are What You Read” (Poets & Writers, Jan/Feb 2012), I’ve experienced that sad and startling revelation that I’ll never read all the books I intend to. In fact, I’m pretty sure I own more books than I’ll ever read. If logic prevailed, I’d never add a new title to my library, which thanks to the e-reader is no longer limited by physical space. But book lust goes way beyond logic. 
“Reading is everything to me as a writer,” says Anthony Doerr, quoted in Bodwell’s article. “It’s where I go when I get discouraged, when I forget why it is I wanted to be a writer in the first place. And books are where I go when I want to be reminded of the mystery and magic of our shared language.” That’s all the encouragement I need to go browsing and come home with a bag full of books.
More justification: in “The Importance of Being Envious,” an essay in Naming the WorldTom Robbins contends that for the writer, reading evokes a productive sort of jealousy that he likens to literary Viagra. “It isn’t as if I want to elbow Norman Mailer out of line at the bank or steal Louise Erdrich’s ink,” Robbins explains. “What I desire is to feel for myself the rush Mailer or Erdrich must have felt when they pulled that particular rabbit out of a hat. What I covet is to have the kind of effect on language-conscious readers that Norman and Louise have just had on me.”
If envy seems too visceral a reason for reading, consider that we’re motivated to read by an equally fundamental need: security. Some of us were lucky enough to spend our childhoods cocooned in books, sheltered in the assurance we’d one day emerge beautiful. Others came to books through a compassionate teacher or librarian. Either way, the draw of a good book is as deeply satisfying as the silky edge of a favorite blanket. Even as we aim to hone our craft with a more distant and objective consideration of text, we can’t ignore this primal attraction, the comfort of story.
We all have a history with books. When I lived in a small Alaska village – a million years ago, as I tell students now, otherwise known as 1979 – I coveted a relationship with the Alaska State Library. The nice people in Juneau sent out a print catalog; you browsed, ordered, and eagerly awaited your shipment. Later I moved to a larger Bush community with its own little library, but as I juggled a household and a family and a fulltime job, I despaired of ever again reading a whole book for pleasure. 
Those pressures eased, and I did of course find time again for whole books.  Yet I still shortchange myself when it comes to reading. It feels too much like an indulgence, a reward squeezed in over lunch or at bedtime, unless it’s research for “real work.” This is wrong-headed thinking. I need to expand the book time in my day, to acknowledge that the guilty pleasure of working with words includes sustained and joyful periods of doing what I love. Besides, I do read also for craft, studying how this word works, how that sentence turns, how seamless parts create meaning even as I indulge a deep-rooted desire. Sometimes that means reading twice – once for joy, again to consider how the writer created the joy. Re-reading might seem a large indulgence when there are so many unopened books on the shelf, but new research affirms its benefits
Then there’s the matter of which titles writers should read. Classics? I taught them for years, and while I appreciate their place in our literary heritage, I’m not especially drawn to them for their own sake. Bestsellers? In the genre I’m writing? Outside the genres I’m writing, for fear of being influenced? 
“I never read anything I’m not inspired by,” says author Simon Van Booy. That works for me. Though I make lists, I’m a promiscuous reader, easily distracted from the titles I pledged to. Since I’ll never get to all those books anyhow, what matters most is the approach: purposeful, and also with pleasure.
Check This Out: I read Bookforum not so much to discover new titles but to learn more about authors I already love. From a great review of Marilynne Robinson’s latest book, for instance, I learned about Robinson’s perspective on the West along with her take on religion. Time to re-read Housekeeping.
Try This: Develop your own customized book report habit, mining whatever you read for treasures of craft. Either at the end of your daily reading sessions or when you finish a book (or a story or essay or poem), write about what you loved most. As when revising, consider both the larger structure elements and the nuanced details. Speculate on how the writer worked the manuscript; if possible, affirm your speculations through research.
Deb crossposts at www.selfmadewriter.blogspot.com.
Categories: Arts & Culture

5th Annual DAY AT THE POOL -- JULY 11

Parks and Recreation Special Events - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 5:04pm
Date of Event: Thursday, Jun 30 -
Categories: Arts & Culture, Outdoors

WEDNESDAY JULY 1: Lifeguard Training -- just in time for a cool summer job!

Parks and Recreation Special Events - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 4:58pm
Date of Event: Tuesday, Jun 30 - You asked for it - another round of Lifeguard training for the coolest of jobs this summer. Don't miss the pre-course this Wednesday July 1.
Categories: Arts & Culture, Outdoors

Alaska Shorts: "Ascent of Mont Ventoux" by Petrarch

49 Writers - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 5:00am


To-day I made the ascent of the highest mountain in this region, which is not improperly called Ventosum. My only motive was the wish to see what so great an elevation had to offer. I have had the expedition in mind for many years; for, as you know, I have lived in this region from infancy, having been cast here by that fate which determines the affairs of men. Consequently the mountain, which is visible from a great distance, was ever before my eyes, and I conceived the plan of some time doing what I have at last accomplished to-day. The idea took hold upon me with especial force when, in re-reading Livy's History of Rome, yesterday, I happened upon the place where Philip of Macedon, the same who waged war against the Romans, ascended Mount Haemus in Thessaly, from whose summit he was able, it is said, to see two seas, the Adriatic and the Euxine. Whether this be true or false I have not been able to determine, for the mountain is too far away, and writers disagree. Pomponius Mela, the cosmographer - not to mention others who have spoken of this occurrence - admits its truth without hesitation; Titus Livius, on the other hand, considers it false. I, assuredly, should not have left the question long in doubt, had that mountain been as easy to explore as this one. Let us leave this matter one side, however, and return to my mountain here, - it seems to me that a young man in private life may well be excused for attempting what an aged king could undertake without arousing criticism.


When I came to look about for a companion I found, strangely enough, that hardly one among my friends seemed suitable, so rarely do we meet with just the right combination of personal tastes and characteristics, even among those who are dearest to us. This one was too apathetic, that one over-anxious; this one too slow, that one too hasty; one was too sad, another over-cheerful; one more simple, another more sagacious, than I desired. I feared this one's taciturnity and that one's loquacity. The heavy deliberation of some repelled me as much as the lean incapacity of others. I rejected those who were likely to irritate me by a cold want of interest, as well as those who might weary me by their excessive enthusiasm. Such defects, however grave, could be borne with at home, for charity suffereth all things, and friendship accepts any burden; but it is quite otherwise on a journey, where every weakness becomes much more serious. So, as I was bent upon pleasure and anxious that my enjoyment should be unalloyed, I looked about me with unusual care, balanced against one another the various characteristics of my friends, and without committing any breach of friendship I silently condemned every trait which might prove disagreeable on the way. And - would you believe it? - I finally turned homeward for aid, and proposed the ascent to my only brother, who is younger than I, and with whom you are well acquainted. He was delighted and gratified beyond measure by the thought of holding the place of a friend as well as of a brother.
With hiking season in full swing, I can't help but be reminded of the reflective power a mountain trail, how a hike can inspire me to spend the next few days writing. In the spirit of such a sentiment, I thought I'd change things up a bit for this week's Alaska Shorts and share one of the first nature essays ever written.

The Italian poet Petrarch wrote about his ascent of Mont Ventoux (elevation 1912 meters) on 26 April 1336 in a well-known letter published as one of his Epistolae familiares (IV, 1). In this letter, written around 1350, Petrarch claimed to be the first person since antiquity to have climbed a mountain for the view. The essay illustrates the mirroring effect of nature—that it reveals an equally vast inner world. This is evident when, near the end of the essay, Petrarch writes, “How earnestly should we strive, not to stand on mountain-tops, but to trample beneath us those appetites which spring from earthly impulses.” Read the full essay here.

Would you like to see your work featured here? Check out our Alaska Shorts guidelines and submit today.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Empty but filling

What Turtle Blood Tastes Like - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 2:41pm

Empty but filling.
This old house,
me and my old dog,
done in by a good long walk
in the cold.

Stove emptied
of last night’s ash
and filled carefully
with kindling.

Cold empty house
filling
with old-world-warmth.
Dog in his chair,
me in mine,

but what of this guilt
filling me, this house,
edging into this poem?

Just a few hours alone,
beside warming wood-stove
reading and writing poems.

Empty, or maybe not.
Filling, or perhaps
already quite full

of joy
ferocious memory
tea and meaning.

Meaning and
unmeaning
making worry
and worlds
to fill this
cold but warming
space

where I place
myself amidst
belonging and
warm mugs
and winter morning.

Growing
a fire
beside me
inside me
spreading
heat, hindsight
and light.


Filed under: Hermit Poets
Categories: Arts & Culture

From the Archives: Deb Vanasse: Je Ne Sais Quoi

49 Writers - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 8:00am
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.  ~William Wordsworth

Ethereal, bewitching, seductive - thus have reviewers praised Alaska author Eowyn Ivey’s best-selling debut novel The Snow Child
If that sounds like love, so too does the way Ivey’s book was conceived. In her day job at Fireside Books in Palmer, she came upon a children's book retelling of the Russian folktale The Snow Child. “I got this funny feeling right then,” Ivey said in a recent Anchorage Daily News interview. She ditched the novel she’d been working on for two years and started in on an adult version of the tale.
That “funny feeling” sounds a lot like the “intangible something” Rebecca Sherman of Writers House brought up in a recent discussion among agents hosted by Publishers Weekly, referring to the je ne sais quoi that draws her – and readers – to certain books. I am, by the way, a sucker for French - my minor in college. The loose English translation "an indescribable something" is a poor substitute for "I know not what," which hits the mark precisely, whether you mean writing or romance.
Can you fall in love with your writing project? Should you? 
Idaho farmer James Castle used ink mixed from spit and soot to make art. Though illiterate, deaf, and untrained, he kept at it for decades, his art driven by passion and empathy, the pursuit of the tangible by way of the intangible. He didn’t discern. He didn't weigh the market. He didn’t try to get noticed. Yet his creative work eventually found its audience. “As it happens, his art – produced over more than six decades – communes with many of the twentieth century’s most salient aesthetic trends, even as it seems to have been very much a private means of understand his home and family,” says Bookforum reviewer Albert Mobilio. Castle's labor of love struck a chord.
Projects with real staying power feel different in the same way that deep love feels different from a crush. That “funny feeling” has to carry us through the long process of perfecting the work.
In solidarity with the students I taught in various classrooms during a recent writer’s residency, I wrote fifteen times from the same prompt, in ten-minute spurts. It was a lot like speed-dating. Though the prompt quickly became redundant, significant flashes emerged here and there – images, slices of character, snippets of scene. Some may find their way into a project that's emerging out of one of those funny feelings that disarmed me, out of the blue. You never know where you’ll find love, or a taste of it.
How can we know for sure that a project is not just viable but the one? In the initial rush of inspiration, our brains spin wildly, as they do when we’re in love – a dopamine high, fueled by norepinephrine that keeps us up nights spinning characters and plotting twists and chasing research. It’s only when we settle into a relationship with a project that we’re able to judge the depth of that first woo-woo feeling, to tell whether it has the staying power to carry us over the long haul, to determine whether our inspiration is not just attractive but unshakable.
Of all the emotional clichés, tough love is most apropos to the work of the writer. In revision, we must be brutal, objective, and tough - none of that warm fuzzy stuff. Yet it’s that funny feeling, the intuition, the passion, the je ne sais quoi that carries us through, that makes up for the trials and the pain and the risk. 
Faithful and loyal, we can spend years with a project born out of feeling. But if we find ourselves married to it, we risk all. Not that we can’t commit wholly and completely, but if and when things get stale, when the writer’s no longer growing or discovering or excited, when the feeling is gone, gone, gone, then it could be time to break things off, to shove the manuscript under a bed as Ivey did with her first novel. In doing so we must believe fully and resolutely that nothing is wasted. The years spent with a draft that we ultimately ditch teach us about writing in the same way that failed relationships teach us about love.
We do fall in love, and we must.
Try this: Carry a notepad, either old-fashioned or electronic. Note random thoughts, flashes of inspiration, without concern for whether anything will come from them. You may jot down hundreds of images, snatches of conversation, and ideas before one begins to haunt you, coming to you as you fall asleep and again in the mornings when you wake. That’s your essay, your story, your book.
Check this out: As with love, when it comes to writing, most of us would prefer to just let it happen. But when we need a push, Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write is at the ready. “Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding,” Cameron says. “We should write because writing is good for the soul.” 
Deb cross-posts at www.selfmadewriter.blogspot.com.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Klarissa’s Kool Klean Kanteen Kontainer

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 4:12am

Necessary Kold or hot drinks Kontained in Klarissa’s Kool Klean Kanteen

When my friend Margie gifted me this thermos last Fall 2014, I thought it was sweet, nifty and thoughtful of her.  Little had I known I would use this precious gem at least once a day every day since!  It’s the perfect size, not too big, not too small.  I’ve traveled the ferry south from Juneau to Bellingham with it in my stateroom, traveled in my Chilkat Mobile along the West Coast down to Los Angelos over the Phoenix, up to Santa Fe and then Colorado.

This thermos keeps your hot drink hot for about 5 or 6 hours; keeps your cold drinks cold for about the same time.

I keep it handy at my side while I am at my desk, my drawing table, my sewing table, coffee table during music and of course my weaving loom.  It’s been my pal, my confidant (yes, sometimes I actually talk to it), and obviously my traveling buddy!  Yep, hot or kold drinks keep me hydrated serving me well…THE Klarissa’s Kool Klean Kanteen…!  Go out and get one for yourself!  Or better yet, maybe somebody will gift one to you…!

Thank you dear Margaret!

Categories: Arts & Culture

Weekly Round Up of Alaska Writing News and Events

49 Writers - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 7:00am
The heat has finally settled. It is safe to come out of your homes, Alaskans. I, for one, was hiding in a room with all shades drawn, a box fan blowing faster than the propellers on a bush plane, and my feet in a mini fridge. With the cooler temperatures, let's explore this week's events.

On July 23 at 7 pm, we'll be hosting a special Crosscurrents event at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson to celebrate the launch of the Anchorage Remembers anthology, featuring forty authors. This project was made possible by a Community Centennial Grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum, Rasmuson Foundation, and Anchorage Centennial Celebration.

If you’re a 49 Writers member, watch for an e-vite to a special members-only event on July 14 with literary agent Jeff Kleinman.  In Juneau, our next member event is on August 6 from 7-9 pm; again, members should watch for details via email. (Not a member? Head over to our website to join.)
We have only a few spots left at our popular Tutka Bay Writers Retreat. Registration closes July 1. We'd love to have you join us for a special weekend of inspiration and instruction at one of the world's top-rated wilderness lodges.

Last but not least, we're looking for authors to get involved with Alaska Book Week Oct. 3 -11. Visit www.alaskabookweek.com and click the 2015 logo to participate. This year, you can also get involved with a video interview.
49 Writers Volunteer J.T. Torres

EVENTS IN ANCHORAGEEvents at the UAA Bookstore
On July 23 at 7 pm, 49 Writers hosts a special Crosscurrents event at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson to celebrate the launch of the Anchorage Remembers anthology, featuring by forty authors. This project was made possible by a Community Centennial Grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum, Rasmuson Foundation, and Anchorage Centennial Celebration.
2015 Sledgehammer 36-Hour Writing ContestJuly 25–26. The contest begins with an online scavenger hunt that participants can complete from anywhere. Along the way, they'll collect four writing prompts, all of which must be incorporated into their story, which is due by midnight on Sunday. Writers can compete individually or as teams, and the contest is open to all ages. Cash prizes will be awarded to the best short stories of the weekend in the following categories:·  Individual·  Team·  Readers' Choice·  Judge's Choice·  Youth (two prizes: elementary/middle school, high school)
Winners will also receive entry to writing-related events and the coveted golden sledgehammers.Registration is just $25 for adults and $10/$5 for youth. Visit www.sledgehammercontest.com to learn more and register.
Local Library Events

Book Signings

EVENTS AROUND ALASKASOUTHCENTRAL, MAT-SU, KENAI PENINSULAFireside Books in Palmer will host several authors this weekend. Bill Richardson will be here June 26 at 1:00 PM, with his Corky series. And keep your eyes and ears open for our July events, such as the July 14 dinner with Sherri Simpson and Frank Soos, featuring music by Tom Begich. Robin McLean will be in July as well. The former Alaskan has been getting lots of critical acclaim for her collection of short stories, Reptile House.

SOUTHEAST

INTERIORThe Art of the Essay, June 26-28, with Frank Soos, is a three-day intense class in reading and writing personal essays. The essay as practiced from the beginning of the form up to the present day is the most open to experimentation and innovation of all the commonly practiced forms. They will explore that range by discussing a variety of essay forms to consider how an essay can be made. Details and registration info at Northern Susitna Institute, Talkeetna AK.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR WRITERSCONFERENCES, RETREATS & RESIDENCIES
The Tutka Bay Writers Retreat: What better way to jumpstart your writing? Don't miss out on a fantastic retreat featuring two outstanding guest instructors, Ann Eriksson and Gary Geddes! September 11-13 at the fabulous Tutka Bay Lodge. Sign up today!
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

Alaska Women Speak is looking for a responsible maven fluent with InDesign (CS6) layout and website savvy to join the all-volunteer crew as Layout Editor. Here’s your chance to create for a 23rd year in the running, statewide, quarterly publication! This is not a site-specific volunteer opportunity, but sound Internet connection is required. Occasional Skype sessions apply. If interested, we'd love to hear from you. Please contact us at alaskawomenspeak@yahoo.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


From July 1 to August 15 the Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency Program will be accepting applications from Alaska artists and writers interested in a fully-funded two-month residency in the Lower 48. The eligibility requirements have changed—Alaska-based artists who have not received a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award are now also eligible to apply. A free information session detailing the program, eligibility requirements, and application process will be held June 26, at 6 p.m. in the Anchorage Museum’s Reynolds Classroom. Potential applicants are invited to attend in-person or by teleconference. More information can be found at rasmuson.org. If you have questions about the program, contact Jayson Smart at jsmart@rasmuson.org or call 907-297-2882
GOOD NEWS!
Soon, we will all be able to hear the beautiful words in Lynne Curry's upcoming book, Beating the Workplace Bully. Brilliance Audio recently purchased the audio rights!

The Poems in Place steering committee recently selected four winning entries from poems written by Alaskans. Come September, Alaska will have a poem or two in each of the state park’s seven regions.

Leslie Leyland Field’s poem, “Tideline” and Fred Stager’s poem, “The Compass Rose," will be placed in Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park in Kodiak.  Aleria Jensen’s poem, “A Soldier’s Station," and Justine Pechuzal’s poem, “Pilgrims," will be installed at Caines Head State Recreational Area, Seward. Local creative writing workshops will accompany sign dedications to be held in Kodiak and Seward this fall. For dates and details please stay tuned: http://www.alaskacenterforthebook.org/  
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

From the Archives: Andromeda on Keeping (brief!) notes

49 Writers - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 6:00am
What an amazing time I had at the writers' conference in Aspen, Colorado in 2002, studying with Ted Conover, a writer I'd admired for years,, who had so much to teach us. About that time, I remember...very little.

And how exciting to have attended the Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference, two times-- or was it three? I know I attended many great lectures and seminars and talks (that fabulous lecture by Eugenides!), about which I remember...very little.

The problem is not that I failed to take notes on these and other literary occasions. In fact, I filled entire notebooks. I wrote so much, in such a hurried and inspired scrawl, that I dare not wade into those messy pages now.

At my MFA program I also fill a notebook each residency. But thanks to the paperwork requirements the MFA enforces--part of each day is spent filling and submitting paperwork, which can seem, on the surface, quite onerous-- I have both less and more than those notebooks. In addition to various other logs and evaluations and contracts, Antioch requires students to submit, a few weeks after each residency, a summary of every residency "learning experience," including seminars, readings, orientations, and the rest. The total summary document can be no more than five pages, which translates into no more than one good paragraph for every class or reading attended. I may take multiple pages of notes per class, but then I have to distill, and that neat, typed, carefully formatted distillation-- and the reconsolidation of memory it allows-- has convinced me that I should have started this habit many, many years ago.

These are the kinds of clean, spare records I have for no other writing conference or literary experience, and not even from my own previous graduate and undergraduate school days. I may have boxes of old folders and files, but no desire whatsoever to go through them. If I had instead, from my past degrees, a handful of pages per semester, maybe 40 or 60 in all, what a gift that would be!

Come to think of it, this very brief summary document could be used even outside formal academic settings. I think of the years I've spent in a writers' group -- nearly two decades now. If I had made myself type up a single summary paragraph per meeting, summarizing what I learned or questioned or thought about or vociferously debated, I might have gained so much more. Ditto for reading groups. How I would love to remember now the gist of those monthly discussions--but only the gist!

As we've said often on this blog, it takes a long time to become a proficient writer, which is why the shortcuts matter.

Will I be disciplined enough to create summary learning documents without an external deadline imposed? Only time will tell. But it's a good idea I wanted to share. With some great writing center classes and talks starting in February, and the writing conference season starting a few months later, this would be a great time for commiting to a new habit. Just remember (I tell myself and anyone inclined to join me): one distilled paragraph only per talk or class....
Categories: Arts & Culture

Lifelong Sewing Basket

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 4:00am

My 50-year-old antique sewing basket was given to me for my 9th birthday from my Mother, Irene Lampe

This little sewing basket has sentimental value to my life as a designer and maker of button robes, a costume designer for theatre and a seamstress who sewed all my own clothing for myself, family and friends for many years,… and now my grandchildren.

Today is our mother’s birthday.  She would have been 90 years old.  I don’t know if she remembers giving me this gift for my 9th birthday and I have used this little treasure box for 50 years and will most likely continue to do so until my own passing.  I don’t know if she ever saw this basket at my sewing table; though, for some reason it would be nice for her to know that I have used this little treasure box and have never replaced it with anything else.

Back in March I was online searching for small sewing baskets for each of my oldest grand-daughters and to my delight, I came across some of these baskets for sale — though none of them had the plastic tray!  If any of my readers happen to come across these baskets (that include the plastic tray), I would appreciate it if you would please contact me!

Thank you Mom, for your thoughtfulness.  I have always appreciated your support.

Categories: Arts & Culture

Linda Martin: Finding the Geography of Our Work: Post-conference workshop at Tutka Bay

49 Writers - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 5:00am
Afaa WeaverSincerity, then craft. Afaa Michael Weaver, a black man from Baltimore, comes at poetry that way. He’s a quiet teacher, given to listening. He speaks Chinese, practices Tai Chi and other martial arts, gives his students room to ponder what he calls an artist’s “geography.”

He has published fourteen books of poetry. In 2014 he won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award—given to a mid-career poet, along with a $100,000 prize. He carries his brilliance quietly, lets his students talk their way into what he calls an “associative field.”

Ten participants attended a workshop with Afaa Weaver, following the Kachemak Bay Writers Conference, June 14 and 15. Called a post-conference workshop, the two-night stay at Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge combined stunning scenery, world-class cuisine and a deeply thoughtful look at one man’s creative process. But first, we seemed to be spinning our wheels, revved up as we all were from an exciting conference in Homer.
“When will he tell us what to do?” we asked one another. Our first session, held in a renovated boat near the lodge, was a series of conversations between Afaa and each writer, with the rest of us occasionally chiming in. Afaa talked in general terms about finding a map, coming up with a plan and a process. He created a schedule of individual meetings with each participant. Then this assignment: A thought exercise, Afaa called it. “Look out an imaginary window. You see someone beckoning to you. Climb out the window and follow that person. Describe where you go, how you feel. Record it. Repeat the route.”

We slept. I heard thunder in the night. It sounded like mountains collapsing into the bay, but the next morning all was peaceful. There was yoga on the deck and Afaa Weaver moving in a walking Tai Chi meditation beneath the sunlit mountains. Newly fledged varied thrush hopped ahead of me on my way to the lodge for breakfast. We were curious about others’ responses to the exercise, eager to meet and listen. Not everyone read before there was a break. Lunch was fisherman’s stew, with saffron broth and fresh mussels. Then we’re out in the warm sunshine, the agreeable Afaa letting other people work out the table and chair arrangement. I have drawn an actual map of my project. I haven’t understood yet.

Afaa missed a close connection in Chicago and did without his luggage for the entire conference—same blue shirt and jeans Friday to Wednesday when his bag arrived at Tutka Bay by water taxi, thanks to the efforts of conference director Carol Swartz. He unpacked a lesson plan and some clean clothes. He promised to describe his process for organizing a manuscript in the next session. Then he handed out assignments, a different one for each participant, designed to bend and free our minds. Some of us felt resistance. I took a nap. 

The manuscript ordering session was worth waking up for. Afaa spread out his most recent books on the picnic table and talked about map as a table of contents, map as a bagua diagram, geography as something internal. Want a little writing assignment? Here’s the one Afaa gave us: You walk into a restaurant. The waiter asks for your order. This is a strange restaurant. Order whatever you need to be genuine. To be sincere.

What revelations came from that assignment! We took walks on the beach and into the woods. We stared at the water and the mountains. Afaa talked with us, one at a time, calling each of us deeper into our own stories, even as we woke to the beauty of one another’s stories. 

The individual assignments, what Afaa called “home work,” produced startlingly good writing, solid beginnings for everyone.

On our last day together, Afaa revealed “Four Aspects and a Mode,” his intuitive method of teaching us to find the geography of our work. Here they are: 
  1. The associative field created by “fielding” our initial conversations and establishing a communal dialogue.
  2. The thought exercise described above.
  3. Writing creatively about the place you went in the thought exercise in order to extend the imagination.
  4. The “home work”—getting to where we have to go by writing directly to it or in opposition to it.
  5. The Mode—In all of it, looking to locate the balance in craft and sincerity.


I wish you all could have been there! 

Categories: Arts & Culture

Alaska Shorts: "Special," by Richard Chiappone

49 Writers - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 5:00am

CHAZ PULLED HIS mother’s Outback into the snowed-over parking lot and parked it under the Alaska Recreational Area sign, gaping through the windshield at the three bodies clad in snowmobile suits lying face down on the still-frozen surface of the lake. Another meth deal gone sideways? Maybe. The locals in the jacked-up school buses and Tyvek-mummied shacks in the hills above town were as rough as the muffler-bashing roads they lived on. That was true. But, still, in the middle of a lake, in the middle of the day? The only other vehicle in the snowy lot was a rusted Toyota stake-bed that looked old enough to have come across from Asia on the land bridge.
He reached for his phone just as one of the dead men raised an arm off the ice and then lowered it again as though waving. Chaz stopped. One of the other bodies did the same thing, a dead arm coming up off the ice and going back down again. And then the third man did it, too, and Chaz understood they were ice fishermen, lying on their bellies, looking into the holes they’d augered there, jigging. He put the phone down.
Jesus. Ice fishing. And he thought he was bored.
It was the third week of May and sunny, actual springtime at sea level in the little town on the bay, daffodils thick along the south wall of the Save U More, newborn moose calves tottering through intersections on knobby stilts, piles of dog shit rising like the dead on every thawing lawn. But here, a thousand feet up, aging snow still blanketed the ground, and the naked shore alders shuddered miserably in the wind off the frozen lake.
He slumped back in his seat, squinting past the prostrate fishermen. Beyond them the dense spruce forests stretched endlessly. God’s worst idea ever: wilderness.
It was Sunday, almost noon, and this was exactly everything he had to do, all day.
It didn’t help that Nettle had brought some hipster dickhead home from Humboldt to share her room in her folks’ house and work on the family halibut boat for the summer. Chaz should’ve seen that coming. At Thanksgiving, she’d told him that it was “important to experience all kinds of experiences.” In January she’d gone back to California a week before classes re-started. She hadn’t come home for spring break at all.
Chaz’s best friend, Evan, had said, “Chaz, you fag, remember that SAT question: How soon will a girl in college dump her dumbass boyfriend who’s still back home in high school, in Fartfuck Alaska? Surely you picked A.) The minute she runs into an Eddie Vedder wannabe with a bag of weed in one hand and his dick in the other. Surely, dude.”
This was exactlywhy Chaz was sitting in his mother’s car watching guys lolling around on ice like pinnipeds, instead of spending the afternoon at Evan’s getting high and playing Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. Exactly.
Ice fishing. Jesus.


Richard Chiappone is the author of Opening Days, a collection of essays, stories and poems, and the short story collection Water of an UndeterminedDepth. His work has appeared in national magazines, including Alaska Magazine, Playboy, Gray's Sporting Journal, and The Sun; and in literary journals including Crescent Review, Missouri Review, and ZYZZYVA, and has been featured on the BBC radio. He has served as an associate editor at Alaska Quarterly Review, and now teaches at the Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College and in the low-residency MFA program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He recently moved from rural Anchor Point to the big city madness of downtown, metropolitan Homer.
Chiappone says the following story began with a boy ice fishing in upstate New York. A boy something like him, perhaps, growing up in a factory town, going off by himself in the woods and out onto the ice to get away from his dull, working-class home life and his six younger brothers and sisters. Somehow, the boy morphed into a teenager in a small town in Alaska. Somehow, he now had ultra liberal, ultra permissive parents, old hippies. Somehow he now had a radical, hipster older sister. For some reason, she was bald. Finally, the only thing remaining from the original was the intense confusion of being a teenager, trying to become oneself. Such is the power and mystery of revision. To read more of the excerpt, download a free copy of the Alaska Sampler 2015.
Would you like to see your work featured here? Check out our Alaska Shorts guidelines and submit today.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Alaskan Salmon Berry Pie

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 11:36am

Fresh-picked salmon berries – Auke Bay, Alaska

A few Juneau Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers gather together for a meal hosted by one of the weavers at their home; then we weave afterwards.  The “Wednesdaynite Weavers” we could call ourselves.  A couple of Wednesdays ago, Nila and Laine Rinehart brought fresh Salmonberry pies for dessert – none of us had had this taste before; not like this!!!

Recipe for fresh salmonberry pie!

A couple of days ago, my friend Lis and I went out to her secret berry patch in Auke Bay – we picked all we could BUT we had to leave some berries behind because we didn’t have enough time nor any other containers!!!  We picked enough to make about three standard size pies, or as the photo below suggests:  2 large and 3 small pies!  Just in time for Father’s Day!

Instructions for making salmonberry pie!

NOTE:  I suggest you cut the cardamom in half….use only 1 tsp instead of 2 tsp!  In our opinion, 1 tsp of cardamom in the mixture is sufficient!

Additional notes…

Some folks may not like the unique flavor of cardamom which if I am not mistaken is a key ingredient in Chi Tea.  If you are a creative baker, you may experiment with other flavors to enhance the quality of this wonderful-tasting berry pie…!  Salmon berries are unlike any other berry — they are the first of our berry season in Southeast Alaska!

2 large and 3 small Salmon Berry Pies celebrating Father’s Day 2015!

 

Categories: Arts & Culture

Clarissa’s Studio Part 5: “The Office”

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Sun, 06/21/2015 - 4:00am

Clarissa’s desk sports a 6-year-old Samsung “SyncMaster XL2370″ monitor linked to her 6-year-old MacBook

10 years ago, I didn’t even know how to turn on a computer.  I refused to spend any time in the world of technology; like why would I need it, right?  There’s only so much time in the day and I’d rather create than look at a computer screen for hours.  Even though I had an official website since 1998 when most artists did not (only because my friend Cecil insisted I had a website so he created it), for the first nearly 8 years whenever I received an email from someone commenting on my work on my website, I always had to ask my kids to pull up my website to see what the inquirer was talking about and at that time it was a chore to do so!  Since then, my attitude has changed.  I had to surrender to the fact that every business interaction was all on line; there was no need for a hard copy of anything.  Not even what’s inside my wallet.

Clarissa’s office in relationship to her living room

My attitude changed too when I began taking control of how my website required many choices: the lay out, the choice of colors, the photographs, the text, etc.  I began to see the artistry of a website design.  I truly appreciate having a daughter in the family who enjoys creating websites.  She also encouraged me to blog nearly 5 years ago even though I initially resisted.

Clarissa’s office in relationship to her sewing space

In reality, I spend 1/3 of my year creating actual product, 1/3 doing administrative work, and 1/3 doing marketing.  Creating actual artwork is the best part; maintaining the business end of keeping one’s self from being a starving artist is 2/3 the work which includes: drafting up proposals, applying for grants, responding to emails, attending to bookkeeping, keeping track of receipts, applying to do art markets or artist residencies, doing the taxes, packaging and shipping artwork, preparing for, traveling to, attending and setting up/taking down an art market, researching and ordering supplies, updating the website, photographing the art, comparing insurance, posting blog entries, maintaining the vehicle, cleaning and maintaining the work space, and filing papers, etc.

Clarissa’s office from the perspective of the kitchenette

I spend at least half of my time as an artist in business on the computer.  I spend at least half my time sitting in this office.  Some artists have enough income to pay someone else to do the administrative/marketing aspect.  I have yet to make that kind of income to afford even a rental with running water and sewer,  let alone an administrative assistant.  Though some day you will know when I have an administrative assistant.  She will be the one who answers the call from you!

Clarissa’s weaving area from the perspective of her office

People wonder if I even have a home.  Folks want to know where I live and work because it seems I travel a lot (though I have yet to afford a vacation.).  “Clarissa’s Studio” is a 9-part series showing the 9 areas of Clarissa’s studio where I work full-time and live part of the year in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  As you know by now, I remodeled a 2-car garage about 10 years ago as a studio without running water or sewer system because I had no plans of using this space as a place of residence.  I had no idea that years later, because of big changes in my personal life, I would not be able to afford paying rent anywhere else. so for nearly 4 years I have weathered insufficient heat during the winter and the inconveniences of not having a real kitchen and a bathroom, until someday I can afford a real home.

Over the next three months (starting this past May),  I will introduce you to various parts of my humble 700 sq.ft. sanctuary divided into sections.  Here are the parts of “Clarissa’s Studio Series”:

  • “The Living Room” where I play music, read, crochet, knit and clear out the coffee table to do Tai Chi;
  • “The Office” where I draft proposals, emails, FB,  grants, letters, update my website and post blog entries;
  • “The Sewing Space” where I sew button robes and clothing for the grandkids;
  • “The Weaving Space” for all my Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving projects on various size looms;
  • “The Grand Table Space” where I do large layouts of robe pattern designs and cut the applique for button robes;
  • “The Drawing Room” where I sketch and finalize drawings for robes, paintings, collages and book illustrations;
  • “The Painting/Collage-making” where I create just that, along with printing limited edition Giclee’ prints and shrinkwrapping them;
  • “Clarissa’s Kitchenette” where I zap an occasional Amy’s TV dinner for lunch and I keep a modest supply of drinking water;
  • “Clarissa’s Storage Units” for beautiful and practical storage of all weaving, spinning, sewing, dyeing, beadworking supplies and recent collection of books

The first three  blog entries on “Clarissa’s Studio” series include:

Part 1:  “The Livingroom” at:  http://clarissarizal.com/blog/clarissas-studio-part-1-the-living-room/

Part 2:  “The Kitchenette” at:  http://clarissarizal.com/blog/studio-part-2-clarissas-kitchenette/

Part 3:  “The Drawing Room” at:  http://clarissarizal.com/blog/clarissas-studio-part-3-the-drawing-area/

Part 4 — “The Beautiful, Practical Storage Unit” at:  http://clarissarizal.com/blog/clarissas-studio-part-4-beautiful-practical-storage-unit/

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