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P&R Newsletter

Parks and Recreation Special Events - Thu, 09/03/2015 - 10:19am
Take a minute to look over the latest Parks and Recreation Department news.
Categories: Arts & Culture, Outdoors

Andromeda/Alaska Writer Abroad: About the ants, and not really about the ants...

49 Writers - Thu, 09/03/2015 - 8:00am
A person very close to me is dying, suddenly and horribly. (We are all dying, of course, which I remind myself nearly every day, but strange creatures that we humans are, we react mostly to the suddenness  and horribleness of things, and are peculiarly offended when mortality strikes close to home, even while knowing that in the world at large, mortality is striking literally every second, somewhere.)
But that is personal, and hard to discuss, even parenthetically.
So I begin – I must begin – with ants.
Not one but three different species are running wild in our new apartment. Of course, we did decide to move to the tropics (Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico). I was always aware, as an Alaskan, that one benefit of our colder climes is how few bugs we deal with on a daily basis, further noth.
It could be worse. In rural Taiwan we had an even bigger problem: an entire nest of ants that had taken over some drawers inside our bed. Individual biting ants ran over my body, night after night, before we discovered the nest. When we did discover the nest, after many sleepless nights, and dragged the drawers outside (but not quite far enough), thousands spilled out and swarmed us, and the outer walls of our home, trying to run back inside. For a few brief but horrifying, slow-motion moments, ants which had crawled onto a porch overhang were raining down on us, as we stomped and screamed and brushed away the biting bodies.
Can an attack by ants cause shock? I now believe so. When we’d cleaned up the last of the ant invasion, I was shaking and suddenly, strangely tired. Though it was only two in the afternoon, I poured myself a gin and tonic with shaking hands and then fell promptly asleep in the relatively bug-free living room.
But I digress.
These Mexican ants – especially the two smaller species that are in love with our kitchen counters – don’t bite. They just crawl and search and gather in the presence of the tiniest crumb or the faintest trace of any food residue.
I have spent several days now, wiping down counters and re-spraying with vinegar (to neutralize the ant trails) and re-layering the window sill with fresh cinnamon (which evidently, ants hate) on an hourly basis. Yes, an hourly basis.
Every time I poke my head back into the kitchen, or go to refill my coffee or get a snack (I snack a lot on writing days), there they are: rallying the troops. And at dinner time, one can barely cut vegetables or bread on a cutting board before there are tiny ants rushing in to join the action. So, you have to fight back. Or at least try to keep the kitchen really, really clean.
That is one upside, I have decided – while looking desperately for upsides.
We used to leave a big pile of dishes in the sink. Tackling them would become a long morning job for my husband, or a mid-afternoon job for me.  Now, we all clean as we go. If I use a spoon, even just to stir the coffee in my cup, I have to immediately wash.
Just as I am waging an hourly battle with ants, I am coping with a more serious distraction. It feels exhibitionist to share these details here, at a blog, or on Facebook (I have so far resisted, questioning my own need for public disclosure, my own cravings for sympathy), but the facts remain: a family member, who has already battled breast cancer, has now been struck with brain cancer. It’s still fresh news. We are thousands of miles apart. I will be visiting to assist with 24-hour  home care soon. But the facts – and the distractions – remain. Every day, there are emails, text messages, and some phone calls. Updates. Increasingly dire reports. Attempts to reach out. Attempts to hold it all in.I want to do what I did after the Taiwan ant attack. I want to pour a gin and tonic, and fall asleep. I’ve been running a lot instead. Running, plus gin. A compromise, at least.
I am physically well, and I can’t claim that my own suffering in this approaches anywhere near the farthest-outside limits of the suffering of the person who is dying, but here at this blog, we are all writers. We don’t judge each other, I hope, for bringing it back to the writing. We talk about these things: about how hard it is to do the work, and especially to stay focused. I will be honest. Focusing has been a major problem. A family phone call may take 30 minutes, but I have found, pretty much like clockwork, that I’m no good for two to three hours after the phone call. An email shouldn’t take long, but I start writing back an email, to one of my sisters, say, and it turns into a long tome. Because we are all struggling to accept this news. To make decisions. To deal with our own feelings and the complicated nexus of relationships that surrounds this terrible diagnosis.
I am a metaphor maker. We all are. So each day, inbetween the dire emails and worrisome phone calls, and inbetween the hourly vinegar-wipe downs and ant battles, I ask myself: what am I learning here? What are the ants—and this other stupid, horrible, inescapable thing— teaching me?
Clean up. Stay on top of things. Be healthy; go for a run. Share the latest bad email news with family. Accept the terrible feelings.
Then try again. Go back to that essay one more time. Go back to that screenplay which is only 10 or 15 pages from the end. Try to work one hour. Try to work twenty minutes. Catch up on emails, and not just the family ones. Forgive oneself for not writing, or not writing well.
Resist the feelings of futility. Of course, those ten ants I just removed from the counter are a small  loss to the enormous colony that must be living outside my kitchen window. (Shudder.) But I just have to work with the surfaces I can see.
Resist the feelings of futility. Who cares about my silly essay, about my experiences living abroad and learning a foreign language? Who cares about my crappy screenplay, about Mexican drug traffickers and Ultra-orthodox wheat farmers? (Yes. Seriously.) Who cares?
I can’t answer that today. I will hold off answering.
I will go back and wash my lunch plate and make sure the watermelon rinds are out of ant territory. I will go back and open that essay file again. I will submit this blogpost because it’s what I do the first Thursday of every month. I will notice the wordcount – look at that, almost 1000 words– why can’t I do that so quickly, with such ease, in my essay or screenplay? Maybe because I was writing about the real distraction(s), and not hiding from them. But I do have to hide from them, or nothing else will get written.
I will try again, as soon I end this blogpost.

Andromeda Romano-Lax is the author of Behave, a novel about science, motherhood and the 1920s (Feb 2016), as well as The Spanish Bow, The Detour, and Searching for Steinbeck’s Sea of Cortez. She is a co-founder of 49 Writers, teaches in the UAA MFA program, and is a private book coach.

Categories: Arts & Culture

“Haa Shagoon” Filmed in Haines, Alaska

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 9:04pm

“Haa Shagoon” film written, directed and produced by Joseph Kawaky – 1981

I was not even 25 years old when this film was shot.  In the Summer of 1980, because of sudden news of a death of a dear love, I  was in Haines on a private retreat in a small cabin on Paradise Cove with my then 9-month-old daughter, Lily Hope.  I remember hearing about the struggles the local Tlingit were having with the local, state and federal governments regarding the Native rights and use of the Chilkoot Lake and River.  It was an emotional time for many of the local Tlingits.  Over the next couple of decades, I had come to know many of the folks in this film.  I watched this film many years ago when it first came out in 1981, just a year after it was filmed.  I bought this copy for only $10 at the Sealaska Heritage Institute retail shop and watched it again.  All but one or two of the elders in the film have all passed.  It was emotional 34 years ago as it was today.

Categories: Arts & Culture

DAY OF PLAY - September 12

Parks and Recreation Special Events - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 12:51pm
Date of Event: Wednesday, Sep 02 - Join us at all Parks and Rec facilities and other CBJ sites for a DAY OF PLAY. Fun for the whole family!
Categories: Arts & Culture, Outdoors

P&R Newsletter

Parks and Recreation Special Events - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 12:49pm
Take a minute to look over the latest Parks and Recreation Department news.
Categories: Arts & Culture, Outdoors

Mt Jumbo Gym opens Tuesday 9/8 for pre-school play

Parks and Recreation Special Events - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 11:28am
Date of Event: Wednesday, Sep 02 - You can also reserve Mt. Jumbo for parties or sports time. Call 586-5226 for information
Categories: Arts & Culture, Outdoors

Guest Post: James Engelhardt on Working for Authors

49 Writers - Wed, 09/02/2015 - 7:32am
James EngelhardtAs I start this project, I want to thank 49Writers for the opportunity to be a guest on their blog. 

I arrived in Alaska in early June, 2011. I had just driven from Lincoln, Nebraska, and I was dizzy with light. Over the next few months, I had a crash course in Alaska: people, history, politics, literature, and so much more. I brought with me very few preconceived notions (I believe in letting the place teach you about itself) and a sense that I was at the University of Alaska Press to work for Alaska authors—academic and not. 

During my stay, I’ve made my share of mistakes (from the first summer: When are the Fourth of July fireworks? Answer: New Year’s), but I’ve spent my time learning Alaska. While I haven’t done a lot of quintessential Alaskan things—too much time behind a desk, reading—I have had experts and artists and visionaries come to me to teach me about their love of the state. It has been an extraordinary education, and I expect to keep learning more for years to come. 

What has kept me behind the desk, too, has been that desire to work for authors. Also with authors, but I’d like to explore that “for” a bit. I don’t know about every press, but at UAP we do a lot of work to help authors succeed. And not just our authors but Alaska authors. We’re trying to find great books in order to stay in business, of course, but we’re also thinking about the long haul, and our books will succeed if the name “Alaska” means something more than what we see on reality TV. So we think of our books as a way to keep telling the rest of the world about the great stuff happening up here.

Of course, we also spend a lot of time working with authors. We’re a small publisher, so when I say we work with an author, I mean we’re talking a lot. First with my office, then in production, on to marketing, and even well after the book is finished. What that means—and this is useful to understand—is that finding an author carries a bit of match-making with it. Publishing is like a marriage, so authors and editors need to be comfortable with each other. It’s important for authors (as well as editors) to remember that.

Over the years, I’ve met amazing Alaska authors. Great people with great projects. Some of the projects weren’t for us, but they did get published in other places. And I continue to be happy for them as their dreams get realized and Alaska gains a new voice. With each new voice, I get a chance to learn, too, about this great state we all call home.  

James Engelhardt is the acquisitions editor at the University of Alaska Press and a former managing editor of Prairie Schooner. His scholarly and creative writing appears in numerous literary journals and anthologies.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Alaska Shorts: "Nome, 1953" by John Tetpon

49 Writers - Tue, 09/01/2015 - 6:10am
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.
Categories: Arts & Culture

Chilkat “Tunic” T-shirt

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 8:50pm

“Raven Steals the Sun” Chilkat “tunic” t-shirt design by Clarissa Rizal – 1994

Over 20 years ago I designed this Chilkat “tunic” specifically for a t-shirt.  I think only 5 or so shirts were printed.  I’m not sure why I didn’t print any more than that.  Anyway, if all goes as planned, I will have these T-shirts available for sale at the Clan Conference in Juneau, Alaska where a group of us local weavers will be doing another demonstration/presentation in the lobby of Centennial Hall starting on Thursday, October 29th.  See you then!

Categories: Arts & Culture

From the Archives: Deb Vanasse on That Glint of Light

49 Writers - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 10:54am

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.

Categories: Arts & Culture

Northwest Coast Artist Gathering

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 6:29pm

What is an artist gathering without breakfast!? L to R: Teri Rofkar, Diane Douglas-Willard, Delores Churchill, Allison Bremner, David Boxley, Jr., Nathan Jackson, Wayne Price, Jerrod Galanin, Israel Shotridge, Sue Shotridge

What is the purpose of a small group of large egos coming together in a cozy space  for two full days have to do with creating art?

L to R: Lily Hope, Sue and Israel Shotridge, Wayne Price, Jeremiah James, Allison Bremner, David Boxley, Jr., Delores Churchill, Gordon Greenwald, Deborah Head, Da-ka-xeen Mehner

The Sealaska Heritage Institute sponsored it’s first Northwest Coast Artist Gathering to seek advice from approximately 26 Sealaska shareholder (or descendants of shareholder) artists for their Native Artist Program.   Some of the programs include:  the SHI Retail Shop, the Native Artist Market held during the bi-ennial Celebration, the Apprentice/Mentorship Program, and the most recent proposal of the Dugout Canoe Project.

L to R: Allison Bremner, Crystal Worl, David Boxley, Jr., Wayne Price, Nathan Jackson, Da-ka-xeen Mehner, Clarissa Rizal, Steven Jackson, Jeremiah James, Preston Singletary

I think that I can speak for most if not all of us, that it was an honor for all of us to be in the presence of one another while we touched upon a number of subjects having to do with the creation of art, the passing on of the knowledge, and the marketing of our work while still maintaining a sense of balance in our lives within the basis of our Native spirituality.  I think all of us had a good time getting to know one another since we come from many different backgrounds and communities along the Northwest Coast of this continent.  I know that all of us felt that natural high of being in the same room with one another and having the opportunity to share ideas and inspire one another during our breakfasts and lunches together.  Thank you to Sealaska Heritage Institute for putting together a fine Gathering.

Wayne Price explains the method to his madness of his adz work in the new Walter Soboleff Center  to: Steve and Nathan Jackson, David Boxley, Jr., and Da-ka-xeen Mehner

Back in 1981, I was hired (as the 5th employee) of Sealaska Heritage Institute as their Scholarship Coordinator.  There was Executive Director David Katzeek, Secretary Lisa Sarabia, Scholarship Coordinator Mary McNeil who was training me to take her position, and my Aunt Katherine Mills who was recording our language and many of the Native stories and songs that eventually Dick and Nora Dauenhauer transcribed and translated into written books published by SHI.  The Bi-ennial “Celebration” had not even been created yet, though in 1981 there was a gathering of the elders who at that time felt there needed to be an event which provided an opportunity for the sharing of the oratory, the stories, history and legends, and the song and dance.  Hence, Celebration began in 1982.

Guest Artist, Aleutique carver Perry Eaton explains the invite to the French exhibit in 2016,   L to R Rosita Worl, Preston Singeltary, Holli Churchill, Lily Hope and Rico Worl.

Rosita Worl has been at the helm of Sealaska Heritage Institute for 17 years.  I have watched SHI grow into the institute that it has become.  As I said in my introduction at the gathering, although I don’t agree with some of Rosita’s business  tactics, I commend her on the dedication she has towards making things happen at SHI, not to mention her dream of creating the beautiful Walter Soboleff Building that now houses the inner workings of SHI with all of its language, art and culture programs, publications, retail shop, exhibit hall, simulated clan house and archives.

1981 was nearly 35 years ago.  I was a kid, really.  I was going through the motions of being a responsible young parent, a young artist, a young mind full of ideas, hopes and dreams.  I’m still kind of like that, but now I am facing another type of dream which includes more responsibility than I thought I had 35 years ago.  I feel a responsibility towards our younger generations.  There are many of us who are not going to be around much longer; many of us in our 50s and 60+ are beginning to feel like we have to pass on our knowledge before our time is up!  And it’s not just the technique we teach, it is our Native values and our process of being in how we pass on our knowledge.  No Westerner is going to be able to teach what we know spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.  It is next to impossible because they don’t “have the connection” – that DNA that innately is passed from one generation of a people to the next.  For example, it would be impossible for me to teach the African weavers how to weave their style with their ways because I was not born to that bloodline or landscape or culture; nor would I want to take away from their livelihood.

Right side of the room: Closest to furthest away…Sue Shotridge, Israel Shotridge, Wayne Price, David Boxley, Sr., Allison Bremner, David Boxley, Jr., Chuck Smythe, Gordon Greenwald, Konrad Frank, Deborah Head, Nobu Kock (w/camer) and Da-ka-xeen Mehner

So when SHI talks about their “Formline Curriculum” (which was just published at the disappointment of many of our artists), and their idea of partnering with the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau to create the Northwest Coast Art Academy, to inspire and teach our younger generation of artists and scholars, then judging by this most recent past and the fact that the formline curriculum was drafted (by non-Natives with the token Native advisers), printed and distributed, and SHI puts our Non-Native scholars up on a pedestal and is not in the habit of employing our own Native scholars, advisers, teachers and artists, then what makes us believe and think that our own Native teachers will truly be at the helm of the Native Art classes offered at UAS to give the “stamp of approval and credit” that now we have taught and created true “Northwest Coast Native artists?”

Lunch time with Perry Eaton connecting with several of the Northwest Coast artists

The teaching of Northwest Coast Native Art taught in an academic setting by non-Native art instructors is a big concern to some of us Native artists.  Big concern, though many of us do not voice our opinions about it for a number of reasons.  Why?  Fear.  There is a possibility we get ousted out by SHI and UAS and ousted by other fellow artists who are “part of the academic circle” — we are accused of being racists, we fear to be ousted out by grant organizations, other art institutions, galleries, cultural centers, etc. etc.  None of us want to be accused of racism, or not have the opportunities that other Native artists have in the art world, or not be able to provide for our families because we fear that eventually there is no support for us, and we find ourselves alone because even our fellow Native artists may shun us.  It’s a horrible feeling to THINK about these things.  So what do we tend to do?  We keep our mouths shut.  There are many of us who will not speak up about our disappointments in how the non-Native artists, academics and cultural centers such as SHI have not hired our own people for prominent jobs.  Why not?  Some of the reasons may be because they feel that the non-Native have more experience at teaching in the academic arena, or that the non-Native is more knowledgeable about the topic.  Of course, that is how it is going to be.  We are not of the western mind-set and do not necessarily teach in the same way that is for sure, however, this is no excuse, because as studies have shown, Native people learn in an entirely different manner than non-Native so therefore, it is only sensible that a Native person teach our Native students.

Sure we have the Artist Gathering to provide advice and guidance to assist SHI (and other institutions for that matter).  And we touched upon all kinds of topics to assist them in assisting us.  But truly, how many of us Native artists will directly benefit from donating SHI four days of our precious time (two days of prep/travel and two days of actual gathering time)?  We each gave SHI and our communities 4 days of our time; in a culture where reciprocity is important, how will those four days be reciprocated?  And how many of our younger generation of artists will benefit from the advice we gave to influence the actions and decisions of SHI, and eventually UAS and other institutions that say that they are here to help us preserve and perpetuate Native art, language and culture?

How come the topic of Native indigenous hire as opposed to non-Native hire was not ever brought up during the gathering?
Because all of us know this is a topic of “hot” discussion and no one wanted to rock the boat; this was not the purpose of this gathering, yet the topic is something that many of us are passionate about.   No one brought it up because many of us have the same fears and we don’t speak up for reasons named above.  And the topic was not discussed because both SHI (and UAS)  know that they will not be able to live up to the idea, let alone the promise or written agreement, that no matter what, they will always hire the Native over the non-Native.  Bottom line.

Notice the small binder provided for every artist attending the NWC Artist Gathering: each binder was personalized with the artist’s name.  Like how cool is that?

Another topic of discussion that was not brought up though many of us had thought about some time before, during or after the Gathering was nepotism.  What is the definition of nepotism?  It is the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.

Many of us artists have wondered how come certain individuals who are just budding artists are given business opportunities that we have never achieved (until maybe later in our art careers) let alone knew about?  Again, many of us know about the nepotism going on at SHI, but no one says anything to or about the head master for fear of being ousted (because of any or all of the reasons above).

Two artists of the younger generation: Jerrod Galanin and Crystal Worl

I personally have been ousted or “edged out” a number of times in a variety of ways by the head master at SHI.  The only reason I was in attendance at this particular Gathering was because of the selection committee called the “Native Artist Panel” who placed my name in the hat of prominent Native artists to invite.   Do I hold being “edged out” on a number of things over the years against her?  No… because for nearly 40 years I have earned my position as an artist and teacher by hard work and through other’s support, and I have not needed SHI; nor do I need them still.  Though I feel that SHI needs artists like myself who gain their respect through honor, diligence, focus and the intent to assist other fellow artists and next generations; we have come to where we find ourselves today.  Bottom line:  I feel SHI needs us more than we need them.  Hence, this artist gathering.

Back to the concept of nepotism at SHI.  As a fellow human and mother/grandmother, I understand where the head master moves from.  I understand her position as a mother, grand-mother, great-grandmother.  I know what it feels to be protective of our close relations and of the younger generation.  We want them to do well, live well, be well.  We want the best for them.  And many of us will do what it takes, whatever it takes to see that our offspring are taken care of, even at the expense of others who may be more “deserving” of a position, whatever form that position may be, or even if it means stepping on the toes of others, or stealing ideas or concepts or intent from others.  People catch on.  In these latter cases, the energies do not bode well for an empire that will continue to stand well and long.  These types of actions lack the fostering of trust, good feelings, honest dialogue with true, supportive, enthusiastic work and exciting, worthy co-sponsorship.

If SHI wants to continue being at the forefront of our Northwest Coast Native art and culture, they must remember where their financial support comes from: the Sealaska Corporation and additional financial support from major local, state, federal and private donors.  Even though the Sealaska Corporation’s Board of Directors know about the nepotism (and who knows what else) how is it that Sealaska Corporation continues to support SHI?  Don’t they know the organization treads on a thin line with that kind of behavior?  To lose the empire because of nepotism and other behind-the-scene workings for personal gain would indeed be the real shame.

SHI Art Director Kari Groven, Sealaska Chairman of the Board Joe Nelson, basketweaver Delores Churchill and silversmith Chilkat weaver Darlene See share a moment of laughter as they stage their interaction for the camera!

About the Innocent:  Who are the innocent?  I define them as those relatives who the head master had maternal concern.  I feel for those who are the “innocent” relatives.  They know not many things.  Many of us artists who are aware of the nepotism going on at SHI who come into contact with the “innocent” may respond accordingly:  we hold their position against them, we may be jealous of how they have been handed a “silver platter” of opportunities though they have not truly “worked for it” as we have, or we think their work should not be a representation of our Native art because they are not “well-versed” in the concept of the design work and their character and their personalities have not yet evolved to be out their in the world of art and business.

I know it will not be easy when the “innocent” ones “wake up” and they see the workings of the good intentions of their relative though at the expense of others.  When the “innocent”  wake up, they may initially feel shame, a natural response.  (Though I encourage them to feel no shame since they did not know what the “behind the scene” workings were; that is why they, in my mind, are called the “innocents.”)  The feeling of shame may be immediately shrouded with justifications they pull out of their sleeve and they may feel they had the right all along to all the opportunities.  And then the feelings of denial come into play; they denial there is anything wrong with how things came to be.  These stages are all a part of the human “loss.”    All of these feelings and these stages are natural because the innocent will know they are no longer innocent.  Now because of their knowledge of how they came to be where they are at today, they are now being called out to be held accountable for what they now know.  They lost.  They lost their innocence.  And now they will be held responsible for any actions or words from that day forth.

Those who were aware of the nepotism and the “innocent,” how shall we respond when they “awaken” and know?  What do we do about any and all of this?  How do we help them process their awakening?  Are these things important to us?  Are these people important to us?  Is our art and culture important to us?  Or do we just complain and complain, and hide and hide, and keep our mouth shut and keep our mouth shut?  Who loses if one loses?  We all do.  Bottom line:  we all lose if we lose even one.

Two buddies, Clarissa Rizal and carver Wayne Price

Do we want to lose Rosita Worl?  No, not really.  She’s a true powerhouse that get’s it done; in Wayne and my words about ourselves working on projects:  “…just getterdun!”  Rosita has the attitude of “let’s getterdun!”  And we admire that.  So what do we want her to let go of?   We just want her to lose the habit of nepotism and for her to stay on sight of her initial vision she had when she was first given power of SHI.  She wanted, and still wants, to help our people in ways that she thinks are important.  However, the methods in which any of us in a place of power employ are always scrutinized by the rest of us, and if we mis-use our power, it is not forgotten.  Does she care to lose any one of us?  I don’t know, but many good people have gone by the wayside because of hurt and anger due to some of her ways that have been questionable.  Many refuse to have anything to do with SHI.  This is a sad case.

It is not easy to set aside the feelings of hurt and anger.  I’ve had to deal with it time and time again with her.  However, I learned a long, long time ago from the guidance of Tlingit elder Harry K. Bremner, Sr.  and from the late Andy Hope III, that it doesn’t matter what people do and say and if it hurts you; if they are the track to get things done for our people, then set aside your ego and do it anyway even if someone else gets the credit, because all in all, it’s for the greater good of our people,…the greater good of humanity.

Weaver Teri Rofkar and carver Wayne Price discuss the politics around mountain goat hunting

So with all that I have said here, then you may ask:  what was the true purpose of this SHI Artists Gathering?  As I mentioned earlier:  we came together invited by SHI’s Native Artists Committee to provide advice to SHI for their various projects to help them work out the bugs to advance their offerings to help advance the careers of their Shareholders who are artists.  We are all in this together; there is no “us” and “them.”  What affects one, affects us all.

After breaking out in three working groups, each group presented their advice for the topics at large (some of the comments are written on the large Post-It notes on the wall. Listening are: Preston Singletary, Holli Churchill, Rico Worl, Ronnie Fairbanks, Deborah Frank-McLavey, Diane Douglas-Willard, Nathan Jackson, Steven Jackson, Teri Rofkar, Jerrod Galanin and Crystal Worl

Crystal Worl presents her design method concepts to the gathering

Holli Churchill, Gordon Greenwald and Deborah Head in action…


Parting: Sue Shotridge, Deborah Frank-McLavey, Diane Douglas-Willard, Teri Rofkar


Categories: Arts & Culture

Rescheduled 11-14 Year old Youth Outdoor Soccer Playoffs

Parks and Recreation Special Events - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 11:23am
Date of Event: Friday, Aug 28 - New Playoff schedule - please contact your coach
Categories: Arts & Culture, Outdoors

FREE Discover Skating Day

Parks and Recreation Special Events - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 11:20am
Thinking about participating in skating lessons or Youth or Adult Hockey? Try it out for FREE Saturday, August 29 Skating lessons with Juneau Skating Club 2:15-3:15 & hockey 3:30-5:30pm. Open to all ages-No experience required - hockey gear 1st come 1st served.
Categories: Arts & Culture, Outdoors

Weekly Roundup of Writing Opportunities for August 28

49 Writers - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 5:00am
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)
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.comOnce 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 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 authorZoe Ferraris presented via teleconference on Thursday, September 17th, 7:00pmat the Innovation Lab in the Lousasac Library.Zoë 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  Event address: Z.J. Loussac Public Library
3600 Denali Street Anchorage, AK 99503
Nature and Travel Writing ClassAnchorage 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 Further information about the teacher is also available at
Anchorage Museum has posted their Schedule of Programs for July and August. Visit 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 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 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-6:00pmIoana 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 5thWorld, 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 Whistleblowingpresents 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 302ATed Galen Carpenter:  U.S. Foreign PolicyTed 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 307Instagram and Social Media with Julia O’MalleyCome 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 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
EVENTS AROUND ALASKASOUTHCENTRAL, MAT-SU, KENAI PENINSULAOn Thursday, September 10, Gary Geddes and Ann Erikssonwill be reading at 7pm at the Kachemak Bay Campus of the Kenai Peninsula College. 
SOUTHEASTThis 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 readingby 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 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 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 : 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: 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
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
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!
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.
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 or visit
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.
CIRQUE 7.1 Submission deadline: September 21, 2015Publication 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.comDonations: Please make donations at www.paypal.comto this email address,, or send a check to Sandra Kleven or Michael Burwell (editors) at CIRQUE, 3978 DEFIANCE STREET, ANCHORAGE, AK 99504Incentives: 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.comSubscriptions:  $40 per year.  Go to www.cirquejournal.comto subscribe.  Or send an email to and we'll work out payment.
The Alaska Quarterly Reviewwill 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
Have news or events you'd like to see listed here? Email details to 49roundup (at) 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

Youth Soccer Playoff CANCELLED for Thursday, 8/27

Parks and Recreation Special Events - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 3:30pm
Date of Event: Thursday, Aug 27 - Youth Soccer PLAYOFF scheduled for tonight, Thursday 8/27 has been rescheduled to Saturday at 10 a.m. Please get in touch with your coach. We apologize for any inconvenience, however, this is a weather delay.
Categories: Arts & Culture, Outdoors

Attended 4th “Kus Te Yea Celebration”

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 2:58pm

A feast is held each of the 3 nights of the “Kus Te Yea” Celebration at the Teslin Cultural Center, Teslin, Yukon


Categories: Arts & Culture

From the Archives: Deb Vanasse on What Words Can Express

49 Writers - Thu, 08/27/2015 - 6:17am

“Find the key emotion; this may be all you need know to find your short story.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
Emotion is among the few things we don’t have to be taught, assuming that all the normal synapses are firing. No one has to tell us how to be sad or angry or cart-wheel happy. So when we speak of emotional resonance, or of the emotional core of our work, or of the emotional depth of our characters, we’re talking about what comes naturally, right?
Not exactly. It is true what Ron Carlson says, that “The literary story deals with the complicated human heart…people bearing up in the crucible of our days.”  It’s also true that feelings, translated as empathy, are what make our writing memorable and meaningful. But if the transfer of feelings to words were as instinctive as breathing, we wouldn’t need literature. And you can’t simply season your writing with emotion, like pepper in a pot. In the wrong hands, emotion comes off as sappy or melodramatic, or as toying with readers. 
“I was full of a tense excitement as well as regret,” says Del in Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women, when her father announces he'll have to kill the family’s wayward dog. That won’t do, you say. She’s telling, not showing. Yes, but Munro has earned the right to announce these feelings, through the careful peeling back of who her characters are and the trouble they’ve gotten into.  And in a scene where Del’s brother prays that their dad won’t go through with the shooting, Munro proves she can show emotion, not just tell it: “With the making of his prayer his face went through several desperate, private grimaces, each of which seemed to me a reproach and an exposure, hard to look at as skinned flesh.”
You have to go deep to convey real emotion, boring to bedrock and sometimes beyond. You can’t be lazy or complacent with it. Consider this passage, also from Munro’s novel, in which Del, desperate to not have to view the body of her deceased uncle, bites her mentally challenged cousin, only to be forgiven by her hovering relatives:
“Being forgiven creates a peculiar shame. I felt hot, and not just from the blanket. I felt held close, stifled, as if it was not air I had to move and talk through in this world but something thick as cotton. This shame was physical, but went far beyond sexual shame, my former shame of nakedness; now it was as if not the naked body but all the organs inside it – stomach, heart, lungs, liver – were laid bare and helpless. The nearest thing to this that I had ever known before was the feeling I got when I was tickled beyond endurance – horrible, voluptuous feeling of exposure, of impotence, self-betrayal. And shame went spreading out from me all through the house, covered everybody, even Mary Agnes, even Uncle Craig in his present disposable, vacated condition. To be made of flesh was humiliation.  I was caught in a vision which was, in a way, the very opposite of the mystic’s incommunicable vision of order and light; a vision, also incommunicable, of confusion and obscenity – of helplessness, which was revealed as the most obscene thing there could be.”
Munro starts with a physical sensation associated with shame: “I felt hot.” Avoiding cliché, she expands on it:  “I felt held close, stifled, as if it was not air I had to move through but something thick as cotton.”  She pushes deeper: “This shame was physical, but went far beyond sexual shame,” connecting Del’s feeling with backstory, “my former shame of nakedness,” and goes on to evoke a unique and horrifying extension - organs laid out, bare and helpless. She doesn’t leave us there, shocked, but reels back with a comparison we can all relate to, being “tickled beyond endurance.” A lesser writer might have left it there, but Munro probes deeper, describing the “horrible, voluptuous feeling of exposure, of impotence, self-betrayal.” From emotion comes revelation: “To be made of flesh was humiliation.” To know we can’t escape shame is an anti-vision of confusion and obscenity – one more way for us to feel what Del feels.
Not every emotion must be mined this fully; if it were, the reader – not to mention the writer – would soon grow weary. Like all decisions we writers make, the depth with which an emotion is explored has everything to do with the characters and the spine of the narrative, as well as the style of the writer. In Swamplandia, Karen Russell shows what her main character Ava feels as she tries to deny to her brother that she’s like their sister Ossie, who claims to channel the dead:
“But in fact I was like Ossie, in this one regard: I was consumed by a helpless, often furious love for a ghost. Every rock on the island, every swaying tree branch or dirty dish in our house was like a word in a sentence that I could read about my mother. All objects and events on our island, every single thing that you could see with your eyes, were like clues I could use to reinvent her: would our mom love this thing, would she hate it? For a second I luxuriated in a real hatred of my brother.”
With simple adjectives and verbs, Russell conveys the paradox inherent in most strong emotions: “helpless, often furious love” and “luxuriated in real hatred.” Like all good metaphors, hers have a visual effect, implying action as she heightens our understanding of Ava’s love: ordinary household items are each “like a word in a sentence I could read about my mother,” and “everything you could see with your eyes” contains “clues I could use to reinvent her.”
Emotional depth is of sufficient interest among writers for Ann Hood to have written an entire book about it:  Creating Character Emotions.  In it, she identifies mistakes writers make with regard to emotion, warning especially of vagueness and ambiguity. “Instead of considering the plot of the story and the character’s own emotional place, the writer relies on a nonspecific emotion and hopes the reader fills in the blanks,” she says, noting that ambiguity is often the result of a writer not trusting enough in her own emotional experiences and therefore not being willing to explore them.
To get it right, Hood suggests making an emotional timeline, first for yourself and then for your characters. Another idea is to use props to suggest emotion, or to show a character trying to hide her feelings. Interior monologue can sometimes be used to great emotional effect, as can an unpredictable emotional response, like Uncle Benny in Munro’s novel, who starts to laugh when confronted with the truth about his mail order bride, who beat her child:  “Uncle Benny chuckled miserably…Once Uncle Benny had started chuckling he couldn’t stop, it was like hiccups.” This is the complicated human heart: paradoxical, challenged, and real.
Try This: From Poets and Writers newsletter “The Time is Now” comes this exercise: The term "bewildered" can mean many things--to be perplexed, confused, or mystified; to have lost one's bearings; to be turned around or disoriented; to be baffled or bamboozled, befogged or befuddled. Write about an experience that left you bewildered--focusing not so much on what brought you to that moment but what it felt like once you arrived there. Try to put the feeling into words without using any of  the dictionary's many definitions of the word. 
Check This Out: In Creating Character Emotions, Ann Hood devotes a chapter to each of thirty-six different emotions, offering bad and good examples for each, along with exercises. While her approach is a little too clunky for my taste, it doesn’t hurt to maintain an awareness of all these emotions, and good examples of anything literary are always a plus. 
Categories: Arts & Culture

Blessed Unrest - A guest post by Erin Hollowell

49 Writers - Wed, 08/26/2015 - 6:00am
There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.
No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

~ Martha Graham

I don't know what I could possibly add to this quote other than to attest to its truth. If you think that becoming a writer will make you happy – If you think that a day will come that you will feel satisfied and complete – If you think that there is a day when at last you will be the writer you've always imagined, I tell you that day will never come. But if you think that by choosing to devote yourself to becoming a better writer, to sharing your work, and to helping other writers, you will grow beyond whatever you can imagine – that I can promise. I'm so glad that 49 Writers can be part of the journey.
Categories: Arts & Culture

From The Archives: Deb Vanasse on Transcendence

49 Writers - Mon, 08/24/2015 - 5:17am

“I’m in love,” says Reagan Arthur, editor of the eponymous imprint at Little Brown Books. “I can’t wait to see what happens next.”
That’s how Arthur describes her response to exceptional books. Editors, agents, and readers often speak of books this way, with passion. Can this sort of book love be pinned down, described, analyzed? 
Consider Anne Lamott’s enthusiastic endorsement of Kathleen Winter’s debut novel Anabel. “It reads with such caring,” Lamott says. “It’s such a gift.”  How we got here, who we are, what we do now, how we awaken if in fact we do – the novel delves into all of these questions, Lamott says. 
Transcendence. That’s what literary agent Noah Lukeman calls a book that addresses such questions.  Of course, not everyone agrees on what transcendence means or where it applies. Winter’s book, for instance, garnered no starred reviews; in fact, a Publishers Weekly review calls its delivery “heavy-handed,” and its Amazon ranking is nothing to get excited about. Still, who wouldn’t be thrilled if even one writer with the chops of Lamott were to rave about the transcendence of our work, saying in essence that the world needs this book, Amazon rankings be damned.
Timing is everything when it comes to transcendence - not the timing of the project, though it is possible that what’s unappreciated in one era may transcend to another - but the writer’s timing in weighing the value of her work. Too much early concern about transcendence can kill a project before it ever gets off the ground. Too much early conviction regarding its importance breeds grandiosity, leading writers to invest large chunks of time into stuff no one wants to read, at which point the writers typically throw their hands in the air and complain that the world simply doesn’t get their particular manifestation of genius.
In The Plot Thickens, Lukeman warns that there are no formulas for genuine transcendence, but he does point to some of its common elements. Though not vague, transcendent works are open to interpretation. “The more levels, the more there is to work with,” Lukeman says. Transcendent writing also features multidimensional characters and circumstances. And transcendent work feels timeless. Regardless of era, readers will deeply identify with it. In reading, they’ll feel they’ve learned something, especially about themselves.  
“Works that leave lasting impressions are usually greater than the sum of their parts,” Lukeman says. “The greatness lies not in any individual character, or setting, or story twist, but in the coming together of these elements.” The ideal work, he adds, takes the audience through four stages, from curiosity to interest to need and, in rare instances, to action.
Though aiming for transcendence can be counterproductive, we can at least shoot for an awareness of what we mean to achieve. Lukeman suggests checking in with ourselves, at the deepest level, to discover what prompts us to write. If we write from defensiveness or insecurity, we’ll likely come off as aggressive. If we write out of pride, to prove how smart we are, our work becomes a showcase for high language and affected speech.  If at the root of our writing there’s fear, we wind up overstating. Revenge, control, deception – there are any number of poor motives that will show through in our work.  
“It is your job to clear the slate, to create a sacred space in your mind just for the writing, free from all your neuroses as a person. The writing must be about the art as much as possible,” Lukeman says. “No matter what your goal or motivation, you should strive to write from a place of truth and love.”  
When it comes to transcendence, try not to try too hard. Pushing for profundity, writing with an agenda, preaching a moral (or two or three or ten): don’t be fooled by any of these self-important pursuits. Humility, vulnerability – these are among the most transcendent perspectives in writing, because they open a work to its emotional core.
Try This: Lukeman suggests asking yourself and five other readers these questions: Does my work inspire curiosity, interest, need, or action? Why or why not? On a scale of 1 to 10, how inspirational is it in each of these areas? Where it’s lacking, how can it change?
Check This Out: In The Plot Thickens, literary agent Noah Lukeman has a gift for cutting to the chase without coming off as harsh or judgmental. He covers eight aspects of narrative, that deserve our attention, including transcendence. In addition to straightforward explanations, he includes practical exercises.  
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Categories: Arts & Culture

Santa Fe Indian Market Time

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Sat, 08/22/2015 - 4:44pm

Wearing a Tammy Beauvois “beaded” dress and a pair of Chilkat armbands that she wove, Clarissa stands between her Chilkat curtains (she designed and printed), with her latest Chilkat robe behind her on the loom below “An Ocean Runs Through Us” Limited Edition Giclee triptych print – Photo by Juli Ferrerra

I had never heard of the Santa Fe Indian Market until August 1987; it was the first time I had seen so much fantastic art in all my life.  One of the first booths I had seen was the Alaskan gal Denise Wallace’s jewelry; of course there was a huge crowd around her booth like no one else’s because her astounding jewelry was like none other.  She was and still is, a celebrity.

Northwest Coast Native Tlingit artist Clarissa Rizal with Julia White from the Tulsa Artist Residency

The market opens early Saturday at 7am for those art collectors who are racing for that prize possession and enthusiasts who want to get ahead of the crowd.  I had heard several people from a number of institutions came by my booth that early but I was not available.  Directly after I spent 2 hours setting up my booth, directly at 7 I had to pick up my “Chilkat Child” who I had entered into the Juried Art Show; it took about an hour of waiting in line.  However, I was able to catch Julia White, the coordinator of the Tulsa Artist Residency, from which I was one of 12 artists across the nation who was chosen as a recipient of their inaugural residency fellowship to live and work in Tulsa, Oklahoma for a year.

Full view of Clarissa Rizal’s booth (day 2)  at the Santa Fe Indian Market 2015

I did my very first Santa Fe Indian Market in 1994 winning the Best of Show with my “Following My Ancestor’s Trail” button blanket wall mural which sold to a collector from Tuscon, Arizona.  I won about $5K in awards, sold my load of button blanket greeting cards featuring 9 of my favorite robes, and sold a Ravenstail headdress.  I walked away with a chunk of change; it was enough to put a down payment on a house!

Left side of Clarissa Rizal’s booth at the Santa Fe Indian Market 2015, featuring “Northwest by Southwest” button blanket robe surrounded by Giclee prints, and clothing/ceremonial regalia for children

The Santa Fe Indian Market is a zoo; it draws about 100,000 visitors from all over the world for the week before and after the Market.  Lots of traffic jams in Santa Fe during this time.  I don’t understand how artists can do this show every year.  I cannot do this show every year.  It takes me about 4 years to re-couperate which is why this is only the 5th time I have been an artist vendor at the market.  It’s a lot of work to prepare for the market, then we gotta set up at 5am to 7am when the market opens.  And when the day is done at 5pm, we gotta strike the set and pack it up, only to do the same thing the next day.  It doesn’t sound like much, but believe me, it IS!

Right side of Clarissa Rizal’s booth at the Santa Fe Indian Market 2015 featuring “Egyptian Thunderbird” button robe surrounded by Limited Edition Giclee and hand-silkscreened prints and the 5-piece Chilkat woven ensemble “Chilkat Child” all by Clarissa Rizal

I had a good time at this market.  It was the first time my booth faced the sunshine; I think that is why I enjoyed this year better than all the other years.  You see, when I come from a grey, damp place like Juneau, Alaska and land in the arid country of Santa Fe, New Mexico, it naturally puts a smile in my body.  Many of us Tlingits know what I experience!

And yes, all the items you see in these photos of my booth at the market are for sale, except the white curtains and the chilkat robe on the loom.   I invite you to contact me for prices and more information.

Cousins Likoodzi and Violet

Another pleasant aspect of this year’s Indian Market included being with my kids and grandchildren during the week.  There’s nothing like being a grandma.  And though I am not a great grandmother, I am learning how to become one…!

Israel Shotridge, Preston Singletary, Sue Shotridge (obscured) and Clarissa Rizal talk definition of a mentor – photo by Kahlil Hudson

The night before the market, several Tlingit artists gathered together for a dinner at my son’s house in Santa Fe.  We were discussing the logistics of creating a mentorship program for our artists back home, based on New Zealand’s Maori artists.  We asked ourselves enough questions, like “What does it mean to be a mentor?  How do you know you are a mentor?  What are the expectations of self as a Mentor and expectations from the apprentice?

Kahlil holds daughter Violet while the little old man “Hassie” runs amok!

There are many events sponsored by other organizations outside of SWAIA’s (Southwest Association of Indian Arts) annual Indian Market, including an offspring of the Indian Market called IFAM which takes place for two days at the “Railyard”; there’s an artist supply market at the El Dorado Hotel de Santa Fe; there’s Dorothy Grant’s fashion show and of course, numerous gallery openings!

The 2015 Institute of American Indian Arts Scholarship Dinner and Auction

The Institute of American Indian Arts Scholarship Gala is held the Wednesday before the Santa Fe Indian Market (Saturday & Sunday); the place is packed with prominent artists, arts organizations across the country including representatives from NMAI (National Museum of the American Indian), NACF (Native Arts & Culture Foundation), art historians and collectors.  I was invited by NACF to be a guest at their table since I had recently won this year’s fellowship.

Who were these people who shared a delicious meal at the IAIA Gala dinner table?

Nearly 22 years ago when I first had a booth at the Santa Fe Indian Market, the only Northwest Coast artist represented was a totem pole carver, Reggie Petersen from Sitka, Alaska.  He said he had been doing the market for nearly 20 years with no other comrades from the Northwest except clothing designer, the late Betty David, and he was so happy to finally see “another Tlingit!”  Although we had never met, he hugged me as if I were the last person on earth!  lol.  His wife, 4 children and he would make it an annual sojourn where they would take the ferry from Sitka to Seattle, then drive to Santa Fe and back again.  He always had a log that he was carving smack dab in the middle of the Santa Fe Plaza.  He said this was one of the ways in which he received commissions for totem poles.  Lots of work being a full-time artist with 4 children.

Haida basket weavers Diane Douglas-Willard, her daughter Jianna and Dolly Garza are vendors at the market too.  Diane says she has been a vendor at the Market for 20 consecutive years.

Tlingit photographer Zoe Marieh Urness and her twin sister with a visitor at her IFAM booth BEFORE the Santa Fe Indian Market

One of the hardest things about being a vendor at the market is that I don’t have time to take a break and visit all the other artists let alone attend all the other activites such as the main-stage performances or the fashion show.  However, the day before Indian Market began, my daughter Lily and I took a jaunt over to the Railyard where the IFAM art show was happening.  We saw several Northwest Coast Native artists including Peter Boome and Zoe Marieh Urness!

Coast Salish artist Peter Boome making a sale with customers at his IFAM booth

I admire the small city of Santa Fe for its unique architecture, dramatic style in clothing, furniture, jewelry — everything for that matter!  Even its people!  Check out the Trader Joe’s de Santa Fe!  Holy—now THERE’s a mixture of all kinds of folks in a middle-class store!  Simply entertaining to watch who shops there.

During the early morning of the first day of the Santa Fe Indian Market, a large group of young protestors marched through announcing their disagreement with the government continuing to pollute the Southwest environment and then lying about it.  I was surprised there was a demonstration yet proud that the younger generation has stepped up to the plate.  It is a good thing to bring awareness to the general public about atrocities to our human race and its well-being.

Sure felt good to see demonstrators for a worthy cause during the opening day of the Santa Fe Indian Market

And then directly after the demonstration, there was this guy across my booth standing with a black, worn-out umbrella.  (He sure looked familiar! Lol.)  The sun wasn’t even at its hottest yet, though he was prepared for anything.  That’s the message for you folks today:  be prepared for anything!

Is that Israel Shotridge under the umbrella on Palace Avenue in Santa Fe, New Mexico during the Indian Market


Categories: Arts & Culture


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