Poets on stage in new series

Posted: Thursday, September 21, 2000

An evening of poetry Monday night will feature the former poet laureate of Alaska as well as an internationally recognized translator of Tlingit oral literature.

Dick Dauenhauer and his wife Nora Marks Dauenhauer will read original poetry and writing at 7 p.m. Monday at the Back Room at the Silverbow. Titled "Between The Lines," it will be the first of a literary reading series to be held the fourth Monday of each month this fall and winter. An open mike for local poets will follow presentations by the featured artists. The cost is $5.

Poet, editor and writer Alexis Ross Miller organized the series. Miller said she was a fan of Richard Dauenhauer's writing even before she saw him read his work aloud.

"I had no idea he was such a good performer as a reader. He's quite funny," she said.

Dauenhauer has published poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and served as an English professor at three different universities. He is fluent in a number of languages and has published hundreds of poems translated from classical Greek, German, Russian, Swedish and Finnish.

Nora Marks Dauenhauer grew up in Juneau and Hoonah in a Tlingit family which commercial fished in Glacier Bay and Icy Straits. Tlingit traditions and a subsistence lifestyle were a major influence on her, and she spoke only Tlingit until she began school. Her creative writings, as well as translations of traditional stories and Native history, have been widely published. She recently published "Life Woven with Song."

The Dauenhauers will present readings, and the audience will be able to ask questions afterward.

Miller said she wanted the series to include the opportunity for local poets to present their own works. After the guests present, she will emcee an open mike for participants to read one or two of their own poems.

"It's important for writers to read aloud in front of people," she said. "It's still scary for me, but it's part and parcel of being a writer. It's a public performance, compared to such a solitary act of going into your room and writing."

Explaining the value of hearing poets read their work, she quoted a phrase by Robert Frost, "Poetry should echo in the cavern in your head." She said hearing poetry is very different than reading it.

"It gives you an entirely different experience. It's important to listen to the words and see how it really sounds," she said. "The poetry that appeals to me is poetry that is musical. There are writers with great images and meaning, but many don't have the music there in the words."

Miller is a published poet and served as editor of the University of Alaska Southeast newspaper, The Whalesong. She worked for several years on the Fairbanks Arts Association board and organized a poetry and literary reading series there. She hopes to collaborate with the Fairbanks arts group this winter to bring outside writers to Alaska for presentations.

The series is sponsored by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and supported by local bookstores, the UAS English department, the Friends of the Library and the Friends of the Museum.

Next month, on Oct. 23, poet Tom Linklater and poet and short story writer Heidi Gosho will read. Poets Rebecca Lee Yates and Susan Hagstrom will be featured Nov. 20. On Dec. 11 prose writers Bridget Smith and Helen Fagen will read, and Jan. 22 essayist and poet Carolyn Servid from Sitka will be featured.

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