Friday, November 27, 2015

Weekly Roundup of Writing Opportunities for November 27

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone.

The last Workshop for this season organized by 49 Writers. Check out the details and register at the 49 Writers website.


LIST AND LITANY with Caroline Goodwin
December 12 from 6:00-9:00pm 
Location: 161 E. 1st Ave., Door 15 (Alaska Humanities Forum)
Price: $45 members/ $55 nonmembers. Register here!

This class is designed to help you walk confidently into the metaphorical “blank page”.  As writers, we must do this again and again, regardless of whether we are seasoned artists or just getting started. Our minds contain many doors, our imaginations many openings and opportunities. In “List and Litany” we will spend the first hour responding to a series of specific prompts. These will take us through several imaginative doors. Next, we will read and begin to shape our writings, looking for any patterns that present themselves. We will listen to Christopher Dewdney perform a section of A Natural History of Southwestern Ontario and we will read a few poems that use listing effectively. The workshop will conclude with a reading and discussion of next steps in developing the writing. Every student will have the opportunity to send a piece of writing to the instructor via snail mail for a brief written response.


Events at the UAA Bookstore

Tuesday, December 1 from 11:30am-2:00pm at the UAA/APU Consortium Library room 307
Alaska Native Masks
Special guests Sven Haakanson, Alvin Amason, Ann Fienup-Riordan,  and Anna Mossolova come together to share their intimate knowledge and study of Alaska Native masks. Introducing the guest speakers will be Maria Shaa Tla Williams, director of Alaska Native Studies at UAA. The nature of masks within expressions of animal symbolism and transformation, and Alaska native mask collections abroad will be discussed. 

Sven Haakanson is former Executive Director of the Alutiiq Museum in KodiakAlaska.
Renowned artist Alvin Eli Amason is Sugpiaq Alaskan painter and sculptor currently developing a native arts program at UAA. Cultural Anthropologist Ann Fienup-Riordan is author of more than 20 books and translations. Anna Mossolova is a UAA Anthropology Department and Alaska Native Studies Program graduate student. This event is sponsored with Alaska Center for the Book and the Anchorage Public Library.
There is free parking for this event in the Library Lot, Library NE Lot, and the East Garage.

Thursday, December 3 from 6:00pm-8:00pm at the UAA/APU Consortium Library, room 307
Author Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan and Ray Bane present Our Perfect Wild
Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan discusses her book is Our Perfect Wild Ray and Barbara Bane's Journeys and the Fate of the Far North, recently published by University of Alaska PressAnd joining Kaylene, via Skype, will be Ray Bane who now resides in Hawaii.
Our Perfect Wild examines the life of Ray and Barbara Bane who in the 1960s worked as teachers in Barrow and Wainwright, Alaska, A decade later, Ray’s dedication to the Alaska Native subsistence lifestyle leads him to work for the National Park Service  as a park planner for Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve and many other National Parks in Alaska.
Kaylene Johnson-Sullivan is also author of the highly acclaimed books Canyons and Ice, the Wilderness Travels of Dick Griffith and the book A Tender Distance: Adventures Raising My Son in Alaska.  
There is free parking for this event in the Library Lot, Library NE Lot, and the East Garage.

Saturday, December 12 from 1:00pm-3:00pm at the UAA/APU Consortium Library, room 307
Chuck Sassara presents Propellers, Politics, and People: Chuck Sassara’s Alaska

Chuck Sassara , a longtime Alaskan, former legislator, pilot, and  businessman, shares his life and adventures in the book Chuck Sassara’s Alaska – Propellers,Politics and People
Everyone is invited to come and hear, uncensored, about the life and times of Chuck Sassara.
There is free parking at UAA on Saturdays

Monday, December 14 from 5:00pm-7:00pm at the UAA/APU Consortium Library, room 302A
Poet Caroline Goodwin presents Peregrine
Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Caroline Goodwin received her MFA in Poetry from the University of British Columbia and was awarded the Wallace Stegner fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University in 1999.
There is free parking at UAA during semester break.    

All UAA Campus Bookstore events are informal, free and open to the public. For more information contact Rachel Epstein at or 786-4782. For a look at future events visit

Local Library Events
Book Signings

The next installation of The Living Room: Stories for Grownups, will be held Friday, Dec. 11, in the back room at Jitters coffee house in Eagle River. Come hear stories and poems from people in our community who love all things literary. The program runs from 7-9 pm. Refreshments served. Mingle with other writers and readers at this free event. See our Facebook page at: The Living Room
Sign up to read or just come and listen. For more info, call Monica Devine at 444-4633.

The Alaska Marine Conservation Council is in search of volunteer storytellers to help lead a 3-hour storytelling workshop for young fishermen. The workshop will take place Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 in Juneau, and will focus on how narrative — expressed through a variety of mediums — can be used at many levels of personal and professional communication. The workshop will offer strategies for fishermen to access and tell their unique story. We believe that strong personal and collective narratives are key factors in advocating for healthy communities and ecosystems, and hope to share useful tools for developing those narratives through this workshop. Ideally, our guest storyteller would also have a connection to Alaskan fisheries, past or present. If interested, please contact Hannah Heimbuch at, or (907) 299-4018



The fifteenth Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference will be held on June 10-14 in Homer. This year's keynote is Pulitzer Prize winning, National Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. She will be joined by Miriam Altshuler (agent), Dan Beachy-Quick, Richard Chiappone, Jennine Capó Crucet, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Forrest Gander, Lee Goodman, Richard Hoffman, Erin Coughlin Hollowell, Sarah Leavitt, Nancy Lord, Jane Rosenman (editor), Peggy Shumaker, Sherry Simpson, Frank Soos, and David Stevenson. For more information and to register go to the website

The sixth annual North Words Writers Symposium will be held May 25-28 in Skagway. Novelist/essayist/editor and storyteller supreme Brian Doyle of Portland, Oregon (Mink River, The Plover, Martin Marten, and the forthcoming Chicago) will be the 2016 keynote author. He will be joined by Alaskan authors Kim Heacox, Eowyn Ivey, Heather Lende, Lynn Schooler, John Straley, and Emily Wall. For more information and to register go to

360 North will start the 2015-16 season of Writers’ Showcase. All Alaska writers are invited to submit fiction and nonfiction pieces. Stories are read before a live studio audience by professional actors, and later broadcast throughout Alaska on statewide public TV and radio. Stories should be about 10 minutes long when read aloud. Profanity will need to be edited for broadcast.
January 18, 2016                                February 25, 2016
April 25, 2016                                    June 2, 2016
Submit to arts [at] ktoo [dot] org.
For questions contact Scott Burton
Arts, Culture and Music Producer at 907.463.6473
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

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

Alderworks Alaska Writers and Artists Retreat will be accepting residency applications November 15, 2015 - January15, 2016. For more information visit

Book Release
Join for a reading and celebration of a new book edited by Jan Straley and illustrated by Norm Campbell: Ed Ricketts from Cannery Row to Sitka, Alaska. The event will take place on Saturday, November 28th, 3pm to 5pm at Old Harbor Books in Sitka

Norm Campbell's original illustrations will be on display and the event will also include a 90th birthday celebration for Ed's daughter Nancy Ricketts.

Your Membership Counts!
Over 1,000 people receive these newsletters. Many of them are members of 49 Writers, knowing that their membership helps support all of the workshops, author tours, CrossCurrents events, readings, blog posts, and craft talks. Won't you join them by becoming a member? October is our annual membership and donation campaign; we hope you'll consider becoming an active part of the 49 Writers family.

49 Writers Volunteer Seta

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.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Guest Post by Caroline Goodwin: List and Litany

I love lists of all kinds. Grocery lists, to-do lists, “catalog verse,” Wikipedia tables (there is a page that contains a list of microorganisms tested in outer space). My interest in the form was sparked when I was an MFA candidate at University of British Columbia in 1992 and I discovered a book by Robert Kroetsch called Seed Catalogue. One long autobiographical poem, it begins with a listing from the catalogue for “Copenhagen Market Cabbage” complete with the catalogue number. I had never seen anything like it before, and it both irritated and fascinated me. This was poetry? Why? I have since read that an implicit lesson in this kind of writing is that “from the apparently innocent, ‘documentary,’ past we may inherit important meaning and ways of seeing” (Russel Brown, “Seeds and Stones: Unhiding in Kroetsch’s Poetry,” Open Letter, 1984). It was my introduction to the concept of poem-as-palimpsest, an ongoing conversation with ourselves, other poets and collectors, science and history.

Or maybe my fascination began with my initial interest in poetry itself. It was 1989, I employed as a forklift driver in the warehouse at Alaska Pulp Corporation in Sitka, and a friend called me from Fairbanks with an urgent request. “You have to hear this,” she said. She had just attended a Joy Harjo reading, and she proceeded to read “I Give You Back” to me over the phone. I was twenty-five years old. I was stunned. You could say these things out loud? You could list your fears and speak directly to them? The world could receive your obsessions and anger, and this was poetry? I wanted more. I enrolled in a creative writing class at University of Alaska Southeast, with Ken Waldman.  Three short years later I was living in Vancouver, BC and in a graduate-level poetry workshop with people who are still my dear and fast friends.

There is a gorgeous 1982 documentary film called Poetry In Motion, directed by Ron Mann. It features several different poets of different schools; some of my favorite clips are Amiri Baraka reading “Wailers” and Toronto experimental poet Christopher Dewdney reading from A Natural History of Southwestern Ontario, Book 2, “Grid Erectile.” In this clip, Dewdney repeats the word “because” at the beginning of every line. The effect is hypnotic. The repetition and the detail become a sort of mantra:

            Because it is a predator.
            Because of its inky fur. Tunnels twisting around roots.
            Because it is a southern species migrating northwards.
                        Evidence for an inter-glacial warming trend.
            Because of their glowing eyes in the driveway at night.
                        Their rasping marsupial cries.
            Because of the caves.
            Because of its unearthly face.
            Because it is all of night.
            Because it is a falcon.
            Because it is sub-tropical.
            Because it is a stilted & accurate blue mist.

The poem goes on like this, exactly like this, and my favorite moment happens much later (and this moment is “favorite” to me because it comes back to me again and again): -- “Because I grew up beside them and they taught me everything I know.”

Here, the natural world becomes both universe and university. For me, growing up on Dimond Drive, walking to Tudor Elementary School and playing in Wickersham Park, skating along Campbell Creek in the winter and watching the Campbell Creek Classic from my back porch in the summer, the “they” in this line are the willows, the moving water, the nasturtiums in my neighbor’s yard, the collie named “Lady” running up and down the chain-link fence next door, the gooseberry and red currant patch beside the house, every curve of the creek, the black spruce, a winter sun coming up into St. Mary’s Church in the morning, Mount Susitna, Russian Jack Springs, and so much more. They are William Carlos Williams’ “reddish, purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy stuff of bushes.” They are Keats’ autumn sun that would “touch the stubble plain with rosy hue”. All quite romantic, I know, but what do we have, as writers, but the lists and the catalogs of those images that obsess and fascinate us, and the early experiences that taught us everything we know?

The repeated word or words can act like an anchor for the imagination. Repetition, coming back, anaphora, whatever you’d like to call it -- the obsessive quality of this kind of writing is gorgeous to me. And listing is not just for poets -- I am sure many a fiction writer has pushed through a stuck place with a list. Here is a link to some of my own list poems:

RANA DRAYTONII (California Red-Legged Frog)

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving Him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his Way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
                                                -- Christopher Smart (1722-1771), Jubilate Agno

for my hands also held him
for he was dry and tiny at the edge of the pond
            where the mud shone
for the rain arrived with the tides and it filled my dreams
            and in my dreams we gazed into our own skulls
for the poem rose up the tree trunk
for paint held the dust motes and pigment
            and the young man painted an owl on the bricks
            and it was good
for there were the torn clouds
            and sea lavender   the purple stems
for behind the white latticework the weeds glowed
            and a light arrived from the coast
            and the hissing was high in the cypress
for he also held me in his hands
for the end of life is nothing
for a fragrant sage blew in from the desert
            and the hummingbird and woodpecker made
                        their sounds in the lane 
for the man on the corner in the twilight 
for the bluish smoke
for he called to my beloved on the other side
            and i nearly sensed her
for the turtle in the ocean filled with eggs
for the burrs and the weeds
for the shape of feathers
            and the ways in which they feel
                        against the skin  
for their fine hooks and barbs
for he dies every day of starvation
            and of thirst and of abandonment
for the ways in which we take our leave are manifold and growing
for the sound of his voice was like nothing
            and was like everything
for the soil held it all rotting
for the flame and the bowl of fresh water
for the music of the pearly throat
            and the pond that finally
                        called us all by name

If you are interested in learning more about this technique or working with Caroline Goodwin, she is teaching a class entitled "List and Litany" in Anchorage on December 12, in Juneau on December 17, and in Sitka on December 19. For more information or to register, please go the 49 Writers website.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kirsten Dixon: A Suspicion of Nutmeg

Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg until it is broken.   ~ M.F.K. Fisher 
When my husband Carl and I left Anchorage to start our lives in the backcountry, I brought along a small box of cookbooks. As Carl worked on the main lodge he was building, and I remained behind in our small cabin, reading books, particularly cookbooks, occupied my day. These books became the authorities on cooking and they were the only voices available to me. Soon, I was writing and sharing my own stories, first in a small bush mailer, then in a regional commuter flight magazine, on to Alaska Magazine, the Anchorage Daily News, and beyond.

And, I cooked, I wrote and read. I read books in French, about early U.S. settlements, I read about a group of starving women interred in a Holocaust camp. They wrote a cookbook together in the night to remember meals they once cooked for families they no longer had. My walls began to fill up with books. I wrote one cookbook and then another. I went from my first stumbling dinner party to owning a cooking school, teaching people how to cook and how to write about the language and culture of food.
“People ask me: Why do you write about food, and eating and drinking? Why don’t you write about the struggle for power and security, and about love, the way others do? The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry.” Opening lines from The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher
 For me, a piece of good food writing is much like any other kind of writing – it is not just about the food. It is about place and time, memories and dreams, home, family, and all those human tensions that weave through our lives. The civilized competes with the wild, the rational with whimsy, constraint with abandon. Food writing can live within any writing; a scene of conflict at the table, a reflective poem of longing, a memoir, or work of nonfiction. Placing moments of food creation, consumption or reflection can offer a particular lens and focus to your writing.

One piece I love to share is MFK Fisher’s short story “Define This Word.” It’s a reflection on an afternoon stop at a restaurant where Fisher was the only diner. She stopped expecting mediocre cuisine but ended up feasting on a multi-course formal luncheon. The only dialogue is with Fisher’s enthusiastic server. It’s too long to include in entirety, but here is a small preview. Fisher has asked what flavor she tasted in the pâté she has just been served:
“Marc, Madame!” And she awarded me the proud look of a teacher whose pupil has showed unexpected intelligence. “Monsieur Paul, after he has taken equal parts of goose breast and the finest pork, and broken a certain number of egg yolks into them, and ground them very, very fine, cooks all with seasoning for some three hours. But,” she pushed her face nearer, and looked with ferocious gloating at the pâté inside me, her eyes like X-rays, “he never stops stirring it! Figure to yourself the work of it— stir, stir, never stopping! “Then he grinds in a suspicion of nutmeg, and then adds, very thoroughly, a glass of marc for each hundred grams of pâté. And is Madame not pleased?” Again I agreed, rather timidly, that Madame was much pleased, that Madame had never, indeed, tasted such an unctuous and exciting pâté.
The essay can be found in a book called The Gastronomical Me which is included in a collection of MFK Fisher books called The Art of Eating by Joan Reardon.

Here are a few other books worth reading that contain good food writing: 
  • Choice Cuts: A Savory Selection of Food Writing from Around the World and Throughout History, Mark Kurlansky
  • Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink, David Remnick
  • Best Food Writing by Holly Hughes  (anthology published annually)
  • American Food Writing: An Anthology with Classic Recipes, Molly O’Neill 
Did you notice the phrase “suspicion of nutmeg” above? There are plenty of correct phrases and slang, format rules for recipes, etc. in food writing. Two good resources to learn more about this are:
  • The Recipe Writer's Handbook, Barbara Gibbs Ostmann
  • Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More, Dianne Jacob
Jacob’s book does a good job of explaining all the opportunities for types of food writing. Both these books recommend writers to craft a personal style sheet. I think that is particularly good advice for any writer.

There’s nothing worse than a writer inserting a stilted, lifeless attempt at food culture into an otherwise decent piece of writing. Read Grubstreet’s online list of words and phrases that should be eliminated from aculinary vocabulary. Some examples are “enrobe” (rather than basting a turkey, it brings to mind Hugh Heffner standing in your kitchen), “addictive” (food is not a drug), and “epic” (Lord of the Rings is epic, dinner is not) as common offenders. You’ll have to take one of our 49 Writers classes on food writing to learn more favorites.

Finally, in a world now awash with blogs and brands, YouTube and Instagram, food writing has become both diminished and enriched by the opportunity of the entire world to participate. My little box of cookbooks that I started with holds less information than I might find in a long day of Internet searching. But, they are still there on my shelf, old dusty friends.  

There’s obviously so much more to say on this subject. I encourage those interested to start or join a food writer’s group in your community. This should involve good food and perhaps some wine (and invite me for a visit).

It’s been a pleasure to write for you this month. Please consider sharing your own voice with us all. Happy Thanksgiving!

 Kirsten Dixon owns two remote wilderness lodges in Alaska. She is the author of The Winterlake Lodge Cookbook: Culinary Adventures in the Wilderness and co-author of the Tutka Bay Lodge Cookbook: Coastal Cuisine from the Wilds of Alaska. She co-owns the La Baleine Café with her daughter Mandy. She likes to know what other people are reading and uses every opportunity to find out. Her email is