Because books aren’t just for reading, the Crosscurrents onstage conversations unite authors and audiences through lively, moderated discussions on questions pertaining to art, culture, and science as illuminated by writers and their work. Our thanks go to the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage Public Library, and the Copper Whale Inn, whose support makes this series possible.
Join authors Deb Vanasse, Seth Kantner, Peggy Shumaker, Joan Kane, and illustrator Beth Hill in celebrating Alaska Book Week with an on-stage discussion of the myths and realities of Alaska. A question-and-answer session and book signing will follow. Admission free, donations gratefully accepted!
Founder of Running Fox Books and co-founder of 49 Writers, Deb Vanasse has authored twelve books. Her latest is Cold Spell, a novel about a woman who’s obsessed with a glacier. Deb is currently working on a narrative nonfiction book called Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Last Great Race for Gold. She lives and works on Hiland Mountain outside of Anchorage, and at a cabin near the Matanuska Glacier.
Peggy Shumaker has been chosen as the Rasmuson Foundation's Distinguished Artist for 2014. She has also been selected as the Artsmith Artist of the Year for 2014. She is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Toucan Nest, Poems of Costa Rica. Her lyrical memoir is Just Breathe Normally. Professor emerita from University of Alaska Fairbanks, Shumaker teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop. She is founding editor of Boreal Books, publisher of fine art and literature from Alaska. She edits the Alaska Literary Series at University of Alaska Press. Peggy Shumaker was Alaska State Writer Laureate for 2010-2012.
Seth Kantner is a commercial fisherman, wildlife photographer and author of Shopping for Porcupine and the national bestselling novel, Ordinary Wolves. His forthcoming children's book, Pup and Pokey, will be released in fall 2014. Kantner was born and raised in northern Alaska, schooled at home and living off the land, and later attended the University of Montana and received a BA in journalism. His writings and photographs have appeared in the New York Times, Outside, Alaska, Reader's Digest and other magazines and anthologies. He’s a columnist for the Anchorage Daily News, the Arctic Sounder, and Bristol Bay Times. He lives with his wife and daughter in northwest Alaska.
Joan Naviyuk Kane is Inupiaq with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo, Alaska. She received a 2009 Whiting Writers’ Award for her first poetry collection, The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife. Her second book, Hyperboreal, was chosen as the winner of the 2012 AWP Donald Hall Prize in Poetry. She has received several fellowships and awards, including a Literature Fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (2012) and a Creative Vision Award from United States Artists (2013). She was the Indigenous Writer-in-Residence at the School for Advanced Research in 2014 and is faculty in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the Institute for American Indian Arts. A graduate of Harvard College and Columbia University's School of the Arts, she lives in Anchorage, Alaska, with her husband and sons.
Beth Hill grew up on the banks of the Kuskokwim river. Her art is inspired by the Alaskan wilderness that surrounds her. She is the illustrator of the children's book Pup and Pokey (author Seth Kantner). Beth is an artist, commercial fisherman and teacher. She lives in the village of Kokhanok located on Lake Iliamna.
PAST CROSSCURRENTS EVENTS
Luis Urrea talks about how "the border" has defined his life and colored much of his writing. He once said "the border is simply a metapor that makes it easier for me to write about the things that separate people all over the world, even when they think there is no fence."
SHERRY SIMPSON and CHRISTINE BYL
Alaska is a complex state whose people and landscapes are rife with nuance. But writing about Alaska is full of potential pitfalls; we've all read the cliches, the simplifications, the overused tropes. Join accomplished essayist Sherry Simpson in conversation with Christine Byl as they discuss what's beyond the known perimeter of our initial hunches about place, wildness, animals, and how we make our selves on the page and in the world.
CAMILLE T. DUNGY and SEAN HILL
Poets Camille Dungy and Sean Hill discuss what it means to them to write about family, history, community, and the natural world.
MARTHA AMORE, KRIS FARMEN, and BUFFY McKAY
Alaskan writers Martha Amore, Kris Farmen, and Buffy McKay come together to talk about how they worked as a team to create the novella collection Weathered Edge, each contributing a distinct voice and unique perspective to the creative process. Vered Mares will moderate the discussion of what worked and what didn't, and why.
RON CARLSON and DON REARDEN
Where do stories come from? How does a writer find and survive a story? Join acclaimed novelist and short story writer Ron Carlson (Return to Oakpine, the Signal) and Alaska author Don Rearden (The Raven's Gift) for a stimulating onstage conversation about the process of discovery in writing fiction.
NANCY ZAFRIS and FRANK SOOS
To what can we attribute the resurgence of interest in the short story, for so long considered to be a "minor form?" Is this a fleeting trend or a real sea change on the literary scene? In this, the 30th Anniversary year of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, we bring together Nancy Zafris, series editor of the Award and a 1990 winner, and 1998 Award Winner Frank Soos to discuss how the short story is faring in our hyper-connected world.
NORA MARKS DAUENHAUER and DIANE BENSON
Alaska's new Writer Laureate, Nora Marks Dauenhauer, joins writer and dramatist Diane Benson for an on-stage conversation that ranges from writing across genres, to Alaska Native women writers, to preserving the oral tradition.
PAM HOUSTON and HEATHER LENDE
It's a 49 Writers tradition that our visiting Tutka Bay Writers Retreat leader also participates in a Crosscurrents event beforehand. This year we are partnering with the Anchorage Public Library and Friends of the Library to bring you an onstage conversation between retreat leader Pam Houston and Alaska writer Heather Lende. When the constraints of nonfiction hamper a good story from our lives, fiction provides a liberating alternative that allows the writer to dramatize and embellish experiences and landscapes, and to protect the identities of characters. But can this approach confuse our contract with the reader, especially when we also write memoir?
STEVE ALMOND and DAVID STEVENSON
Do writers living in an era of cruelty come to their work with a deeper duty? If so, what is the nature of that duty? How should writers engage in the moral struggles of our historical moment, and what risks does such an engagement engender? Join nationally acclaimed author Steve Almond in conversation with local writer David Stevenson, director of UAA's Creative Writing & Literary Arts program, in this 49 Writers Crosscurrents event.
EOWYN IVEY AND ANDROMEDA ROMANO-LAX
Debut author Eowyn Ivey (The Snow Child) joins Andromeda Romano-Lax (The Spanish Bow, The Detour) for an onstage conversation about their internationally published novels and their approach to fiction as Alaskan writers. What draw one author to set her fiction in Alaska, while another chooses historic Europe as her backdrop? Which comes first - story or genre, setting or character? How can an imaginary story set decades ago hold up a mirror to the present? Where do fact and fiction meet, and what role does research play? Romano-Lax's novels have been described as "evocative and lyrical," "vivid and heartbreaking," while Ivey's The Snow Child has been dubbed "an enchanting, transporting tale" and "a remarkable accomplishment."
MELINDA MOUSTAKIS AND FRANK SOOS
In what ways is fiction both timeless and changing? In the age of information, do stories still matter? To what extent is Alaskafiction coming into its own? As part of AlaskaBook Week (Oct. 8-15), join Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction winners Melinda Moustakis (Bear Down Bear North) and Frank Soos (Unified Field Theory, Early Yet) for an onstage conversation about the status and future of fiction both in Alaska and beyond.
Best-selling author Dani Shapiro (Devotion, Black and White, Slow Motion) joins Sherry Simpson (The Accidental Explorer, The Way Winter Comes) for an onstage conversation about the truths and misconceptions that surround memoir writing. Can a rich, dramatic story be paralyzing in its telling? If the writer leaves something out, is she being evasive? What is the writer’s responsibility in truth and fact versus memory?Simpson will moderate this lively discussion with reference to Shapiro’s work, including her recent memoir Devotion, a national bestseller and Today Show “Best Winter Book,” described by Publisher’s Weekly as “absorbing, intimate, direct and profound.” Co-sponsored by the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Bookstore and the Copper Whale Inn.
Nationally-acclaimed author and frequent New Yorker contributor Susan Orlean joined Alaska journalist Julia O’Malley for an onstage conversation about people, place, and truth in writing. How does one capture the extraordinary within the ordinary? Which places make the best stories? In what sense are all stories journeys? O’Malley moderated this lively discussion with reference to Orlean’s books The Orchid Thief, The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup, and My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere. A question and answer session and book-signing followed. Co-sponsored by the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Bookstore, the Alaska Travel Industry Association, and the Copper Whale Inn.
Thank you to the Anchorage Museum