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 to the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage Public Library, the Copper Whale Inn, and KSKA radio for their helping in funding and promoting this series.
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. Luckily, an essay is a complex, diverse form and Alaskan author Sherry Simpson (Dominion of Bears) wields it for all its power. Join this accomplished essayist in conversation with Christine Byl (Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods) 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. A question-and-answer session and book signing will follow. Admission free, donations welcome.
Sherry Simpson is the author of Dominion of Bears: Living with Wildlife in Alaska and two collections of essays, The Accidental Explorer: Wayfinding in Alaska and The Way Winter Comes. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, magazines, and anthologies. She teaches creative writing in the MFA programs at the University of Alaska Anchorage and at Pacific Lutheran University.
Christine Byl is the author of Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods. Byl received her MFA in fiction from the University of Alaska-Anchorage; her prose has appeared in Glimmer Train, The Sun, and Crazyhorse, among other journals. Byl has also received support from Alaska State Council on the Arts, Rasmuson Foundation, Breadloaf, and Fishtrap. She lives with her husband and an old sled dog outside of Denali National Park north of Healy, Alaska, where she owns and operates a small trail design and construction company. A question-and-answer session and book signing will follow. Admission free.
Brought to you in partnership with the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center and Anchorage Museum Gift Shop.
Join 49 Writers for a cross-cultural conversation with Luis Alberto Urrea, moderated by local author Bryan Allen Fierro. Q&A session and book signing will follow. Admission free.. A question-and-answer session and book signing will follow. Admission free, donations welcome.
The author of 14 books, Luis Alberto Urrea (Into the Beautiful North) has published extensively in many genres and received a variety of awards. Born in Tijuana, Mexico, to a Mexican father and an American mother, he grew up in San Diego, California. "The border" has defined his life and colored much of his writing. He once said "the border is simply a metaphor 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." Luis is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Bryan Allen Fierro graduated from Pacific University in Oregon with his MFA in Fiction. Dodger Blue Will Fill Your Soul is a collection of short stories that captures the heart of the East Los Angeles community. He is at work on his first novel, Shangri-LA. His stories have earned him The 2013 Poets and Writers Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award in Fiction and second place in the 2013 Lorian Hemingway Fiction Contest. He splits his time between LA and Anchorage, where he serves as a firefighter/paramedic with the Anchorage Fire Department.
This event is made possible with support from Anchorage Public Libraries, the Anchorage Library Foundation, and the Friends of the Library.
PAST CROSSCURRENTS EVENTS
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 Alaska Center for the Book