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.

Uniting Authors and Audiences

It’s the End of the World as We Know It
with Ben Percy and Don Rearden

Thursday, April 7 at 7pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage

Award-winning novelists Ben Percy and Don Rearden will discuss writing fiction that tackles big subjects without sacrificing high tension and compelling stories. Both Percy and Rearden have written post-apocalyptic novels that speak to the underpinnings of culture and humanity. They will discuss the notion that literary and genre fiction are somehow mutually exclusive, as well as read from their work.

Bucking Tradition: Other Routes to Publishing Success
with Martha Amore, Peter Dunlap-Shol, and Tracy Sinclare, moderated by Liz Meredith

Thursday, March 24 at 7pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage

The publishing industry is in a constant state of change. It is increasingly difficult to find success at the big New York publishing houses, but other routes to publishing success exist. What factors do writers consider when they seek to see their work in print? Exactly what are the differences between traditional publishing, publishing with a university press, a small press, and self-publishing?
Join Martha Amore, Peter Dunlap-Shohl, and Tracy Sinclare as they discuss their experiences bringing books to print. This panel will be moderated by Lizbeth Meredith.

Who Owns The Story?
with Benjamin Busch, Eliot Ackerman, Lea Carpenter and Sherry Simpson, moderated by Matt Komatsu

Friday, February 5 at 7pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage

From the National Book Award-winning short story collection Redeployment by Marine Corps veteran Phil Klay, to acclaimed novels written by civilians like Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk; writers are tackling the difficult topic of war and doing it well. But does war as a topic of literature “belong” to veterans any more than it does non-veterans? Is there room for depictions outside of combat? What defines “the experience?”

Join us, to hear and be heard, for a discussion with Sherry Simpson (The Dominion of Bears), Benjamin Busch (Dust to Dust), Elliot Ackerman (Green on Blue) and Lea Carpenter (Eleven Days). These four distinguished authors from both military and civilian backgrounds will share thoughts and answer questions in a Crosscurrents event that will kick off “Danger Close: Alaska,” the state’s first writing workshop aimed at uniting veteran and civilian writers in the production of high-quality literature.


The Engaged Muse: Politics, Poetry and Narrative
with Ann Eriksson, Gary Geddes and Jeremy Pataky

Tuesday, September 8, 2015 7-8:30pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage

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,’ here 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. Ann Eriksson and Gary Geddes are both known for their challenging writing, Ann taking on polluters and the boom-and-bust psychology that depletes and fouls the oceans and clear-cuts the forests, Gary going after the killers at Kent State University, racist and colonial practices in Canada and abroad, and the rise of militarism disguised as peace-keeping.

The Future of Fiction
with Frank Soos, Justin Herrmann, Eowyn Ivey, and Deb Vanasse

Sunday, October 4, 2015 7-8:30pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage

These are the opening words of a review by Tom Perrotta in the 5/10/15 NY Times Book Review:

In recent years a number of talented novelists have experienced a sudden and alarming loss of faith in their chosen literary form. David Shields thinks most novels are boring and disconnected from reality. Nicole Krauss is “sick of plot and characters and scenes and climax and resolution.” Rachel Cusk has decided that conventional fiction is “fake and embarrassing.” Karl Ove Knausgaard goes even further, dismissing the entire enterprise: “Fictional writing has no value.”

I think most of us who write fiction would have something to say about these ideas. What, for example, is the value of fiction, have the conventions of fiction worn themselves out? Is nonfiction simply more honest and accurate and a better form for this time?


Thursday, July 23, 2015, 7-8:30 pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage

To commemorate the historic rise of Anchorage from the first sale of town lots in 1915 to Alaska’s largest city in 2015, 49 Writers/49 Alaska Writing Center ​has ​published a memoir anthology—Anchorage Remembers—that celebrates the history of Anchorage in the words of those who have lived it.

We’ll celebrate the book launch with readings by a selection of anthology authors​ who ​reflect on what makes Anchorage such a special place. ​Books will be available for purchase.​

This project is made possible by a Centennial Community Grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Rasmuson Foundation, and the Anchorage Centennial Celebration.
Presentation: How Poets and Essayists Appear on the Page and Who They Really Are
Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 7-8:30 pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street (W. 7th Ave. entrance), Anchorage

A wide ranging discussion about how writers present themselves on the page in poetry and essay, as opposed to the people they may be in the rest of their lives.

Alaska Writer Laureate Frank Soos taught in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks for 18 years. He is the author of two collections of short fiction and one collection of essays (Bamboo Fly Rod Suite). He is currently selecting from his essays published over the last 25 years for a new collection.

Eva Saulitis is the author of three books of poetry and prose, the most recent being Into Great Silence: A Memoir of Discovery and Loss in the Realm of Vanishing Orcas. She has taught creative writing at the Kachemak Bay Campus of UAA for 13 years, and is on the faculty of the UAA Low-Residency MFA Program. She lives in Homer. For the past 24 years, she has studied orcas in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Susanna J. Mishler’s collection of poems, Termination Dust, was published by Boreal Books/Red Hen Press. Her poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Hotel Amerika, The Iowa Review, Kenyon Review Online, Michigan Quarterly Review, RATTLE, and elsewhere. She received an MFA in Poetry from the University of Arizona in Tucson where she also served as a poetry editor of Sonora Review. She lives in Anchorage.

Fact or Fiction: Common Challenges in Finding and Creating Narrative
Thursday, February 5, 2015, 7-8:30pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center (W. 7th Avenue entrance)

David Stevenson is the long-time book review editor of The American Alpine Journal. His collection of fiction, Letters from Chamonix, won the Banff Mountain Book Award for Fiction and Poetry in 2014. He directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Andy Hall (Denali’s Howl) joins David Stevenson (Letters from Chamonix) for an onstage conversation about the their processes of creating an engaging narrative in prose. What are the unique affordances and challenges of each genre, and where can writers learn from the strategies employed in other genres?


Would the Real Alaska Please Stand Up?
Monday, October 6, 2014, 7-8:30pm
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center (W. 7th Avenue entrance)

What is the “real” Alaska? In what ways does our literature define and refine the idea of Alaska in popular culture? Are there ways to confront issues of inclusiveness and diversity in Alaska books and other media?

Universal Border: From Tijuana to the World
Monday, April 7, 2014
Wilda Marston Theatre, Z.J. Loussac Library

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.”

Essaying Alaska: Beyond Images of the Last Frontier
March 12, 2014
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center

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.

Writing the Whole Environment
February 4, 2014
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center

Poets Camille Dungy and Sean Hill discuss what it means to them to write about family, history, community, and the natural world.

On the Edge of Publishing: a conversation with the three authors of Weathered Edge
November 14, 2013
Anchorage Museum at Ramsuson Center

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.

Surviving the Story
September 4, 2013
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center

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.

The Short Story: Alive and Well?
April 5, 2013
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center

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.

An Evening with Alaska’s New Writer Laureate
February 19, 2013
Wilda Marston Theatre, Z.J. Loussac Library
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.

Fictionalizing Our Lives
September 6, 2012
Wilda Marston Theatre, Z.J. Loussac Library

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?

Literature in an Age of Moral Depravity
April 7, 2012
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center Auditorium

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.

Fantastic, Historic, Unconventional: Crossing Literary Fiction Boundaries
February 22, 2012
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center Auditorium

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.”

Fictional Truth
October 14, 2011
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center Auditorium

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.

Writing Memoir: Exposure and Betrayal
August 31, 2011
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center Auditorium

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.

To Tell the Truth: Writing People and Place
April 1, 2011
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center Auditorium

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.

Environmental Writing and Activism
January 25, 2011
Out North Contemporary Art House

Join Alaska writers Nancy Lord, Marybeth Holleman, and moderator Charles Wohlforth as they discuss environmental writing, writing as a form of activism, and their experiences as writers concerned with global oil-reliance and climate change. Event is free to members, $5 suggested donation for others. This event is co-sponsored by Cook Inletkeeper, the Alaska Center for the Environment, and Prince William Sound Science Center, with books for purchase at the event provided by the UAA Bookstore.