UAA/Alaska Dispatch News Creative Writing Contest

Since 1981 writers of every age from every part of Alaska have participated in the annual UAA/Alaska Dispatch Creative Writing Contest. For several past winners, this contest was the first public recognition of their work and helped launch successful writing careers. Contest deadline is 5:30 p.m., February 12, 2016. more information…



Alaska Reads Selection Announced

During the Read Local Celebration at the conclusion of Alaska Book Week, Alaska State Writer Frank Soos announced the book selected for a new statewide reading program, Alaska Reads. The book, we hope you all will be reading over the next couple of months is Blonde Indian. Author Ernestine Hayes joined our video conference from Juneau and read us a selection from her remarkable book. She will travel across Alaska to participate in discussions throughout the month of February. Add Blonde Indian to to your "to read" list and be ready to join in this statewide book club read. Watch for details on her schedule!




Letters About Literature 2015 Contest Rules and Guidelines

Letters About Literature is a reading and writing contest for students in grades 4-12. Students are asked to read a book, poem or speech and write to that author (living or dead) about how the book affected them personally. Letters are judged on state and national levels. Tens of thousands of students from across the country enter Letters About Literature each year. If you are in grades 4-12, you are eligible to enter the Letters About Literature reading and writing contest. Here are the Rules and Guidelines. Here is a Teaching Guide. The Letters About Literature Teaching Guide provides activities teachers can use to guide their students through the book discussion and letter-writing process. The guide addresses the LAL teaching strategies and ways in which the program can dovetail with national standards for teaching reading and writing as well as Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Also included are worksheets for duplication and assessment checklists.

Alaska Letters About Literature Winning Letters Archive



Arts Council Announces Literary Awards

The Alaska State Council on the Arts recently announced the artist recipients of the 2015 Alaska Literary Awards, which are provided by the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation in partnership with ASCA.

The Alaska Literary Awardees are:

  • Christine Byl, fiction, Healy
  • Alyse Knorr, poetry, Anchorage
  • Kyle Mellen, fiction, Fairbanks
  • Jill Osier, poetry, Fairbanks

The Alaska Literary Awards recognize and support writers of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting, screenwriting, and mixed genres. Quality of the work submitted is the primary consideration in determining who receives the awards. The annual Alaska Literary Awards are made possible by Peggy Shumaker and Joe Usibelli through their generous endowment of this program.






Alaska Book Week 2015

Alaska writers, libraries, booksellers, publishers, and schools joined in celebrating Alaska Book WeekOctober 3-10, 2015.  Activities included special book displays, author visits to classrooms and writers groups, author events and panels, book club activities, and more.  Communities throughout the state were encouraged to come up with their own events, which were publicized on the Alaska Book Week website and Facebook. Most of the area's bookstores hosted events throughout the week. View the Governor's Alaska Book Week proclamation here…

 Read Local: A Celebration, sponsored by the Alaska Center for the Book, took place Saturday, October 10, at the UAA/APU Consortium Library, Room 307. This event included a three-way video hookup between gatherings in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau and featured the announcement, by State Writer Laureate Frank Soos,of the first statewide Alaska Reads book, Blonde Indian, by Ernestine Hayes. The event  honored winners of recent statewide writing contests and a reading by some of them, and also included a reading by poet Joan Kane and a silent auction benefiting the Alaska Center for the Book. The auction raised more than $1,000. The Center would like to thank the many contributors to the ACB auction.

2016 Statewide Arts and Culture Conference

Save the date for the Alaska State Council on the Art's biennial arts conference, April 28-30, 2016. They are in the process of exploring themes, topics and national speakers. 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 you'd like to share send them to the Arts Council at

Author of Books for Young Adults and Children to Visit

The Alaska Association of School Librarians (AkLA) has announced its 2015/2016 Spirit of Reading selection, Matt de la Peña, acclaimed author of books for young adults and children. His book The Living is currently a high school Battle of the Books selection.
The author will visit Fairbanks and surrounding regions on March 7-12. He will visit schools, libraries, and youth facilities. Please email the program at if you are interested in an author visit. Schools outside the Fairbanks area will be able to participate through video and teleconferencing and through participation in live radio programs. More information about Mr. de la Peña and his books can be found at




Anna Lance

Anchorage Poet Honored by White House

Anna Lance, age 17 of Anchorage, AK was among five National Student Poets selected from a national pool of more than 20.000 poetry submissions included in the fourth annual class of the National Student Poets Program—the nation's highest honor for youth poets—as announced by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. The teen poets' first reading of their original work was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House as part of an appointment ceremony.

"Today is about celebrating these extraordinary young people, but it's also about bringing the power of poetry to kids across the country," shared Mrs. Obama, Honorary Chairman of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities as she congratulated the 2015 class of National Student Poets. She added, "You are now chosen to go out there and spread the word and to share your gift with as many people as you can. It takes a level of bravery to be that vulnerable . . . and share something so personal and so precious.  But that is also the beauty of poetry—how it helps you take all those complex and confusing thoughts and emotions and put them into words."

For a personal statement from Anna Lance and examples of her poetry click here.

more about the National Student Poets Program…

Contributions to Literacy in Alaska Awards 2015

A long-time southeast Alaska bookseller, a Barrow children’s author, a library program focused on teen readers, and the author of a dictionary on the Inupiat language share the 2015 Contributions to Literacy in Alaska (CLIA) awards.

Honorees include bookseller and historian Dee Longenbaugh of Juneau; Barrow novelist Debby Dahl Edwardson; and educator Edna McLean, of Barrow and Anchorage. The Sue Sherif Literacy Award goes to "Alaska Spirit of Reading", a program for middle school readers which is based in Sitka.

The CLIA Awards were presented Tuesday, July 14 in room 150 of the Arts Building on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. A dessert reception begins at 7:30 p.m., with a brief awards ceremony at 8 p.m. The event was followed by readings from Elizabeth Bradfield and Rich Chiappone as part of the Northern Renaissance Arts and Sciences Reading Series of UAA’s summer low-residency MFA program.

The CLIA awards are presented annually by the Alaska Center for the Book, Alaska’s liaison with the U.S. Library of Congress Center for the Book. The awards go to people and institutions who have made a significant contribution in literacy, the literary arts, or the preservation of the written or spoken word in Alaska. More than 70 people and organizations statewide have been honored over the past 23 years. more...



New Faculty Publications at UAA

The UAA Department of History announced recent publications by its faculty. 

Assistant Professor Ian Hartman’s book In the Shadow of Boone and Crockett: Race, Culture, and the Politics of Representation in the Upland South has just been released by the University of Tennessee Press. The work examines the contested identities of white residents of the Appalachians and how they represent, or fail to represent, an idealized vision of Americanness. He is also undertaking to produce an edited volume on the history of the Cook Inlet Region for the University of Alaska Press.

Assistant Professor Ray Ball’s book Como ser Rey [How to be King, the secret instructions of Charles V.], co-edited with historian Geoffrey Parker, was nominated for the American Historical Association’s J. Franklin Jameson prize for outstanding achievement in the editing of historical primary sources. She has also contracted with LSU Press to publish her book Treating the Public: Theater, Public Health, and Public Opinion in the Early Modern Atlantic World.

Associate Professor Songho Ha’s article “Slavery, Global Capitalism, and Pro-Slavery Globalism,” a historiographical review, appeared in the June 2015 Western History Review, the most prestigious journal of Western history in Korea. The Korean translation of his Rise and Fall of the American System is under consideration by the Korean Ministry of Education and Culture for best translated book.




Juneau Mayor's Awards for the Arts

The recipients for the Eighth Annual Mayor's Awards for the Arts were presented at the JAHC Season '42 Kick-off party on August 21, The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council announced .
The Recipients are:
Artist: Pat Belec, ballroom dancer, singer, and arts educator.
Arts in Education: Heather Ridgway, artist and Juneau School District arts teacher.
Arts Organization: The Juneau Lyric Opera celebrates its 40th anniversary of bringing quality operas, musicals, and vocal performances to Juneau and surrounding communities.
Business Leadership for the Arts: Annie Kaill's celebrates 40 years of being a favorite shop for Juneau locals and visitors alike with their wide selection of Alaskan artwork.
Innovative Application of the Arts: Ron Gile is the founder, creative inspiration and driving force behind the Juneau Photo Group (a free facebook group).
Patron of the Arts: ConocoPhillips Alaska steadfastly supports many of the arts groups in Juneau, providing important operating income to allow the programming each offers to continue.
Lifetime Achievement in the Arts: Linda Rosenthal has had, and continues to have, a strong-and welcome-impact on Juneau.






2015 LOC Literacy Award Winners Announced

Acting Librarian of Congress David S. Mao has announced the recipients of the 2015 Library of Congress Literacy Awards, a program originated and sponsored by philanthropist David M. Rubenstein. The recipients are:

  • David M. Rubenstein Prize ($150,000): First Book

  • The American Prize ($50,000): United Through Reading

  • The International Prize ($50,000): Beanstalk

The Library of Congress Literacy Awards Advisory Board, which comprises a broad range of experts in the field of literacy and reading promotion, provided recommendations to former Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who made the final selections. more…

Librarian of Congress Appoints Juan Felipe Herrera Poet Laureate

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington recently announced the appointment of Juan Felipe Herrera as the Library’s 21st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, for 2015-2016. Herrera will take up his duties in the fall, participating in the Library of Congress National Book Festival on Saturday, September 5 and opening the Library’s annual literary season with a reading of his work at the Coolidge Auditorium on Tuesday, September 15.

"I see in Herrera’s poems the work of an American original—work that takes the sublimity and largesse of "Leaves of Grass" and expands upon it," Billington said. "His poems engage in a serious sense of play—in language and in image—that I feel gives them enduring power. I see how they champion voices, traditions and histories, as well as a cultural perspective, which is a vital part of our larger American identity." more...

Reading Rendezvous 2015

More than 2000 people visited the grounds of the Loussac Library on May 16,  a sunny Saturday afternoon, for the 15th annual Reading Rendezvous. This year's theme was "Every Hero Has a Story." Free activities provided by local organizations, included a fire engine, live music, crafts, games, a juggler, and live animals.

Reading Rendezvous 2015 was presented by Anchorage Public Library, the Alaska Center for the Book and Friends of Pets. Our generous sponsors included Anchorage School District, Bear Tooth, Best Beginnings, Bosco's, Cafe@The Library, Conoco Phillips, Friends of the Library, Green Star Recycling, Sisters in Crime, Target and Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE). More..


Poetry Out Loud Winners Named

Maeva Ordaz from Anchorage's West High School is the national Poetry Out Loud champion.

“Maeva’s dedication to her craft and the recitation of poetry is truly impressive," said Juneau's Ben Brown, chair of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, in a release. "She wonderfully illustrates the power that the arts and arts education can have on Alaskan youth. We are so proud of her incredible accomplishment to win the national finals."

For the final round of the national finals, Ordaz recited “Zacuanpapalotls,” by Brenda Cárdenas. See part of her performance here.

See Ordaz talk about Poetry Out Loud here.

This is the tenth year of Poetry Out Loud, a program developed and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and State Arts Agencies, in partnership with schools, school districts, public libraries, local arts agencies across the United States.
For many years, the Alaska State Council on the Arts has partnered with the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council (JAHC) to produce the Alaska State Poetry Out Loud finals in Juneau.
Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure similar to spelling bee competitions; the first level of competition begins at the classroom level, with winners advancing to school-wide competition, then on to regionals and the state finals. The competition concludes with National Finals, which were held in Washington D.C. on April 28-29, 2015.
The Alaska State Poetry Out Loud Competition is archived by 360 North here


Rasmuson Foundation Announces Awards

The Rasmuson Foundation announced that Anchorage artist Garry Kaulitz has been named the 2015 Distinguished Artist. The award comes with a $40,000 prize.

Kaulitz was a teacher at the University of Alaska from 1993 until his retirement in 2014.

In addition to the Distinguished Artist Award, 10 Fellowship awards were given to Mark Knapp of Fairbanks, a knife maker, writers Dawnell Smith of Anchorage and John Tetpon of Eagle River, performance artist Allison Akootchook Warden of Anchorage, choreographer Stephanie Wonchala of Anchorage, T.J. Young of Hydaburg, a carver, poet Nicole Stellon O’Donnell of Fairbanks, poet Anne Coray of Port Alsworth, poet Vivian Prescott of Sitka, and weaver Kay Parker of Juneau.

The Rasmuson Foundation announced that Anchorage artist Garry Kaulitz has been named the 2015 Distinguished Artist. The award comes with a $40,000 prize.

Kaulitz was a teacher at the University of Alaska from 1993 until his retirement in 2014.

In addition to the Distinguished Artist Award, 10 Fellowship awards were given to Mark Knapp of Fairbanks, a knife maker, writers Dawnell Smith of Anchorage and John Tetpon of Eagle River, performance artist Allison Akootchook Warden of Anchorage, choreographer Stephanie Wonchala of Anchorage, T.J. Young of Hydaburg, a carver, poet Nicole Stellon O’Donnell of Fairbanks, poet Anne Coray of Port Alsworth, poet Vivian Prescott of Sitka, and weaver Kay Parker of Juneau.

Twenty-five Project Grant awards, worth up to $7,500 each were also given. More…

UA Press Permafrost Book Prize

The University of Alaska Press recently released Adam Tavel’s Plash and Levitation—the inaugural selection for the Permafrost Book Prize.

Plash and Levitation delves into the chaotic sublime of fatherhood, the candid revelations of youth and the lingering consequences of history. Adam Tavel’s revealing and imaginative poems are joined by fictional monologues from historical figures and cultural icons, juxtaposing personal history with our shared one. Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman and rock legend Keith Moon are joined by musings from the Redskins logo and the Wolfman. Together they create a lively chorus that clashes and soars. The result is forty-two fascinating pieces that are witty, consistently musical and undeniably powerful.


Svetlana Alexievich Photo: Margarita Kabakova/Ersatz AB

Svetlana Alexievich
Photo: Margarita Kabakova/Ersatz AB

Nobel Prize in Literature for 2015 Awarded

Marlon James-A Brief History of Seven Killings

2015 Man Booker Prize Awarded

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James was named as the winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. A Brief History of Seven Killings is published by Oneworld Publications.

The 44-year-old, now resident in Minneapolis, is the first Jamaican author to win the prize in its 47-year history. 

A Brief History of Seven Killings is a 686-page epic with over 75 characters and voices. Set in Kingston, where James was born, the book is a fictional history of the attempted murder of Bob Marley in 1976. Of the book, the New York Times said: ‘It’s like a Tarantino remake of “The Harder They Come”, but with a soundtrack by Bob Marley and a script by Oliver Stone and William Faulkner...epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex.' more…



National Book Foundation Announces National Book Award Longlist

The National Book Foundation announces the Longlist for the 2015 National Book Award for Fiction. Finalists will be revealed on October 14. The mission of the National Book Foundation and the National Book Awards is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.



National Book Festival

The 15th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival kicked off a day featuring more than 170 authors on 18 stages and program areas, with presentations from Pulitzer Prize-winning authors to teen circus performers, panels on topics like "why literature matters" and children’s story times.

Louise Erdrich received the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. The author of such critically acclaimed novels as "Love Medicine," "The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse," "The Plague of Doves" and her current novel, "The Round House," was presented the prize by Library Chief of Staff Robert Newlen before a capacity crowd in the Fiction Pavilion.

"I’m very surprised and moved that you all could come to this event because there is so much going on here and, thank you," Erdrich told the fiction fans.

Erdrich is the third winner of the award. Previous winners are E.L. Doctorow (2014) and Don DeLillo (2013).

Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera announced his laureateship project, La Casa de Colores (The House of Colors), a collaborative epic poem that invites Americans to contribute verses about different topics monthly online.

"La Casa de Colores will be the voices of everybody," Herrera said. "Our voices are going to dance and sing."

Festival organizers thanked authors and book lovers, many of whom traveled great distances to be here, for contributing to the day as speakers, sponsors, volunteers and fans.





American Book Awards Winners Named

The Before Columbus Foundation announces the Winners of the Thirty-Sixth Annual American Book Awards. The 2015 American Book Award winners will be formally recognized on Sunday, October 25th from 2:00-5:00 p.m. at the SF Jazz Center, San Francisco, CA. This event is open to the public.

The American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions. There are no categories, no nominees, and therefore no losers. The award winners range from well-known and established writers to under-recognized authors and first works. There are no quotas for diversity, the winners list simply reflects it as a natural process. The Before Columbus Foundation views American culture as inclusive and has always considered the term “multicultural” to be not a description of various categories, groups, or “special interests,” but rather as the definition of all of American literature. The Awards are not bestowed by an industry organization, but rather are a writers’ award given by other writers. more…


Sherry Simpson receives Burroughs Medal

Sherry Simpson, Alaska author and associate professor in the UAA Department of Creative Writing and Literary Arts, received this year’s John Burroughs Medal for her book Dominion of Bears: Living with Wildlife in Alaska, a collection of essays on bears–both wild and urban–in the 49th state. The award is conferred annually by the John Burroughs Association (JBA) to the author of a distinguished book of natural history. Past recipients include Rachel Carson, John McPhee, Barry Lopez and Peter Mathiessen. Sherry Simpson was presented with her medal at this year’s annual JBA meeting in early April.



Carnegie Medal Winners Named

Anthony Doerr and Bryan Stevenson, werer recently named as 2015 winners of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. Anthony Doerr won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction for his novel All the Light We Cannot See, published by Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, IncBryan Stevenson won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction for his book, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, published by Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House. more...



SFWA Announces Nebula Awards

The Nebula Awards ® are voted on, and presented by, active members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. Founded as the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1965 by Damon Knight, the organization began with a charter membership of 78 writers; it now has over 1,500 members, among them many of the leading writers of science fiction and fantasy. more...



PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Finalists

Judges have announced this year’s finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

The five finalists, whose work was chosen from 360 novels and story collections by American authors published in 2014, are Song of the Shank by Jeffery Renard Allen (Graywolf); Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement (Hogarth); Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish (Tyrant); Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf); and Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill (Vintage).

The winner, to be announced April 7, will receive $15,000, while the runners-up will receive $5,000. All five finalists will speak at the 35th annual award ceremony at the Folger Library in Washington, D.C., on May 2.  More…


Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Awards Announced

The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association has announced their 2015 Book Awards Shortlist. Committee members considered more than 300 nominated titles published during 2014 for a 2015 award. In early November the Committee chose these fifteen titles, from which the winners will be selected. More…




Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction Awarded to Louise Erdrich

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has announced that Louise Erdrich, author of such critically acclaimed novels as "Love Medicine," "The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse," "The Plague of Doves" and her current novel, "The Round House," will receive the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction during the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival, Sept. 5. more…




Women’s Prize for Fiction

The judges have announced the longlist for the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, which is awarded annually for excellence, originality, and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world. Twenty titles, including five debuts, were selected; see the full list here.

“The Prize’s 20th year is a particularly strong one for women’s fiction,” Chair of Judges Shami Chakrabarti said. “All judges fought hard for their favorites and the result is a 2015 list of 20 to be proud of — with its mix of genres and styles, first-timers and well-known names from around the world. “

The shortlist will be announced mid-April, with the winner to be named June 3.

Caldecott and Newbery Awards for Children's Literature Announced

The Association for Library Service to Children recently announced the winners of the Caldecott and Newbery Awards.

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. 

The 2015 Caldecott Medal was awarded to The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, illustrated and written by Dan Santat and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. There are six Caldecott Honor books named.

The 2015 Newbery Medal was awarded to The Crossover, written by Kwame Alexander and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The Newbery Honor Books are El Deafo, written by Cece Bell, illustrated by Cece Bell and published by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS, and Brown Girl Dreaming, written by Jacqueline Woodson and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA).

For more information visit the Association for Library Service to Children website.

Governor's Award for the Arts

The Alaska Humanities Forum has announced the 2015 Governor's Awards for the Arts and Humanities. The annual awards are presented by the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Alaska Humanities Forum in coordination with the Office of the Governor. The event took place Thursday, January 29, 2015 at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center. Performances by Alaska artists were featured.

A Fairbanks couple earned double honors as University of Alaska Fairbanks Professor Emeritus and former creative writing teacher, Frank Soos was named the new Alaska State Writer Laureate. Sculptor Margo Klass, Soos' wife was the recipient of the 2015 Governor's Award for the Arts.

For more information click here.

NEA Grant Awards Announced

Recipients of  the National Endowment for the Arts grants in the Art Works, Challenge America, and Creative Writing Fellowships: Poetry categories for fall 2014 were recently announced

 Alaska winners of the grants were:
49 Writers, Inc., Anchorage
Alaska Native Heritage Center, Anchorage
Anchorage Museum Association, Anchorage
Fairbanks Concert Association, Fairbanks
Bunnell Street Arts Center, Homer
Juneau Jazz & Classics, Inc., Juneau
Alaska Arts Sountheast, Inc., Sitka
Island Institute, Sitka
Sitka Summer Music Festival, Inc., Sitka
Special congratulations to Sean Hill, Fairbanks, who is the recipient of a $25,000 Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry.
For more information about the grants click here.

Sue Sherif Literacy Award

This year, the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program encouraged us to create a special award for literacy. We've chosen to name that award for someone special--a longtime Alaska Center for the Book board member, herself a former CLIA recipient, who is retiring from the state library system. She has dedicated her career to readers of all ages in all parts of the state. Her passion for libraries, books and readers are an inspiration to many people around Alaska. The first recipients of the Sue Sherif Literacy Award are members of a team that created interactive children's books in Cup'ik. Joseph Gorski is director of technology and federal programs for the Kashunamiut School District in Chevak. Dr. Bob Wicker is director of the Consortium for Digital Learning of the Association of Alaska School Boards. They helped form a team which translated an interactive book series into the Chevak region's language. Finding books that are relevant, accessible and affordable to Alaska Native language speakers has been a longtime goal of the Alaska Center for the Book, and we're delighted that this program is so successful.  




Sue Sherif

Sue Sherif





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