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...


Photo by Stauss Peyton Studios

The Alaska State Council on the Arts has invited all interested persons to join Jane Chu, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, for a Town Hall discussion and community reception with light refreshments and lively conversation about the arts in our country and in our state. The event takes place at 5:00 pm on Friday, August 28 at the Anchorage Museum.

Appointed by President Obama, Jane Chu is the eleventh chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. With a background in arts administration and philanthropy, Chairman Chu is also an accomplished artist and musician. She leads a dedicated and passionate group of people to support and fund the arts and creative activities in communities across the nation.

RSVP here.




Juneau Mayor's Awards for the Arts

Juneau Arts & Humanities Council announced the selection of the recipients for the Eighth Annual Mayor's Awards for the Arts, to be presented at the JAHC Season '42 Kick-off party on Friday, August 21, at 5:30 - 7 pm at the JACC.
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.


Alaska Book Week 2015

We invite you to join writers, libraries, booksellers, publishers, and schools in celebrating Alaska Book Week, which will take place October 3-10, 2015.  Planned activities include special book displays, author visits to classrooms and writers groups, author events and panels, book club activities, and more.  Communities throughout the state are encouraged to come up with their own events, which we will publicize on this website and Facebook.

To make this week a success, we need your involvement! Visit the Alaska Book Week website and click the sidebar logo to complete the Alaska Book Week participation form, and we will follow up with you. If you have any questions or additional ideas, please contact the ABW coordinator at We look forward to hearing from you!.




Governor's Awards for the Arts & Humanities

The Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Alaska Humanities Forum have announced that nominations are open for the 2016 Governor's Awards for the Arts and Humanities. They are asking for nominations for noteworthy Alaskans who have dedicated their lives to improving our great state through the arts and culture.
The application deadline is Tuesday, September 15, 2015. All nominations must be submitted online here.

To submit a nomination, you will need the name and contact information for your nominee and yourself, a nominating statement in support of your nominee, the nominee's bio/CV/resume, and 2-5 letters of support written by someone other than yourself.
The Governor's Awards for the Arts categories for 2016 are: Arts Advocacy, Individual Artist, Business Leadership and the Margaret Nick Cooke Award for Native Arts and Languages. A list of previous awardees can be found here.
The Governor's Awards for the Arts and Humanities will be held at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center on Thursday, January 28, 2016.

Winning Poems Chosen for Alaska State Parks

The Poems in Place steering committee recently selected four winning entries from poems written by Alaskans. On behalf of Alaska Center for the Book, Poems in Place would like to thank the many people across the state that submitted /and or nominated poems for this year’s parks.

Leslie Leyland Field’s poem, “Tideline” and Fred Stager’s poem, “The Compass Rose”, will be placed in Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park in Kodiak. Aleria Jensen’s poem, “A Soldier’s Station”, and Justine Pechuzal’s poem, “Pilgrims”, will be installed at Caines Head State Recreational Area, Seward. Local creative writing workshops will accompany dedications to be held in Kodiak and Seward this fall. For dates and details please stay tuned to this web site.

 Come September Alaska will have a poem or two in each of the state park’s seven regions. We are grateful to all who have made this vision possible: our funders, our volunteers and the many residents who expressed their connection through poetry to the landscapes of Alaska.

 The Poems in Place project is supported by the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Usibelli Foundation, the Alaska Poetry League, Alaska Center for the Book, and numerous generous individuals.         

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..

2015 Alaska Literary Awards Application Open

The Alaska Literary Awards recognize and support writers of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting, screenwriting, and mixed genres.  Any Alaska writer over the age of 18 who is not a full-time student is eligible to apply. Quality of the work submitted is the primary consideration in determining who receives the awards. There are no restrictions on the writer’s use of the award and no formal report is required.

A select number of $5,000 fellowships for Alaska literary artists will be awarded each fall. In 2014, five writers were recognized for their outstanding work and received the Alaska Literary Award.

The Alaska Literary Awards were established in 2014 by the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation, through a generous gift from Peggy Shumaker and Joe Usibelli.

The Application Deadline is Monday, August 31, 2015 at 9:59 p.m. AKDT. more…

2015 Connie Boochever Fellowships Application Open

The Connie Boochever Artist Fellowship awards recognize and support Alaska emerging artists of exceptional talent. Fellowships are awarded by the Connie Boochever Endowment through the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation. The program is administered by the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

The purpose of the Connie Boochever Artist Fellowship is to recognize and support Alaska emerging artists of exceptional talent. A select number of $2,500 fellowships are awarded biennially with specific disciplines funded in alternating years. Uses of the fellowship funds are very broad. However, funds must be spent on activities related to the fellow’s creative career.

Participation is limited to emerging artists living in Alaska and pursuing an art form on an ongoing basis.

The application deadline is August 31, 2015, 9:59 PM AKST. 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...

Creative Writing Contest

Winners were announced in the 33rd annual UAA/Alaska Dispatch News Creative Writing Contest. Cass Crandall of Homer was named the Grand Prize Winner and placed first in the Nonfiction Open to the Public category. Almost 600 entries were submitted. The winners can be read online here.


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.

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



National Book Festival

The Library of Congress National Book Festival is an annual literary event that brings together best-selling authors and thousands of book fans for author talks, panel discussions, book signings and other activities. Each year the Library of Congress Center for the Book funds two representatives from the Alaska Center for the Book for travel and housing expenses to attend the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. The Alaska representatives staff a table in the Pavilion of States, which contains a table from every and state affiliate, where they pass out information about Alaska Center for the Book programs and also, about Alaska in general. Usually more than 100,000 people attend the Festival.

Over its 15-year history, the National Book Festival has become one of the pre-eminent literary events in the United States. The first festival was Sept. 8, 2001. Mrs. Bush served as honorary chair of the festival through 2008. President and Mrs. Obama have served as honorary co-chairs from 2009 to the present. more…



Booker Prize Announces 2015 Longlist

The longlist, or ‘Man Booker Dozen’, for the £50,000 Man Booker Prize recently announced this year’s longlist of 13 books. The nominees were selected by a panel of five judges chaired by Michael Wood, and also comprising Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, John Burnside, Sam Leith and Frances Osborne. The judges considered 156 books for this year’s prize.

This is the second year that the prize, first awarded in 1969, has been open to writers of any nationality, writing originally in English and published in the UK.  Previously, the prize was open only to authors from the UK & Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe. more…




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…


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…


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...

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.


Fireside Books receives Patterson grant

Palmer bookstore owner David Cheezem announced that his store, Fireside Books, has received a $7,500 grant from best-selling author James Patterson. Cheezem said the grant will be used to promote Alaska authors. In 2014 Patterson gave away over a million dollars to independent bookstores. According to his website, in 2015 James Patterson has pledged to continue to support independent bookstores in innovative ways and will champion a new initiative centered on getting our kids reading and supporting school libraries.



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.

Letters About Literature 2015

Students in grades 4 through 12 are invited to enter Letters About Literature, a national writing contest sponsored by Alaska Center for the Book and the Center of the Book in the Library of Congress. Information about the 2015 Letters About Literature contest is available here: LAL Guidelines and also on the Library of Congress Center for the Book site.



The deadline for the 2015 contest was December 15, 2014 for grades 9-12 and the deadline for grades 4-8 was January 15, 2015.


Poems in Place Dedications and Celebrations

Dedications and celebrations were recently held at the installations of two new Poems in Place. Poems in Place were recently installed at the Lake Aleknagik State Recreation Site/Wood-Tikchik State Park near Dillingham and at Independence Mine State Historical Park at Hatcher Pass.



 For more information visit our Poems in Place web page.

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





The Alaska Center for the Book is included in the Permanent Fund Dividend’s Pick.Click.Give. charitable contributions program.
It’s a secure and easy way to make a donation to an organization that stimulates public interest in literacy through the spoken and written word.

When you file for your PFD online, you will be given a
chance to donate money from your PFD. When you do, please remember The Alaska Center for the Book.

Just check the box that authorizes the State to send your name, contact information and the amount you give when it sends contributions to an organization so we can recognize your support.

For more information click here:  Pick. Click. Give.

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Next Alaska Center for the Book Board Meeting

September. Time and place to be announced. contact us for more information.

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