Alaska Center for the Book

39th Annual Statewide Creative Writing Contest

Over $800 in Cash Prizes!

The contest began in 1981, the brainchild of newly arrived UAA English professor Ron Spatz. This 2021-2022 contest is the 39th since the beginning. In 2010, the Alaska Center for the Book took on the role of coordinating partner, providing hundreds of volunteer hours to manage entries, recruit and coordinate judges, communicate with winners, and distribute certificates to winners.

More than 400 entries were submitted for the 2020-2021 contest from writers aged 6 to 83 from classrooms and communities across Alaska. All entries must be submitted electronically. Teachers can assist students with posting submissions if needed, though permissions and student contact information must be provided. Published authors, librarians, creative writing instructors serve as volunteer judges for the contest.

The 2021-2022 Statewide Creative Writing Contest will open for entries on Monday, November 12th and close on Tuesday, February 15th.

Fairbanks Arts is excited to announce the 27th Statewide Poetry Contest and invites participation from writers of all ages. As a celebration of literary artistry, this contest aims to encourage, publicize, and reward the writing of high-quality poetry in Alaska. The contest’s divisions include elementary, middle, high school, and adult.

Entries will be accepted through the end of Friday, February 11, 2022. The entry fee is $4 per poem or $13 for four poems for adults and $3 per poem or $10 for four poems for elementary, middle, and high school students, class submissions have a bulk rate of $1 per poem. Winners of the contest will receive cash prizes and an invitation to share their poetry virtually in a reading in April, which is National Poetry Month.

Complete entry guidelines and the online registration form can be found on our website at

What's in a Name?

Honoring National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

Alaska Writer Laureate Heather Lende talks with Thomas Thornton and Ken Grant about original place names in Southeast Alaska. Dr. Thornton is the author of Being and Place Among the Tlingits and editor of Haa Léelk’w Has Aaní Saax’u / Our Grandparents’ Names on the Land. The edited collection is a collaborative project with Native communities of Southeast Alaska to record indigenous geographic names. He is the Director of Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center and Professor of Environment and Society at UAS


Ken Grant, Xunaa Kwáan, Raven moiety, T’akdeintaan (Seagull) clan, Naa sháade háni (moiety leader), Hoona, has advised the American Museum of Natural History on Northwest Coast Native exhibits, worked with the Sealaska Heritage Institute on publications about traditional knowledge, and served as the National Park Service liaison between Glacier Bay  and the village of Hoonah.

Link to the video discussion here.


Contributions to Literacy in Alaska Awarded

Innovation and dedication to literacy and literature mark the four winners of the 2021 Contributions to Literacy in Alaska (CLIA) Awards from the Alaska Center for the Book.

Honorees are Anchorage health communicator Nyabony Gat, Imagination Library volunteer Elisabeth Jacobson of Bethel, Vered Mares of Writer’s Block in Anchorage, and the University of Alaska Press in Fairbanks.

More information about the CLIA 2021 Award winners here..

The CLIA awards are presented annually by Alaska Center for the Book, Alaska’s liaison with the U.S. Library of Congress Center for the Book. Since 1993, the awards have been presented to more than 90 people and institutions making a significant contribution in literacy, the literary arts, or the preservation of the written or spoken word.

The CLIA Award winners will be honored during Alaska Book Week, Oct. 3-9.

Founded in 1991, ACB is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization. It participates in the National Book Festival, Alaska Reads, Alaska Book Week, and other events. For more information, see

Alaska Book Week

Alaska Book Week, traditionally the first full week in October, has passed, BUT, because most events were held virtually or were recorded, you can still access them on the Alaska Book Week website.

Alaska Book Week is a statewide celebration, coordinated by the Alaska Center for the Book, that annually celebrates the multi-faceted ways that we appreciate books, from readings to panels, lectures, discussions, and youth activities. Alaska Book Week takes place around the first week in October.
Visit the website here for more information.

Remembering Frank Soos

Sunday, October 10, 2:00 – 4:00 pm

The members of the Alaska Center for the Book hosted a celebration of the life of our dear friend, mentor, supporter and wonderful human being, Frank Soos.

Link to the recorded Zoom event.

Link to Lila Vogt’s Opening Remarks

Link to Frank Soos Obituary

Readers for Frank Soos Tribute:
Peggy Shumaker & Kes Woodward

Robert Hannon – Audio of Frank (in his own words)
Nancy Lord – Unpleasantries, Kinds of Ambition, Pages 156-187
Tom Kizzia – a selection from Bamboo Fly Rod
Wendy Erd – The Blue Fish
David Stevenson – Saint Sheryl Ann, from Lives of the Saints and a portion of Meditation on My Cousin, Lou, Dead at Thirty-three, from Unpleasantries
Nancy Cook – Upside-Down with Borges and Bob from Unpleasantries 
John Gimbel – More Light (49 Writer’s Blog post) 
David Abrams – Preface to Unpleasantries
Dave Musgrave – A selection from Why Is It That We Do This?from Unpleasantries and Another Kind of Loneliness (2016 Sportliterate)

Frank Soos’ Books:
Unpleasantries: Considerations of Difficult Questions

Bamboo Fly Rod Suite

Unified Field Theory

Double Moon

The Getting Place (Available for preorder-Published January 2022)
Red Hen Press

Winners of 38th Annual Creative Writing Contest Announced

We are pleased to celebrate the winners of the 38th UAA/Anchorage Daily News Creative Writing Contest. For the 2021 contest, more than 400 entries were submitted by writers ranging in age from 6 to 83. The contest is presented by Anchorage Daily News, University of Alaska and Alaska Center for the Book. The Grand Prize First Place was taken by Wayne Lewis of Anchorage for his poem, “Walrus.” Editor’s Choice awards were given to Lauren Nanouk Jones from Mt. Edgecumbe High School, Sitka, for her poem, “I Am From,” and Melanya Berg of Anchorage for her story “Castles and Caskets.”

Full text of the first-place winning entries for this year’s contest and previous contests can be found online at LitSite Alaska, and

Ernestine Hayes named 2021 Distinguished Artist

Author Ernestine Saankaláxt’ Hayes has been named 2021 Distinguished Artist award by the Rasmuson Foundation. According to the Foundation, the award, which includes $40,000, “honors a lifetime of creative excellence and outstanding contribution to the state’s arts and culture.” more information…

Heather Lende named Alaska Writer Laureate

Heather Lende has been named the Alaska State Writer Laureate for the 2021 – 2023 term.

Heather Lende’s many essays and stories, about life in Haines, Alaska have been published widely, including in the Christian Science Monitor, Anchorage Daily News, on National Public Radio.  She has written popular memoirs, Find the GoodIf You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name, and Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs. Find more information here and here.

Anchorage Public Library Launches Alaska Reads 2021

“Anchorage Reads” is a community led program to promote reading, literacy and community-building by inspiring people of different ages and backgrounds to talk about the same book. Groups and individuals are encouraged to participate by reading the book, attending events or organizing their own.
This year the program has selected Stamped from the Beginning: A Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. The Anchorage Public Library works to ensure that all people in Anchorage have free and equal access to information, and this goal cannot be achieved without addressing racial and social inequity. By choosing Stamped and Stamped from the Beginning, Anchorage Reads and the Anchorage Public Library seek to build a community where we can learn from each other and work together to create a better future for everyone. 
For a complete list of “Anchorage Reads” events, suggested supplemental reading and film lists, a reader’s guide, and much more, visit the Anchorage Public Library’s website HERE.

Alaska Artist Wins Caldecott Medal for Children's Book

Michaela Goade won the Randolph Caldecott Medal for her illustrations in “We Are Water Protectors,” a children’s book that takes a stand on environmental issues. She is a member of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and is the first indigenous artist to win this award. The book was written by Carole Lindstrom. 

The American Library Association, which gives this award, also announced other winners in children’s media, including the John Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Award, the Michael L. Printz Award and others.
More information…

American Indian Library Association Read Native Initiative

The AILA is sponsoring a reading challenge for 2021. They are bringing together these reading prompts to help expand the reading of Native authors. They plan to hold quarterly webinars/books talks, and hope to be fairly active on social media. 

They have created two challenges, a bingo type reading challenge for kids, and the main reading challenge. They plan to curate booklist suggestions, and update their webpage at least once a week. Click here for a pdf with information resources about the Reading Challenge.
Here are the links to their webpage and their social media pages. If you have questions, or would like to ask for reader advisory suggestions, send them an email. 


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.

Thanks to all who contributed. Your help allows the Alaska Center for the Book to continue its programs, events and unique projects to support and build literacy in Alaska.

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


National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Program  Arts Midwest is now accepting applications for the 2022-2023 National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Program.  What?  The NEA Big Read is a community engagement opportunity with grants of up $20,000 for community-wide reading programs (in-person and/or virtual).  Organizations can choose one of 15 available books—see the attached book descriptions for additional information.  The majority of these selections are new to the NEA Big Read program!  When? The deadline to apply is January 26, 2022.  Where? Learn more about the NEA Big Read application process at this link

Alaskan Arts Collaboration, Time Capsule Project. I’m reaching out on behalf of Perseverance Theatre, a nonprofit professional theatre company operating in both Juneau and Anchorage. My name is Irene Martinko and I’m the Literary & Producing Associate here at Perseverance. I’m excited to share a project that we hope you’ll be interested in. More information here.

North Words Announces 2022 Faculty. Our 2022 North Words faculty is complete! In addition to keynote author Tommy Orange, North Words will welcome these Alaska-NW authors at the 12th North Words Writers Symposium in Skagway on May 25-28, 2022: Heather Lende (current Alaska Writer Laureate), Kim Heacox, Laureli Ivanoff, M Jackson, Hank Lentfer, Tina Ontiveros, and Nicole Stellon-O’Donnell. Registration is now open on our website. We had 15 participants from the cancelled 2021 conference defer to 2022, so we have 25 spots available. We will endeavor to have a safe in-person event.

Seeking Alaska Native Writers Calling all Alaska Native writers, poets, and content creators! We are seeking submissions for stories, poems, photo essays, and other creative works that center what Spring means to you from an Indigenous lens. This is a paid opportunity, and we would like to share your work with our community.If you’re interested, please contact Presley West at Haw’aa!

Hometown Reads is in Anchorage! A website dedicated to locating authors near you, Hometown Reads has a section for Anchorage. Sign up to have your book displayed and join the Facebook page to brainstorm ways to advertise and sell books locally. Check it out at

Youth Poet Laureate. You probably know that there is a United States Poet Laureate, but you may have never having heard of the Youth Poet Laureate. Here is a link to a excellent article from that features a conversation with two Youth Laureates. more…

“Baby Raven” Books Wins AILA Award

Sealaska Heritage Institute’s (SHI) Baby Raven Reads book Raven Makes the Aleutians has won a Picture Book Honor award from the American Indian Library Association (AILA).

The AILA, an affiliate of the American Library Association, announced winners of its biennial Youth Media Awards today in Philadelphia, calling the selected books “the best of the best in children’s and young adult literature.” More…