Introduction: John Straley,
Big City Vignettes: Ed Ronco,
Downtown Ravens: Laura Kaltenstein,
Wild Onions: Melissa Marconi-Wentzel,
The Day You Lerft: Eugene Solovyov,
The Sisterhood: Tele Aadsen,
Photographs: Cedar Marie,
Early Spring: Rebecca Poulson,
Fiddleheads: Kersten Christianson,
Inside my father’s smokehouse: Vivian Faith Prescott,
Sackcloth and Ashes: Howie Martindale,
Wild Onions: Melissa Marconi-Wentzel,
Photographs : JR Ancheta,
A Wedding Poem for Brooke and Paul : Greg Reynolds,
Float House: Tina Johnson,
Springhetti Road: Tina Johnson,
Photographs: JR Ancheta,
Things Found in Bibles: Gerda Wickett,
Feeding Stray Cats in Winter: Gerda Wickett,
Spring Work: Gerda Wickett,

Cover Photograh by JR Ancheta,

“Flying above the Tongass National Forest at night there are few pinpoints of light. There may be the red, green and white lights of a tug and barge lunging down Chatham Strait, and a small cluster of white lights, clinging to the edge of the beach marking Angoon or Tenakee. There are the major clusters of multicolored lights of Ketchikan, Juneau and Sitka, while all the rest—the millions of surrounding acres—lie in the darkness of trees, rock, muskeg and the unseen frigid water.

There are a few lonely outposts that can be seen from the air— a single boat at anchor, or more rarely the tiny blossom of a tent light, in the alpine, or the flicker of a cabin set back in the trees. These are the rare outposts of the iconoclast or the misanthrope, but mostly, island people live in the relatively close-quartered enclaves of their communities. Islanders are a people both lonely and crowded. We long for meaning and intimacy while we work out conflicts within our own small sphere of influence.

The Island Institute and Sitka Writer’s Read have come together in this special issue to publish the work of local Sitka writers, most of whom summoned up their courage to read their own work in the fall and winter of 2012–13. Some were more or less professionals, used to reading in public and to the rigors of sending their work out for publication. Some were more comfortable as letter writers and kitchen table publishers, people whose literary legacy will be treasured by their children and neighbors, and saved in boxes and packets tied in ribbons. All of them have strong voices that represent this island world in authentic and unique ways.

What is this urge for people, both lonely and crowded, to write? We do not write to become famous. Nor do we write to impress others. We do not want to become stars, but are content to stay fixed to this piece of rock on the north Pacific coast. Finally, I think we write to keep our own light burning. Not to be seen from the air, but to be known to ourselves. Each of these writers in this volume does this in their own unique way. We shine each night alone, and in clusters, each one unique and each one owing something to the others for the overall effect of our visibility. We also know from studying the sky that there are so few planes passing through the night that we do our work largely for each other, and for this we are grateful for our happy/lonely/crowded/island circumstance. We write to share the story of our existence and to keep ourselves warm in the presence of it. This volume—put together by our good neighbors Carolyn and Dorik; Brooke Schafer, who created the Sitka Writer’s Read series; and Ashia Lane—gives tangible proof to that effort, other than our own satisfaction in the doing and sharing of it last winter. And for that too, I’m certain all the writers are grateful for the little light this publication brings to the world.” — John Straley