Resident Fellows Alumni
Since the program began in 1990, we have welcomed dozens of writers and other artists to spend a month or two in Sitka. Click on resident names for more information about them, and use the filter on the right to see residents from certain disciplines or programs.
Nina Elder is an artist, adventurer, and arts administrator. She grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico where she cultivated love for the land and curiosity about its use. After earning an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, Nina returned to northern New Mexico where she co-founded an off-the-grid artist residency program called PLAND: Practice Liberating Art through Necessary Dislocation followed by several years as the Residency Program Director at the Santa Fe Art Institute. Nina’s work is exhibited and collected nationally, and has been included in publications such as Art in America, VICE Magazine, and New American Paintings.Nina examines historic land use and its cycles of production, consumption, and waste. Mines, bombing ranges, and junk heaps are source material for her landscape paintings and representational drawings that explore the line between land and landscape, beauty and banality. She has backpacked into mines, travelled to Arctic Cold War military sites, and obtained government clearance to tour the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. She has drawn with radioactive charcoal, ore from mines, and dam silt. Her personal experience of research is reflected through performative, narrative presentations that are equal parts travel log, artist talk, personal story-sharing, and scientific inquiry, as well as a call for greater curiosity and engagement with the world.
Nina is part of the 2017 Tidelines Journey.
"A component of this exploration will focus on the ethics and morals of our role, as travelers, artists, consumers, and citizens, within the cacophony of climate change. With a search for quietude and pristine nature rendered nearly impossible, even in the far flung wildernesses of Alaska, this exploration of noise in the natural environment has vast potential to amplify participants' understanding of the contemporary state of sound and silence."
As metaphorical expressions inspired by nature, Billy Joe Miller's work elicits possibilities of transformation and discovery. His practice often results in structures, shapes, light and sounds that frame and create contemplative, site-responsive spaces. Operating at an architectural scale, his projects are immersive and multi-sensory. He often situates his mixed-media works in publicly accessible locations not typically used for presenting art. By placing his work in and responding to specific environments, he opens up his audience to a vivid consideration of a particular place. Utilizing a variety of organic, geometric, and architectural forms (e.g. ovals, arches, windows, and doorways) to frame space, Miller’s work transcends and transforms it in order to open up new territories and perspectives.
Throughout his early life Miller was influenced by cultural and religious practices. Later he worked as a nursing assistant for people in hospice. Through these experiences, he developed an interest in storytelling, and similar rituals created around mortality. He began to experiment with collaborative dance, performance, and costuming as ways to creatively re-envision spiritual expression.
Considering the present state of trauma to the natural environment and the global political landscape, I am inspired to collaborate with vulnerable communities to make installations, interventions and inclusive art spaces. My work is a byproduct of the relationships formed, be it to a specific community, to a found material, to a place, or opportunity.
I continued working with the International District community with my piece Writha in the show At Home in the World at 516 Arts (a local non-profit art space/venue in Albuquerque). The project explored belonging and place, examining how we relate to each other, ourselves and our countries as globalization forces us to rethink issues of nationality, citizenship and migration. I sat and ate with 7 different families, couples or individuals from my neighborhood, speaking with them about their experiences of home, including immigration and cultural practices. We then collected locally found materials and made artworks inspired by our experiences of home.
Morning Glory by Billy Joe Miller, Nina Dubois, residents of Albuquerque's International District and Artful Life, 2014.
In 2014 I was chosen along with four other local artists to work on a project titled The Stories of Route 66’s International District. For seven months we met weekly, engaging with International District residents and working with them on collaborative projects, creative place making, community development and the transformation of their neighborhood spaces including an art garden a theatrical performance, and a public sculpture. I was asked to lead the sculpture project, Morning Glory. With a lot of help my friend Nina Dubois and I developed and executed a design based on a long process of collaboration with the ensemble that included the ensemble sharing ideas, drawings and dreams for the neighborhood. I’m still in awe of the piece and how it came to be.
Billy Joe is part of the 2017 Tidelines Journey.
Jimmy Riordan splits his time between Alaska and Pennsylvania. Riordan’s practice extends beyond the bounds of any specific field or medium. His projects have involved earth building, augmented reality, letterpress and translation to name a few. All emphasizing research and Riordan's interest in the self-taught and group learning. His work is often participatory and involves collaboration with other artists, craftspeople and social scientists.Riordan prints artist publications under the imprint Rabbit Rabbit Press. His artwork has been shown internationally and the bookwork comprising his Le Roman du Lièvre project can be found in the library collections of the New York MOMA and the Tate Britain.
Since September 2014 Riordan has been touring his translation of Le Roman duLièvre, reading from the text and annotating the story with insights about translation, the letterpress printing of the book and accounts of the project's history, which he is currently exploring through the creation of a multi-volume graphic novel. The readings begin with a casual discussion of letterpress and the sorting of lead type used in the printing process and concludes with the ceremonial melting of this monotype, resulting in a unique form. Many of these readings are accompanied by themed meals.
Jimmy is part of the 2017 Tidelines Journey.
"I have recently been working on a body of art and curatorial projects that deal with the notion of memory as landscape. In my research one of the most influential text thus far has been Marc Augé's "Oblivion". In it he considers the role that forgetting (or not committing to memory in the first place) plays in memory. At one point he compares the way a coastline is determined by both land and water, and how memory is equally what we remember and what we forget. If we are simultaneously living a narrative as we write it, what we chose to include and what we choose to leave out is of the greatest importance."
Wendy Given is an artist living and working in Portland, Oregon. With a production of vivid, uncanny contemporary photography, sculpture, drawing and installation, her practice stems from a profound interest guided by nature, myth and magic. Wendy’s visual craft conveys an intense yearning to honor and utilize our inherent awareness—to regain the unspoken understanding of the fact that we are all, and always will be (as humans), integral to and dependent on the natural world. Wendy studied fine art and was trained in painting, printmaking, photography and sculpture during her BFA undergraduate work at Atlanta College of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her MFA in New Genres from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, California. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented by Whitespace Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia.
Wake by Wendy Given, 2010.
Wake is important to me because it was produced during my first ever artist residency at Caldera in Eastern Oregon. The photograph is of one man, a fellow artist/writer and friend named Jason Porter who was also a resident of Caldera at the same time. He was kind enough to allow me to photograph him in my “Ghillie” hunting gear/costume in the very cold and deep snow of Caldera’s acreage that early February. It was an absolute dreamscape and the completed photograph was exactly what I had initially hoped for!
The origin of the word/name “Ghillie” is what inspired the actual art work for me. I am very interested and inspired by international folklore and myth. "In Scottish folklore the Ghillie Dhu or Gille Dubh was a solitary male faerie. He was kindly and reticent yet sometimes wild in character but had a gentle devotion to children. Dark haired and clothed in leaves and moss, he lived in a birch wood within the Gairloch and Loch a Druing area of the north-west highlands of Scotland.” (quote from Wikipedia).
I view this photograph as a multi-dimensional narrative. I believe it portrays mortality and the cyclical nature of storytelling, it is a scene of nature mourning loss, mourning our neglected kinship with the forest and all of its fantastical creatures—both real and imagined—including the loss of interspecies understanding and general human reverence for nature. I find the “Ghillie” and "Ghillie suit" fascinating because hunters, soldiers and photographers all use them for camouflaging purposes, and the name origin is that of a “wild man” or forest spirit. Wow.
One of the best things about this photograph is that I gained two of the most powerful friendships I have ever known simply by having two perfect strangers see the photograph reproduced in an Otis College of Art and Design monthly alumni magazine. The renowned artists (Gendron Jensen and Christine Taylor Patten based in Vadito, New Mexico) saw my photograph and Gendron was brought to tears and immediately sat down to write me a nine page typewritten letter about the importance of my message and the power my work holds as an invaluable steward and advocate for nature through my work. At the time, I was in a particularly low place professionally and emotionally and Gendron’s letter was an enormous, glorious and meaningful light at the end of my dim tunnel. His kind, sage words propelled my work furiously and positively forward with real purpose. The fact that two people/artists were so inspired and moved by my single image made all of the difference in my practice! Christine, Gendron and I remain good friends today and are all pen pals together. I was also extremely fortunate to be able to visit their home/studios in New Mexico this past Autumn for a day and a night, it was wonderfully intense and like meeting long lost members of my family! Amazing.
Wendy is part of the 2017 Tidelines Journey.
"Resonating in the dark, unstable ground between consciousness and collective memory, my practice investigates the intersection of the natural world, folklore, history, myth and magic. My work possesses a keen sensibility in observing, documenting and seamlessly merging the natural with the otherworldly—or seemingly supernatural. I am deeply invested in exploring the diurnal, nocturnal and crepuscular, the nonhuman, and the wildness that resides in each of us through vivid, uncanny photographs, drawings, sculpture and installation. Within my work, nature and magic are terms prescribed to conjure the notion of the interconnectedness of all life forces as a foundation of verity, power, and mystery—both intelligible and arcane. I give significant credence to the animal kingdom, minerals, plants, earth, water and sky—the known (the familiar), the unknown and the essential. These ancient and sentient entities carry innate unspoken cues that continue to inform pivotal roles within modern life and my contemporary art production."
Courtney Sina Meredith (1986–) is a poet, playwright, fiction writer and musician. Her play Rushing Dolls (2010) won a number of awards and was published by Playmarket in 2012. She launched her first book of poetry, Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick (Beatnik), at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair and her debut book of short stories Tail of the Taniwha was launched in 2016. Meredith describes her writing as an ‘ongoing discussion of contemporary urban life with an underlying Pacific politique’. Her poetry and prose have been translated into Italian, German, Dutch, French and Bahasa Indonesia. She is of Samoan, Mangaian and Irish descent. Meredith holds a degree in English and Political Studies from the University of Auckland, where she also studied Law and co-edited Spectrum 5 (Penguin). She is currently a writer in residence for the prestigious International Writing Progam’s Fall Residency at the University of Iowa.
“This book (Tail of the Taniwha), marvelous and memorable, affected me as both a writer and a person. It offers me points of self-recognition. With this book, Meredith joins our very best writers.” – Paula Green, poet, reviewer and children’s writer.
“Her latest publication Tale of the Taniwha… extends some of the personal and social themes she dealt with in her first book but this new collection takes a wider scope, gets more personal and is ingenious in its experimentation.”- John Daly-Peoples, Arts Critic, NBR.
Poet Robert Sullivan described Courtney Sina Meredith as ‘a leader of the new generation of writers and performance artists gracing our poetry… Meredith’s voice is an exciting addition to New Zealand and Pacific literatures. That voice is full of gusto, attuned to a range of lived and heart realities. Through her absorption of Berlin’s high and low literary culture, her roots in the Auckland Samoan diaspora, and her familiarity with world Polynesian writing, she brings together an edgy singer’s strength, wry insights, sensual material, beautiful shards, blood and breath, monsoons, and glistening water.’
The power of her work is evident in performance and on the page. In 2008 she won the Going West Poetry Slam and the Montana Poetry Slam. Her play Rushing Dolls won the Aotearoa Pasifika Play Competition 2010, and two Adam New Zealand Play Awards: Best Play by a Woman Playwright and overall Runner-up. Rushing Dolls was subsequently published in Urbanesia: Four Pasifika Plays (Playmarket, 2012). Dr Diana Looser, in the 2014 Palgrave Macmillan anthology Contemporary Women Playwrights, says of Rushing Dolls: ‘The world the women inhabit as active, visible participants is “Urbanesia,” Meredith’s neologism for the energetic, urban, polygot culture of contemporary Auckland that brings the island and the city into profound collision, and acts as the crucible of new global identities.’
In 2011, Meredith was the first New Zealander, the first Pacific Islander and the youngest artist in the history of the LiteraturRaum project to be invited to Germany as writer-in-residence for the Bleibtreu Berlin. During her six-week residency she featured within the International Festival Berlin (ILB) and shared her writing in readings, appearances and interviews. She worked alongside renowned Samoan choreographer Lemi Ponifasio, penning the poem ‘Mau’ in honour of Ponifasio’s dance company. She later performed this poem at the opening of the world premiere of Le Savali, addressing the German president at the Berliner Festspiele. The residency was a formative time for Meredith and she was significantly influenced by meeting writers in exile who had suffered at the hands of their own governments. She returned to New Zealand as a passionate advocate for human rights, holding readings in Auckland that linked to worldwide readings alongside writers such as Noam Chomsky, against oppressive regimes and in recognition of contemporary thinkers.
Meredith’s connection to Germany continued with the launch of her first book of poetry, Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick (Beatnik), at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2012, where New Zealand was guest of honour. The collection is a snapshot of her early 20s, and best described by critic John Daly-Peoples (inNBR): ‘She grapples with the big issues of poverty, conflict, sexism and racism, but also more immediate ones of sex, drinking and eating. All this is rolled into poems which are both serious and frivolous. She is a mixture of performance poet and romantic – a singing Ginsberg and howling Shelley.’ ‘Silvertip’, a 20-part sequence of poems, was published inLandfall’s Frankfurt edition in 2012 and is based in part on her experience in Berlin.
Meredith has continued to share her work with an overseas audience, touring with a group of esteemed global writers for the International Indonesian Poetry Festival (Forum Penyair) in 2012, where she was published in the Indonesian anthology What’s Poetry?. She was a delegate for the British Council for Phakama and took part in activities in London that formed part of the Cultural Olympiad in 2012. During her delegation she visited the University of Oxford, where she met with leading scholars and became fascinated with the city. She returned in 2013 to write a series of short poems reflective of her experiences – ‘Commonwealth’ was published by Anne Kennedy in Ika 2 literary and arts journal (2014).
In 2013 Meredith was invited by Alistair Paterson to be the featured poet for Poetry New Zealand 46, guest edited by Nicholas Reid. Reid noted ‘the poems express Meredith’s concerns with culture, the meetings of culture, dislocation and mystery – in both the religious and secular senses.’ Her poem ‘Homeland’, was subsequently anthologised in Essential New Zealand Poets: Facing the Empty Page edited by Siobhan Harvey, Harry Ricketts and James Norcliffe (Random House NZ, 2014).
In 2014 Meredith was invited to the House of Lords by the BBC by permission of Lord Bikhu Parekh, to discuss Britain’s role in the world. The evening was chaired by Bridget Kendall and celebrated the success of the BBC radio show ‘The Forum’. Later in 2014, Courtney was successful in securing an Arts Grant from Creative New Zealand to write her first book of short stories Tail of the Taniwha.
In 2015 Meredith was a finalist for the inaugural Auckland Mayoral Writers Grant, her play Rushing Dolls was selected by Silo Theatre for Working Titles, and she was invited to be part of ‘Women of Letters’ as part of LitCrawl in November (Wellington) alongside Jacinda Adern, Kate Camp, Suzy Cato and others. Two of Meredith’s short stories from her upcoming book Tail of the Taniwha were selected for publication by both La Trobe and Melbourne University for an upcoming Volume called Touring Pacific Cultures. The first chapter from Tail of the Taniwha was released at the Frankfurt Book Fair October 2015, and the entire collection will be published by Beatnik in August 2016. Meredith represented New Zealand at the Mexico City Poetry Festival in November 2015, she took part in readings around the city and visited the home of Frida Kahlo. She was thrilled to have some of her poetry anthologised in Spanish.
Tail of the Taniwha, Meredith’s first book of short stories is now available here The book will be officially launched in August 2016 by award-winning novelist, short story writer and essayist Paula Morris.
Meredith with be New Zealand’s representative for the Fall Residency at the International Writing Program, Iowa University from August to November 2016. After Iowa, she will travel to the Island Institute in Sitka Alaska as a Teaching Artist in Residence.
Nikki Zielinski joins us in Sitka as the 2016 Rasmuson Foundation Artist in Residence at the Island Institute. Nikki's poetry explores the ways in which experiences of violence, both overt and institutional, shape one’s perception of and interaction with their communities and environments.
Strongly influenced by oral storytelling traditions, including fairy tales and folklore, Nikki finds influence in various art forms and media, including visual arts, dance, music, television, experimental theater/performance art, film, contemporary philosophy, and art theory.
Of her more recent approach to poetry, Nikki says, "Though my poems have always been musically focused and deeply engaged with the story-telling potential of the image, I have lately prioritized rhythmic momentum over more overt musical gestures (such as rhyme or scannable metrics) in an attempt to harness the mnemonic power of poetic form in newer, more flexible ways. In revising my work toward such musicality, I am also striving to build a personalized but permeable world of allusion from which I can draw, an imagism in which bodies transcend their objectification as muse and become instead independent, flawed, and utilitarian vehicles for expression; in which socially suppressed desires suffuse both body and landscape; in which the quieter violence of enforced silence and cultural invisibility manifests itself bodily and environmentally. As much as our memories and senses drive and shape our experiences of an environment or emotion, I strive in my work overall to create multidimensional sensory image-experiences that, though immediately apprehensible, accrue layers of meaning on further readings and contemplation."
Nikki Zielinski’s poems appear in Best New Poets 2016, Cincinnati Review, Bellingham Review, Meridian, Southern Humanities Review, Sou’Wester, Vinyl, Birmingham Poetry Review, PANK, New Madrid, and elsewhere. Since receiving her MFA from the University of Oregon, she has received prizes, residencies, and scholarships from such organizations as Djerassi, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Ohio Arts Council, Bridport Arts Centre, Vermont Studio Center, and Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, as well as recent Pushcart and Forward Prize nominations. A freelance editor, she lives in Cleveland.
Allison Warden is an Iñupiaq interdisciplinary artist born in Fairbanks, Alaska with close ties to Kaktovik, Alaska. She is also known by her rap persona, AKU-MATU. Her most recent show, “Let Glow” debuted at the Bunnell Street Art Center as part of an artistic residency in March 2014. “Let Glow” is an interactive interdisciplinary piece that explores a man’s process towards love and the push to drill for oil on the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd. In 2015, she received a State of Alaska Governor’s Award in the Arts and Humanities. In 2013, she received a Connie Boochever fellowship in performance art from the Alaska State Council of the Arts and a Rasmuson Individual Artist Award for performance art in 2012.
Her one-woman show, “Calling All Polar Bears” debuted at Pangea Theatre with Intermedia Arts in 2011 as part of a National Performance Network (NPN) residency. “Calling All Polar Bears” brings the audience virtually to the village of Kaktovik, where they hear about the impacts of climate change in the Arctic and the push for resource extraction from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It has since toured to Berlin,Germany London, England, and the communities of Anchorage and Homer in Alaska. In 2009, she created an interactive interdisciplinary piece at MTS Gallery in Anchorage, Alaska titled, “virtual subsistence”. It incorporated video projection, the smell of polar bear cooking and a herd of caribou being hunted in the gallery to look at land issues and subsistence rights in Alaska.
Her current project, “Unipkaaġusiksuġuvik (the place of the future/ancient)” will debut as a solo show at the Anchorage Museum in October of 2016. The show is an interdisciplinary installation of an Iñupiaq ceremonial house that exists in the space between the hyper-future and the super-ancient. During the two month run of the exhibit, Warden will be physically in the gallery installation for a total of 390 hours. She is in the process of recreating artifacts from the Museum using futuristic materials, and artifacts from the Museum’s collection will also be incorporated in the space. She currently resides in Anchorage, Alaska.
Owing to her multi-faceted background and international outlook, Fung draws inspirations from a wide range of sources and popular sub-cultures, including fairy tales, children’s picture books, the Japanese Otaku, fifteenth-century European etching, as well as traditional Chinese painting. Animals and their relationships with humans, explored from various intellectual and philosophical angles whether emotional, sustenance, or environmental, is a long recurring thread in her works.
Her works have been exhibited in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Korea and China. Her work Plastic, plastic, every where! received the Grotto Award, Hong Kong Baptist University (2015.) Her most recent work Polluta, Floating Artist Colony in the Sky (2015) was part of a juried international programme City as Metaphors with Hong Kong Baptist University, Zurich University of the Arts and Hamburg City University. Her exhibition I Don’t Know if You Know How Much I Love You (2012) was the inaugural solo show at hi art store, a gallery project of Beijing art tycoon Wu Jing. Her works have been featured in the media numerous times, and are in international private collections, and The Canada Council Art Bank.
Having lived in Vancouver for almost two decades, the artist returned to her place of birth Hong Kong to pursue her art career in the summer of 2011.
Chantal Bilodeau is a New York playwright and translator originally from Montreal. She is the Artistic Director of The Arctic Cycle – an organization created to support the writing, development and production of eight plays that examine the impact of climate change on the eight countries of the Arctic – and the founder of the international network Artists And Climate Change.
Awards include the Woodward International Playwriting Prize as well as First Prize in the Earth Matters on Stage Ecodrama Festival and the Uprising National Playwriting Competition. She is the recipient of a Jerome Travel & Study Grant, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Compton Foundation grants, and a U.S. Department of State Federal Assistance Award.
Productions include Sila (Underground Railway Theater, 2014), Hunger (Bated Breath Theatre Company, 2011), The Motherline (New York International Fringe Festival, 2009), Pleasure & Pain (Magic Theatre; Foro La Gruta, Teatro La Capilla and Festival de Teatro Nuevo León in Mexico City, 2007), and the English translations of Holy Land by Mohamed Kacimi (3rd Kulture Kids, 2014), Bintou by Koffi Kwahulé (The Movement Theatre Company, 2010) and Abraham Lincoln Goes to the Theatre by Larry Tremblay (Alberta Theatre Projects, 2010). Her work has been read and developed at theaters and universities across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Italy and Norway.
Her translations include over a dozen plays by contemporary playwrights Sébastien David (Québec), Mohamed Kacimi (Algeria), Koffi Kwahulé (Côte d’Ivoire), Étienne Lepage (Quebec), Larry Tremblay (Quebec) and others.
She has written about the intersection of arts and climate change for American Theatre Magazine,HowlRound, the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences, and the World Policy Institute, and presented at the annual conference of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Iowa State University, Rice University, Tufts University, and York University. She is a co-organizer of the international Climate Change Theatre Action.
Teri Rofkar, whose Tlingit name is Chas' Koowu Tla'a, was born into the Raven Clan. As a young child, she was exposed to traditional methods of weaving by her grandmother. While too busy and impatient at the time to sit down and weave, these experiences later inspired her to seek out elders in her community to learn these techniques. Today, she often refers to herself as a "basket case” because she weaves all the time, apart from when she is in the forest harvesting materials. She is known world-wide as a teacher and researcher and as a weaver of the once-lost art form of the Raven's Tail Robe. She says, "I am following the steps of ancestors, striving to recapture the woven arts of an indigenous people. The ancient ways of gathering spruce root, with respect for the tree's life and spirit, are a rich lesson in today's world. Traditional methods of gathering and weaving natural materials help me link past, present, and future. Links with a time when things were slower paced, a time when even a child’s berry basket was decorated with care. It is through sharing and exploring that this old art form shall take on new life."
Lgeik'i is travelling with the Tidelines tour as a culture bearer and language warrior. She is joined by two young leaders - Mary Jack and Cecilia George - from Hoonah High School and her three amazing children, Shgate (Ava), Wandatan (Sophie), and Deit Xoon (RJ).
Lgeik'i is Chookanshaa from Cedar House, Xaay Hit, Xunaa Kaawu - originally from Glacier Bay. Lgeik'i is daughter of Tammy Young and a Child of Ojibwe, Bad River band from Grand Marais MN, a grandchild of Luknax.adi, and great grand child of T'ukdeintaan and great great grandchild of Teikweidi. After graduating from the Sitka Native Education Program, she worked with the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Language and Education Department for twenty years, becoming director of the program. Lgeik'i is now the Director for Hoonah City Schools Haa Kusteeyi Aya, Coummunity Liaison for Sealaska Mentor Apprentice Program, Board member for Alaska Arts Southeast (Sitka Fine Arts), Raven Radio Board, and Vice President ANS Camp #4.
Anna Carson DeWitt is a writer and photographer from Durham, North Carolina. For the past decade, she has also served childbearing families as a birth doula in Washington DC, Honduras, and North Carolina. Anna holds an MFA in Creative Writing from American University. Her poems have appeared in national journals including Copper Nickel, Ecotone, Ninth Letter, and The Bellevue Literary Review. Her current project, "How You Got Here," explores maternity care, childbearing, and childhood around the world through writing, photography, and participant observation.
Samuel Kolawole was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria. He has contributed fiction and non-fiction to several journals and anthologies within and outside the continent. He authored the story collection “The Book of M (Serendipity Books, Nigeria, 2011)
He’s received grants and fellowships from Prince Claus fund for Culture and Development, the Norman Mailer Centre, Wellstone Centre in the Redwoods, and the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He is a graduate of the noted Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle, Washington.
Samuel is the founder and Director of Writers’ Studio, Nigeria’s flagship creative writing school which has trained over one hundred Nigerian writers and is now spreading fast throughout the African continent. In 2014, he served as the head judge for the Short Story Day Africa Contest with the theme; Terra Incognita: African Speculative Fiction. He is currently working on a collection of stories and a novel
Kimi Eisele is a dancer/choreographer, director, writer, and visual artist living in Tucson, Arizona. Her work is grounded in explorations of place and environment, creating opportunities for community collaboration, civic participation, and deeper discovery of our connection to nature. She has directed multiple dance projects for New ARTiculations Dance Theatre, exploring issues such as endangered species (Rosemont Ours, 2013), water (FLOW, 2012), urban revitalization (The Invisible City,2008), and food systems (We Are What We Eat, 2008). Her current projects are How to Duet with a Saguaro, investigating our relationship with movement, stillness, and the iconic Sonoran Desert cactus; and Transit Talks, using arts-based projects to promote community conversations about transit and climate change in Tucson. Her writing has been published in literary magazines, anthologies, and online news outlets. She received the 2012 Arizona Commission on the Arts’ Artist Project Grant for her novel-in-progress about America in the post-apocalypse. Also a visual artist, Kimi makes papercuttings and shadow puppet theater about community, wildlife, and the human body. She is the 2014 recipient of the “Lumie” Award for Established Artist from the Tucson Pima Arts Council and has been a resident artist at Djerassi, Blue Mountain Center, and the Mesa Refuge. Read more about her projects at www.KimiEisele.com or view her artwork at www.KimiEiseleArtwork.com.While in Sitka, Kimi collaborated with Robert Woolsey from the KCAW staff to produce a story about the Yellow Cedar. It can be heard here:
Kimi was also interviewed on Raven Radio:
We produced a booklet collecting together Kimi's writing, artwork, and ideas. You can browse it here:
Kimi spent some of her time in Sitka in conversation with the landscape through dance:
Finally, Kimi's time in Sitka culminated with the shadow puppetry production of In/Out of the Shadows: A Yellow Cedar Tale:
During her month-long residency at the Island Institute, singer-songwriter Leah Abramson plans to work on a collaborative songwriting project that explores the lives of Pacific Northwest resident orcas. For the past eight years, Leah has worked as a singer-songwriter and band member in various musical ensembles where she has released four studio albums of original songs, and contributed to dozens of other recordings as a songwriter, vocalist, and multiinstrumentalist. Abramson also works as an adjunct professor at The University of British Columbia, where she has been teaching a songwriting and lyric workshop since 2012.
For almost 40 years, scientists at OrcaLab, a research facility on Hanson Island, B.C., have been recording and tracking the vocalizations of orcas with the help of underwater hydrophones. In “collaboration” with pods of northern resident orcas, whose vocalizations have been recorded and are available online in a database of recordings, Abramson will be writing songs for a thematic album. Using these vocalizations as a guide, she will create a musical vocabulary that informs the album’s rhythms and melodies with real patterns and themes from orca calls, whistles, clicks, and squeals. In part she will accomplish this by the use of the Theremin, an electro-acoustic instrument that can mimic orca sounds quite remarkably.
Though there has been much media attention on whales in captivity—a great number of whom were captured from Pacific Northwest pods—the plight of wild orcas has received far less attention. Though classified as a “threatened” species, and still recovering from past captures and killings, resident orcas face threats of environmental contamination, loss of food stocks (salmon, in the case of resident orcas), physical injury from marine vessels, as well as the ongoing effects of underwater sound pollution, a concern for whales that use sound for navigation and are sensitive to loud volumes. By listening to the same orca family through thirty-plus years of vocalizations, Abramson hopes to document how the acoustic environment is changing in relation to these threats, and use these findings in her work.
By using scientific research methods to inform an album of songs, Abramson’s project aims to bring marine environmental protection into the public discourse. In using music, a feature of both human and orca worlds, she seeks a two-way mirror that shows humans and orcas in relation to each other, highlighting the importance of issues such as environmental contamination for the survival of both species. As highly intelligent species with culture and language, humans and orcas might have more in common than we readily admit. Research into the impact of trauma on animals and humans will also inform the tone and content of the project.
Though she is researching B.C.’s northern resident orcas, she expects that her project will also connect with coastal peoples in the USA that are host to whale populations. Some orcas travel the length of the B.C. coast and into Alaska, and she looks forward to learning more about the whale populations around Sitka, and spending time in their environment.
In addition to her work, Abramson looks forward to engaging with the community in Sitka and hosting songwriting workshops. As a songwriting instructor at The University of British Columbia, Girls Rock Camp Vancouver, as well as at The Fraser Valley Institution for Women, she has taught songwriting and music to people from all walks of life. She is continuing this teaching in Sitka with a series of weekly songwriting workshops that culminate in a showcase performance for the participants.
An introduction from Ali: I am Maar’aq~Alice Rose Crow. My family and friends also call me Ali (pronounced All-E or Alley).
Born and raised in Bethel—on the lower Kuskokwim River in southwest Alaska—my journeys are extensive. My life experience includes fishing, hunting, gathering, hiking, camping, creating, writing, boating, flying, ferrying, rafting, train-ing, and/or driving from our Bay upriver to near the Kusquqvak headwaters, through Alaska, Hawai’i, into western Canada, across theUnited States and along her shores, into Mexico, and the northern reaches of Japan.
I have lived around the state, including the Mat-Su Valley, Kotzebue, and Fairbanks. I nest in Spenard, a homestead turned old westside Anchorage neighborhood, near water and where planes take off. I am a momma, granny, lover, ilung, relative, and friend.
Wherever I find myself, I am a Yuk. Yuk refers to a Central Yup’ik Eskimo indigenous to windswept low watery tundra deltas. Yup’ik, Yuit, Yupiat, Yuks translate as real people. This Yuk writes for all of us, to affirm and represent the existence of my own people through the lens of my direct experience within my own real family.
As an emerging diasporic writer of the far west, I embark on a journey to create and release varied-form unhidden works of my homeland: our diaspora, and world.
I have been an emerging writer for over fifteen years. My short pieces have been read and heard close and far since 2000. A next writerly goal is to publish book-length works. Towards this end, I have migrated to and from the snaking high desert road outside of Mud City for two years to earn my seat as a member of the inaugural class of the Institute of American Indi(genous)an Arts low-residency MFA program in creative writing. I study under expert guidance, including mentorship by Chip Livingston, Elissa Washuta, and Linda Hogan.
While in Sitka I will complete a dual tracked ten-part mixed-form literary nonfiction manuscript. An Offering of Words is a collection of personal monographs naming rapid changes to indigeneity while also offering reminders to maintain balance and continuity passed down…to Maar’aq to Granny—to Ma—to me… In this offering, I name absurdities of invasion in the generation of great-grandmothers and highlight forces that shape our renewal as real people staying steady in these times of rapid change and anomie. I unmask unspoken silences for possibilities of stepping through lulling lies, disinterest, and suspicion to arrive at truer reflections of relationships with and on this earth; for the sake of our future as distinct peoples.
An Offering of Words will be submitted in May 2015 to fulfill a creative manuscript requirement for an MFA degree. Earlier versions and excerpts of the work have been published inBrevity blog, Camas, Yellow Medicine Review, River, Blood, and Corn, Retort, Frontiers, and Standards, and read at a Ceremony of Healing: Expressions Concerning Violence toward Alaska Native Women, Literary Reading by Alaska Native Women in 2001, and at the inaugural Alaska Native Studies Conference held at the University of Alaska Anchorage in April 2013. In December, a first chapter of this work was nominated for national review in the AWP Intro Journals Project competition. Several excerpts are forthcoming in the Hinchas de Poesia Issue 15 and in the Spring 2015 issue of Yellow Medicine Review slated to be launched at Alaska Pacific University by guest editor Joan Naviyuk Kane on Hitler’s birthday, April 20.
My second focus will be to finalize an approximately 6700-word experimental mixed form academic essay. In it—like ceremonial masks created by real people to simultaneously manifest intent and alter circumstances—a heavily annotated braided mosaic form is used to illustrate how creative works might achieve multiple aims.
To augment my quiet work, during my Island Institute fellowship I will visit residents at the Pioneer Home each Thursday afternoon in April. On Tuesday afternoons I will sit with a curator in the presence of representations of Yup’ik material culture taken from our homeland to live in our diaspora, in this case, at a state museum. I have also offered to participate in dialogue with Mount Edgecumbe High School Braves. Whatever our conversation, I hope to encourage each person to give voice to their own life experiences and foster artistic development that by its nature strengthens community dialogue. I hope to facilitate listening, encourage witnessing through the written and spoken word, and express what life has taught me about resiliency and continuance. I will visit and gather with my kinspeople living in Sitka, and be egged on by my award-winning colleague Ruby Hansen Murray. We have proposed a public reading to coincide with Earth Day, April 22nd. See you there?
An introduction from Ruby:
I’m a writer and photographer living on Puget Island in the lower Columbia River. As an enrolled Osage, I travel to Pawhuska, Oklahoma where my father was born for ceremonial dances and meetings of our Native American Church.
I’ve been a reader and writer from my earliest years. As a girl, I spent time tucked in libraries on military posts in Japan, France, Virginia and Arkansas. When my father retired to Ft. Bliss in El Paso, I didn’t know that some people stayed in one place. I lived in cities in Northern California and Portland, Oregon before I came to Cathlamet and encountered multi-generational stories like those I’d heard from my parents about the Osage and about life in the Virgin Islands.
Fishers from Cathlamet travel to Alaska each year as the fishery on the Columbia River declines as a result of political and environmental challenges. My father-in-law was one of the men who first ran a boat up from Puget Island to fish the Copper River flats and Prince William Sound. An immigrant, Pete said the reason he now lived on Puget Island was that the herring hadn’t come to Norway one year. My creative work focuses on resilience in the face of environmental change and displacement. I write about commercial fishing communities, and also, about present and historical Wah Zha Zhi.
The Heart Stays People is my novel-in-progress set in the early 1820’s when hundreds of Osage children were orphaned. Junot Díaz said he was “fascinated by the almost mythic resonances of the story” in which an Osage girl tries to return to her tribe. Chapters have won notice in contests in Minnesota, Oklahoma, Portland, Oregon. Recently, a chapter that intrigued IAIA faculty Sherman Alexie placed in the Tribal College Journal contest. My Osage relatives tell me how important it is that I add to the published stories of indigenous people.
My creative work, poetry, hybrid essay and fiction, appears or is forthcoming in Wild in the Willamette, Four Winds Literary Magazine, Yellow Medicine Review, About Place, and Oregon Humanities Magazine and Oregon Public Radio. My process has been inspired by generous teachers like Luis Urrea at Fishtrap in Eastern Oregon and Joanne Mulcahy at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the Oregon coast. I began studying for an MFA in fiction at Warren Wilson College in 2014 and transferred to the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe where I’m completing my third semester. I’m fortunate to be a VONA/Voices fellow, and have been awarded residencies at Jentel, Playa and at Hypatia-in-Woods: each took me deep into a distant community, brought me stories rooted in those places. While at Sitka I will revise the novel, a hybrid form that aligns historical records with the oral histories in our family and tribes.
My photographs, inspired by the lower Columbia River and the trips I take with my husband away from our home in the temperate rainforest, appear in Hinchas de Poesia, Salal and American Ghost: Poets on Life After Industry by Stockport Flats Press. I’ve participated in collaborative projects that appear in Duende and Conversations Across Borders and have exhibited regionally in “Connecting Waters,” curated by Lower Columbia College and at River Life Interpretive Center in Skamokawa, Washington.
I look forward to spending time in Sitka at the Island Institute. I’ll come to know Sitka’s libraries, its communities and history, and spend time with Alice Rose Crow, whose instinct for truth telling feeds my creativity. I will offer writing workshops that have been successful with post-MFA writers like those at the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, as well as with community and tribal groups. I look forward to meeting local writers, and the chance to share stories.
Dr Jesse Blackadder is a previous Island Institute Fellow (from 2007). She is an author of award-winning adult and children’s novels with environmental themes, and an environmental journalist. Dr Carol Birrell is an academic, writer and environmental artist from the university of Western Sydney.
Jesse and Carol have a lifelong connection of bloodlines and passionate interests – Carol is Jesse’s aunt, and they have shared years of deep conversations about their work. Their overlapping areas of interest include sense of place, ecological writing, indigenous studies, and human-non-human relationships. They are both graduates in the discipline of Social Ecology from the University of Western Sydney, and they express their passions through different creative forms including storytelling, fiction and non-fiction writing, photography, visual and land-based art.
Carol and Jesse’s month long program – From the Desert to the Sea – includes both individual and collaboratory components. Much of their collaboration will focus on their offerings to the Sitka community, which include a number of talks and events, particularly focusing on:
- Whale Dreams workshop for children: A half day story-telling, drama, art and writing workshop for children 7-12 years old
- Imaginal landscapes workshop for adults: A one day creativity workshop that provides participants with creative tools for exploring and understanding environmental issues and for linking them with their own experience.
They will also be participating in the Sitka Story Lab.
Carol and Jesse are excited about meeting the local community.
Jimmy Riordan is an Alaskan born multidisciplinary artist and educator. Though technically trained in book-arts and printmaking, his practice is not bound by any specific media. Dealing in both images and experience, his work often involves collaboration, asking the audience and other artists for their participation. Community and location play a large role in Riordan's choice of form and development of content.
He is the founder of Rabbit Rabbit Press, an imprint that publishes artist books and comics, co-director of the Girdwood Summer Arts Camp and the editor of SOWSEAR, a quarterly collection of Alaskan made comics. Riordan regularly teaches for the University of Alaska and participate in artist residencies in schools throughout the state. His artwork has been shown internationally and the bookwork comprising the Le Roman du Lièvre project can be found in the library collections of the New York MOMA and the Tate Britain.
Dipika Guha was born in Calcutta and raised in India, Russia, and the United Kingdom. She spent two months in Sitka through the Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency Program, working on a new play, a television screenplay, and hosting readings and workshops while here.
She studied English Literature at University College London, was a Frank Knox Fellow at Harvard University, and received her MFA from the Yale School of Drama under Paula Vogel.
Her plays include THE BETROTHED (Wellfleet Harbour Actors Theatre, Chester Theatre), PASSING (Risk is This Festival, Cutting Ball Theatre) and THE RULES (Superlab workshop Playwrights Horizons/Clubbed Thumb, Old Vic New Voices workshop) and HERCULINE and LOLA (Playwrights Foundation). New work has been developed at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, WordBRIDGE, New Century Theatre Company, the Culture Project and Tobacco Theatre (UK), among others. Residencies include Ucross Foundation, Djerassi Residents Artists Program, and SPACE at Ryder Farm. She is a Dramatists Guild Fellow, a Time Warner Fellow at the Women’s Project Playwrights Lab, an Affiliated Artist with New Georges, an Ars Nova Playgroup Alum, and an Alum of the Young Writers Program of the Royal Court Theatre.
Dipika's HERCULINE and LOLA is still in progress. The play concerns two intersex characters: Herculine Barbin is a character based on a late 19th century diary that was recovered and published by Michel Foucault, and Lola is a contemporary intersex character of Dipika's invention. She says, "The play is in three parts. RED bounces back and forth between the 19th century and today and features a large array of characters in different locations, WHITE is set entirely in one white room in La Rochelle and charts the love affair between Herculine and her lover Sara and BLUE is where the two stories (almost) come together." Dipika also has a few new projects in mind, one of which is the book for a musical that she plans to eventually complete with composer Marisa Michelson. "I have a seedling idea," Dipika says, "about immaculate conception and a family of women in New Orleans who seem to be cursed with it." She will be at work on these and other projects during her time in Sitka.
She lives in New York.
Dipika is here in Sitka through the generous support and facilitation of the Rasmuson Foundation's Artist In Residence Program.
Our spring 2014 collaborative residency features two authors and friends, Carol Green and Tamie Harkins. In their time here, they are working on their own writing projects while drawing on one another for insight and inspiration.
Carol Green is on a yearlong fellowship through the University of Rochester's Medical Humanities department, and is investigating the varieties of spirituality among modern believers of a number of faith traditions, as well as non-believers. Carol is drawn most to the stories, "those peripatetic, painful avenues toward God and peace, and how these stories are rooted in the surest depths of a person - not in the side pockets". In Sitka, she hopes to learn more about the island's spiritual heritage, the dialogue between native faiths and those of later immigrants. Carol will offer classes related to her work in her time here.
Tamie Harkins grew up spending salmon season on a small island northwest of Kodiak Island, where her family worked. For the last three years, she has been writing a memoir, Even The Song Birds, about this experience, and she hopes to spend her time in Sitka turning sections of this work into stand-alone essays. She is excited to be in Sitka, both because she finds that the nature of her writing changes here, and because she finds the Institute's resilience work inspiring. Tamie will offer creative writing workshops while in Sitka.
Our winter 2014 residency featured Mona Susan Power and Galway McCullough, who worked on a creative theater piece that explores the roots of sexual violence against women.
Susan (Mona) Power is returning to Sitka for her second residency with the Island Institute. She first came in 2010 through United States Artists and the Rasmuson Foundation as a US Artist Fellow. Power says:
"Headlines every day carry the most horrific stories of the ways women are exploited and harmed, tales that leave us frustrated and heartbroken. My activism often manifests inart—telling a story in a way that moves an audience so overwhelmed with the daily spill of bad news they are numb."
Power is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and a native Chicagoan. She is the author of three books: The Grass Dancer, a novel (awarded a PEN/Hemingway prize); Roofwalker, a collection of stories and histories (awarded a Milkweed National Fiction Prize); and Sacred Wilderness, a forthcoming nove (available in February 2014)l. Her short fiction and essays have been widely published in journals and anthologies in the U.S. and European countries. She lives and teaches in St. Paul, Minnesota, and also makes a living as a public speaker and performer. She has given presentations at universities, libraries, literary festivals and conferences throughout the world.
Galway McCullough wears many hats in his work as a storyteller, including
actor, fight director/stunt coordinator, director and producer. He has performed leading roles in theater and film in the Twin Cities and New York as well as national and regional tours. Recent challenging roles include Stephen Belber and nine other roles in "The Laramie Project;" and title character, Bill W., in "Bill W. and Dr.Bob;" and the short film "The Sound" (hopefully you'll be able to see it at a festival near you, soon!). While attending Beloit College a summer-time extra-credit project led to his becoming the foreman during the construction of, then tour guide and manager of, Wa-Swa-Goning — a recreated Ojibwe village on the Lac Du Flambeau reservation in Northern Wisconsin.
Regarding his collaboration with Power, McCullough says
"The working title of our collboration is "Rape Culture" since we're interested in exploring the power dynamics that help foster this all too pervasive violence. … I can think of few issues which hinder vital communities worldwide more than the one we will be examining. … This topic cuts close to home for me as I've known far too many people who have bee victimized and wounded in ways that haunt them."
Sitka artist Norman Campbell has lived and drawn Southeast Alaska since 1982. Originally from Oregon, Campbell graduated from Southern Oregon College with an Applied Design degree.
In November of 2011 he completed a 30' by 4' pen and ink drawing. The images were taken from his thoughts and experiences from his daily life during this time. The drawing will be installed in the expanded Kettleson Library located in Sitka.
Currently, he works with pen and ink to which he most often adds watercolor to augment the line work. Much of his recent work is invented landscape drawn from his love of Southeast Alaska.
Campbell served for seven years on the Alaska State Council on the Arts and has participated in several Artist in the Schools residencies. He teaches classes at the University of Alaska Southeast and the Sitka FineArts Camp for both adults and children.
Norm participated in the first collaborative residency, with Ann Staley.
Ann Staley has been teaching and writing for the last four decades in the normal settings - high school, community college, college and university and in some less traditional ones as well: Oregon Correctional Facility for women, a women's group where we read everything from a Harlequin romance to Alice Walker's, The Color Purple, and always including the poems and essays she was, herself reading.
Ann was born in Pennsylvania and came "west" in the 1970's in her blue VW bug. She traveled 10K miles because she picked up hitchhikers and took them all where they were going. An inveterate letter-writer, she also visited all the folks she'd kept in touch with since grade school and right on through Peace Corps, Brazil, where she was a community organizer. When she arrived in San Francisco she could turn either left or right. She chose Route 1 heading north and ended up in Oregon. That first year she lived in a cabin, had her first garden, learned to chop wood and bake bread in an oven and to read by kerosene light. By spring she was missing, not town, but working with adolescents. Ann applied for teaching jobs but didn't have a phone to be called in for an interview. A diligent principal who also was looking for diversity on his staff hired her. She wore long skirts and Birkenstocks that year as she taught a Sports Literature, American Indian Literature, and a T-Group experimental class in a school which offered English electives. There was no State testing - a great time to be an educator. It's been a much narrower and buttoned-down curriculum since, and though she helped devise the scoring rubric for the state writing tests, she thinks a portfolio is a superior assessment tool for proving what a student is able to produce under pressure and also without being under pressure.
Ann has three masters degrees: Humanities, Master of Arts in Teaching, and Public Policy and Leadership, that last one from Stanford where she went thinking that she wanted to be a school principal. She loved the classes and professors at Stanford but when she shadowed a principal at the conclusion of her internship she used a stop watch to study time-on-task. The wonderful elementary principal, the only woman in the Palo Alto SD in the mid-eighties, she clocked her in at 2:46 seconds - the longest she spent on anything during a day and a half. Ann returned happily to the classroom and put a note on the door: Do Not Interrupt This Class Unless The Building Is On Fire! Even the Secretary obeyed.
On her gravestone she wants the following: Loved This World, Pen In Hand.
Ann participated in the first Collaborative Residency, with Norm Campbell.
Marjorie Gellhorn Sa’adah writes and teaches nonfiction to pursue her keen interests and to contribute to the life of her community. After two decades developing and leading innovative programs in community health, Sa’adah is focused on introducing teenagers to the power and practice of creative writing. She has launched writing programs in probation camps, high schools and nonprofits in rural and urban communities. Her writing has been awarded fellowships from Sundance, PEN USA, the Durfee Foundation, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Hedgebrook, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the MacDowell Colony.
In Fall, 2013, she will be the Rasmuson Artist Residency Program Fellow at the Island Institute. Her essays appear in anthologies, journals, and the Op-Ed and Book Review pages of the Los Angeles Times. She teaches Creative Nonfiction at the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference. Sa’adah is a graduate of Hamilton College, and received her Master’s degree in Ethics from the Episcopal Divinity School. Every summer, she can be found haying the steep slopes of her family’s farm in the Catskill Mountains of New York.
Cedar Marie holds an MFA in visual art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her creative work is inspired by people who work on the water and investigates the cultural shifts of small fishing communities. Pairing research and writing with art production to extend the range of her creative practice, she often combines writing with documentary photography and hand crafted objects from fishing culture to tell a story about the preservation of cultural traditions through living experiences. Commercial fishing informs her creative practice, and her art is intimately tied to expressing the conditions in which people live and work.
A recent recipient of both an Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC) Creative Arts Fellowship and an Art Writing and Curatorial Fellowship, Marie is currently curating the international art exhibition FISH for the University of Oklahoma School of Art where she also teaches. Her work has been cited in numerous publications including Slate Magazine and the College Art Association's Art Journal, and is included in the forthcoming anthology Re/Theorizing Writing Histories of Rhetoric edited by Michelle Ballif (Southern Illinois University Press, fall 2012). She is originally from the “land of 10,000 lakes.”
During her residency, she will work on her first book project: Women of the Fleet: Fishing for Resiliency in Sitka, Alaska.
Golden is a poet and fisherman from Washington State. She spent the summer of 2012 working on F/V Challenger, seining for salmon in Southeast Alaska. Sierra has spent time living or traveling in Alaska, North Carolina, Argentina, Spain, and Mexico. Her writing focuses on natural environments, small towns, and work, especially that of the commercial fishing industry in Southeast Alaska.
She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from North Carolina State University, and her literary honors include an Academy of American Poets Prize and a Susan C. Boynton Poetry Prize. Her work can be seen in Coldflashes: Literary Snapshots of Alaska, Cirque, Fourth River, and Mobius: The Journal of Social Change. In addition to her work as a writer and fisherman, she is the poetry editor for Raleigh Review.
Robert Lee is a poet, novelist, and essayist from Missoula, Montana. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. His humorous, epistolary novel, Guiding Elliott, was published by Lyon’s Press in 1997. His work has been published in the anthologies Poems Across the Big Sky and New Montana Stories, and in Montana Magazine as well as in many small presses. His essay “Midsummer Musings“ was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Robert teaches writing in grade schools and high schools with the Missoula Writing Collaborative, and he is a writing tutor at the University of Montana. His outreach placements with MWC include two years in Arlee, Montana on the Flathead Reservation and three month-long residencies (2008-2010) in Hydaburg, Alaska. His love affair with Alaska began with his first visit (to Fairbanks) in 1969, and he is particularly enamored of South East. He is excited to write and to engage with community members during his first visit to Sitka.
Janée Baugher holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University. Her influences include the visual arts and the natural sciences, and her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have been widely published. Collaboratively, Baugher’s poetry has been adapted for dance and set to music at University of Cincinnati, Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, and Dance Now! Ensemble in Florida. Baugher is the author of the collection of ekphrastic and travel poems, Coördinates of Yes (Ahadada Books), and in 2011 she presented her work at the Library of Congress. An associate editor for StringTown magazine, Baugher lives in Seattle where she teaches Creative Writing and Literature at Richard Hugo Literary House and University of Phoenix. During her residency, she’ll be working on a collection of water-themed lyric essays.
Katey Schultz is a self-employed fiction writer and editor for national magazines. Her style is wide-ranging, sometimes personal essay, sometimes lyric, always visual and descriptive. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University and a B.A. in Philosophy from Whitman College. Katey is the author of the nonfiction chapbook Lost Crossings and editor of two fiction anthologies published by Main Street Rag. Her nonfiction has been recognized by awards from Marylhurst University and Oregon Quarterly Literary Magazine. In the past two years, her fiction has received five awards, most notably the Linda Flowers Literary Prize awarded by North Carolina's Humanities Council, and first place in several flash fiction contests.
For the past 23 months, Katey has been on the road on a three-year residency and fellowship tour across the United States while working on a fiction manuscript. Flashes of War is comprised of seven short stories and twenty-two flash fictions featuring characters in and around the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Alexandra Petrova was born in Russia, lived in Jerusalem, and currently resides in Rome. She is the author of three collections of Russian poetry; their English titles are Point of Detachment, Residence Permit, and Just the Trees. Her poems have appeared in the Russian magazines: Znamia, Zvezda, and Zerkalo; in English in Literary Revue, Modern Poetry in Translation, Drunken Boat, Guernica, and many more. She has also written a libretto for an Russian operetta titled (in English) "Dolly's Shepherds, A Philosophical Play."
Alexandra was short listed for the Andrej Belyj award in Moscow (2001, 2007) and she has received awards from the "Migrante" European Poetry meeting (2006), Belgrade's Festival of Poetry Trceg TRG (2008), and the Torino Festival's Sixth Annual National Mother Language Literary Competition (2011). She is currently at work on her first novel. She comes to Sitka through the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.
Rebecca Lawton is a California natural scientist and writer whose passion is exploring and writing about the outdoor world. Her work has been published in Orion, Sierra, The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Shenandoah, Standing Wave, and other magazines. Her literary honors include the Ellen Meloy Fund Award for Desert Writers and three Pushcart Prize nominations for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
For many years she was a whitewater guide in the West, including ten seasons on the Colorado in Grand Canyon. Her memoir Reading Water: Lessons from the River was aSan Francisco Chronicle Bay Area Bestseller and ForeWord Nature Book of the Year finalist. She co-authored three additional works of nonfiction on creativity and the outdoors. Her scientific work has focused on the movement of sediment and water. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College, and a B.S. in Earth Sciences from UC Santa Cruz.
Carlos Reyes’ many books of poems include The Book of Shadows: New and Selected Poems and At the Edge of the Western Wave. His newest book,Pomegranate, Sister of the Heart, was released in 2012 by Lost Horse Press. An avid traveler and translator, his knowledge of labor, the land, and the daily struggles of everyday existence inform his work. Carlos’ poems have been widely anthologized and published in numerous literary journals. He has taught poetry in the schools and in community workshops throughout the Northwest. Other jobs have involved him in commercial fishing, migrant farm work, surveying and engineering, and college teaching. In 2007 he was awarded a Heinrich Boll Fellowship to write on Achill Island, Ireland, and in 2008 was awarded the Ethel Fortner Award from St Andrews College. He recently made a trip to Bengaluru, India, where he gave readings and met with Indian poets and writers.
Linda Green is an anthropologist whose work has involved her with indigenous peoples in Central America, the American Southwest, and Alaska. Her book, Fear as a Way of Life: Mayan Widows in Rural Guatemala, is a deeply moving account of Mayan women who lived daily with inescapable violence, constantly building and rebuilding their lives to survive the terrors of a twenty-year civil war.
Linda currently lives in Arizona and is the Director of the Center for Latin American studies at the University of Arizona. She is concerned with humanitarian issues of migrants crossing the border and was recently awarded a Wenner-Gren Foundation International Collaborative Research Grant for a project entitled “Impacts of Illegality: Immigration Raids, Social Networks, Vulnerable Spaces.” During her Island Institute residency, she worked on her book To Die in the Silence of History, which emerged from her research on the social and cultural effects of the tuberculosis epidemics in Southwest Alaska. Linda is a humanitarian-scholar whose work aims to both change our thinking and make a difference in the life of others.
Fahrad Khoyratty is a senior lecturer at the University of Mauritius. His short story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” which appeared in the fall 2010 Connotations, was first published inJungfrau: A Selection of Works from the Caine Prize in African Writing (2007). Other pieces have appeared in Journeys, Farafina Literary Journal, and Wasafiri.His story “Compass” was selected by Nobel Prize J.M. Coetzee for the second prize of the HSBC/SA PEN Literary Award 2005. He has edited numerous collections and anthologies, most recently Mauritian Impressions, the first anthology of Mauritian literature in English for over 20 years. He came to Sitka through the International Writing Program (link) at the University of Iowa.
Kate Miller came to Sitka to work on a novel of historical fiction set in Sitka and Russia during the Russian-American colonial era. Her earlier publications include articles for history journals and anthologies, as well as poems. Her novel in progress, Sitkha, is her first work of fiction. Kate holds a Master’s Degree in English and taught literature and writing classes in Maryland for twelve years. Following that she took courses toward a Ph.D. in American Studies, but interrupted her studies for a career with the National Park Service, including three years as Alaska Regional Historian in the late 1980’s. She also worked for four years as Executive Director of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College in Wisconsin. She lives with her husband in International Falls, Minnesota.
lê thi diem thúy is a writer and solo performance artist. She left her native Vietnam by boat in 1978 with her family and was raised in southern California. She currently lives in western Massachusetts. lé writes about the experiences of Vietnamese refugees living in the United States, in her words the “floating casualties of history.” By focusing on the experiences of individuals within historic events, she confronts conventional history and explores the role of the body as the site of memory.
lê is the author of the debut novel, The Gangster We Are All Looking For (available for sale through Sitka's independent bookstore, Old Harbor Books). It chronicles the life of a Vietnamese girl growing up in California with memories of being a boat refugee and of a brother who drowned in Vietnam as well as an alcoholic father. Her prose and poetry have appeared inThe Massachusetts Review, Harper's Magazine, Muae and The Best American Essays as well as in the anthologies Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible, The Very Inside, Half & Half, andWatermark. Her solo performance works Red Fiery Summer, the bodies between us, and Carte Postalehave been presented at--among other venues--the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, the International Women Playwrights' Festival in Galway, Ireland, the New World Theater at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the Marfa Theater Company in Marfa, Texas. She has been awarded residencies from the Headlands Center For The Arts, the GAEA Foundation, and the Lannan Foundation and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute For Advanced Study, the Guggenheim Foundation, and United States Artists.
Theater Journal had this to say about lê’s performance of Red Fiery Summer--
“Born in Vietnam during the devastating bombing campaigns of 1972, and raised in housing for Vietnamese immigrants in San Diego, thúy turned her family’s story into a powerful drama that raised questions of memory and identity. Despite the energy of the events this work recounts - the horrors of war, the passion of her parents’ young love, the desperation of her family breaking into their own home to retrieve their belongings after they had been evicted - lê performed most of the pieces at a slow, dream-like pace, her voice and movements graceful, rolling, unforced. But this same gentleness, when matched with the horrific violence underlying the story, created in performance the taut energy of a tightly drawn bow.”
lé was a resident with the Island Institute in 2010 as well. She came to Sitka than and returns now through collaboration with the United States Artists and the Rasmuson Foundation. She was the US Artist Ford Fellow in Literature for 2008.
Glimpses of thúy's work:
Print: One of thúy's poems was featured in Capital City Weekly on March 7th.
Susan Power received a law degree from Harvard University in 1986 and turned to creative writing after reading the works of Native American writer Louise Erdrich. Susan is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux, and her stories are informed by her Native heritage. She received an MFA from the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop in 1992. She has published two books,The Grass Dancer, which won PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Fiction, and Roofwalker. She has served as writer-in-residence at Princeton University and has received a Radcliffe Bunting Institute Fellowship. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in magazines such as the Atlantic Monthly, the Paris Review, and Harper’s Bazaar, and in anthologies such as Best American Short Stories 1993, Reinventing the Enemy’s Language, and The Paris Review Book of Heartbreak . . . and Everything Else in the World since 1953. She teaches at Hamline University in Minnesota.
Alice Pung is a writer, lawyer and teacher from Victoria, Australia. The author of Her Father’s Daughter and Unpolished Gem and the editor of Growing up Asian in Australia, Alice has received enormous critical acclaim for her writing. Unpolished Gem won the 2007 Australian Newcomer of the Year award in the Australian Book Industry Awards, was shortlisted for several other awards, has been translated into other languages and is also published in the UK and US. She has had stories and articles published in Good Weekend, Meanjin, the Monthly, Age, The Best Australian Stories 2007 and Etchings.
In 2008, Alice was the Asialink writer-in-residence at Peking University. In 2011, Alice was the Australian representative to the US Department of State ‘Fall and Recovery’ writers’ tour of disaster and conflict sites of America. She has also given guest lectures at Brown University, Vassar College, Peking University, the University of Bologna, the University of Milano and the University of Pisa.
She came to Sitka through the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.
Jerry Martien is the author of Shell Game: A True Account of Beads and Money in North America, a history of economic exchange, as well as three books of poetry: Pieces in Place; Upriver Downriver; andJourney Work. During his residency he worked on a forthcoming book about caretaking—of both people and land—in California. He holds both a B.A and a Ph.D. in English, and was a lecturer in Creative Writing at Humboldt State University in California for twelve years. He was involved in the Poets-in-the-Schools program in three California counties for fifteen years. One of the early proponents of bioregionalism, he has been involved with the work of various regional environmental organizations. He has also worked with his neighbors to preserve and restore the coastal dunes near Eureka, California, where he lives.
Ellen Waterston is an award-wining poet and essayist from Bend, Oregon. A New Englander who married and moved to the ranching West, Ellen grounds her writing in both of those cultural and geographic landscapes. Her award-winning essays, short stories and poems have been published in numerous journals, anthologies and reviews. Her most recent book, Where the Crooked River Rises: A High Desert Home (OSU Press 2010), illuminates the people, places and landscape of Central Oregon’s vast high desert, and was partly written during her Sitka residency. Two collections of Ellen’s poetry, Between Desert Seasons and I Am Madagascar, have been awarded WILLA Prizes in Poetry (2009 and 2005, respectively). Her memoir, Then There Was No Mountain, was selected by the Oregonian as one of the top ten books in 2003.
Ellen is the founder and director of The Nature of Words, an annual literary event that brings nationally recognized authors and poets for four days of readings, panel discussions, and workshops to Bend, Oregon the first weekend of November.
Tony Garcia has been the Executive Artistic Director of El Centro Su Teatro since 1989 and has been a member of Su Teatro since 1972. He received his BA in Theatre from the University of Colorado at Denver. Tony has received numerous awards and accolades for his artistic vision, including the 1989 University of California, Irvine Chicano Literary Award, a 2006 United States Artists Fellowship, and was named the Denver Post 2010 Theatre Person of the Year. Most recently, he received the prestigious Livingston Fellowship from the Bonfils Stanton Foundation. Tony is a past faculty member for the National Association of Latino Art and Culture (NALAC) Leadership Institute as well as a past board member, he is a peer trainer for the Colorado Creative Industries’ Peer Assistance Network, and a member of the Western State Arts Federation’s (WESTAF) Board of Trustees. Tony is also an adjunct professor at Metro State College in Denver.
Maya Kucherskaya is a Russian novelist, fiction writer, literary critic and essayist. She has published two short story collections; the 2004 bestsellerModern Patericon: To Be Read in Times of Despair*; one novel Rain God*; a biography of Grand Duke Constantine Romanov, and a children’s adaptation of the New Testament. She holds a PhD in Literature from UCLA, and is a professor in the Department of Russian Literature at the Russian School of Economics. Maya’s awards include the 2007 Student Booker Prize and the 2006 Molodaya Gvardia Award. She contributes a column to the dailyVedomosti and cultural commentaries on radio broadcasts. (* English titles)
She came to Sitka through the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.
Christopher Preston is a writer and environmental philosopher. He holds degrees in Philosophy and Applied Ethics from the University of Oregon, Colorado State University, and University of Durham in England. He grounds his theoretical work in environmental ethics through his years working in Alaskan fishing and oil industries as well as with the National Park Service. Christopher’s work has been published in a wide range of environmental and philosophical journals. His first book, Grounding Knowledge: Environmental Philosophy, Epistemology and Place (University of Georgia, 2003) is an investigation of “sense of place” through a discussion of how place and mind interact. Most recently, he wrote Saving Creation: Nature and Faith in the Life of Holmes Rolston, III, a biography of the “father of environmental ethics” which deals with Rolston’s work at the intersection of science, theology, and the environment. Preston teaches part-time as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Montana in Missoula. He is also a part-time Tool Librarian for the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project.
Jaed Coffin; Brunswick, ME; Non-fiction
Jesse Blackadder; Australia; Fiction
Alice Addison; Australia; Screenwriter (Congratulations to Alice for her 2011 Screen Queensland Award for her film script adaptation of The Hunter.)
Gregory Hemming; Nelson, BC; Non-fiction
Annette Basalyga; Bridgeport, CT; Poetry
Melanie Almeder; Roanoke, VA; Poetry
Peter Grant; Australia; Non-fiction
Brendan Jones; Philadelphia, PA and Sitka, AK; Poetry and Fiction
Christopher Matthews; Ireland; Poetry (University of Iowa International Writing Program Resident 2004)
Patricia Klindienst; Guilford, CT; Non-fiction
Stefani Farris; Lander, WY; Fiction
Maeve Hitzenbuhler; Peru; Non-fiction
Natasha Tarpley; Chicago, IL; Fiction
Pamela Frierson; Pepeekeo, HI; Non-fiction
Hugh Ogden; Glastonbury, CT; Poetry
Janisse Ray; Reidsville, GA; Non-fiction
Louise Freeman-Toole; Pullman, WA; Non-fiction
Dana Wildsmith; Bethlehem, GA; Poetry
Mark Tredinnick; Australia; Non-fiction
Nikki Louis; Seattle, WA; Fiction, Playwright
Eva Saulitis; Homer, AK; Non-fiction
Nan Peacocke; Barbados; Fiction
Susan Zwinger; Langley, WA; Poetry, Non-fiction
Annick Smith; Bonner, MT; Non-fiction
Steve Semken; North Liberty, IA; Non-fiction
Susan Yoder Ackerman; Newport News, VA; Non-fiction
Alison Kelley; Homer, AK; Non-fiction
Harriet Harvey; Washington, DC; Non-fiction
Jennifer Sahn; South Egremont, MA; Non-fiction
Charlie Buck; Virginia City, NV; Fiction
Freeman House; Petrolia, CA; Non-fiction
Kathleen Dean Moore; Corvallis, OR; Non-fiction
Chip Rawlins; Jelm, WY; Non-fiction
Jean Anderson; Fairbanks, AK; Fiction
Migael Scherer; Lopez Island, WA; Non-fiction
Tom Jay; Chimacum, WA; Poetry, Non-fiction
Nancy Lord; Homer, AK; Non-fiction, Fiction
Marilyn Walker; Victoria, BC; Non-fiction
Rebecca Goodale; Freeport, ME; Book Artist
Suzanne Kanatsiz; Ogden, UT; Visual Artist
Chris Elfring; Takoma Park, MD; Non-fiction
Deborah O'Grady; Berkeley, CA; Photographer
Catherine Williams; Smithville, TX; Non-fiction
Joanne Mulcahy; Portland, OR; Non-fiction
Alison Deming; Tucson, AZ; Poetry, Non-fiction
Gary Lawless; Nobleboro, ME; Non-fiction
Andrew Peterson; Tucson, AZ; Fiction
Li Ching Cho; Albany, CA; Visual Artist
Sharon Gmelch; Oakville, CA; Non-fiction
Marc Hudson; Crawfordsville, IN; Poetry
Marilyn Bruya; Missoula, MT; Visual Artist