Connotations

09-10 Connotations Cover

As the Island Institute’s programs grew, we wanted to chronicle the ways in which the ideas highlighted in Symposium discussions and the work of our Resident Fellows fostered a language of community and place, and to share those ideas with a wider audience. To those ends, in 1993 we began publishingConnotations, a small literary journal that we could send to Institute members and colleagues in and outside of Alaska.

Connotations is published semi-annually, and features poetry, essays, and stories related to the Institute’s mission, written by participants in our programs. In making selections for each issue,we have been reminded of the remarkable diversity among program participants, and have been honored to publish important new voices alongside the work of nationally-recognized writers.

Take a glimpse at our current issue or scroll through the Table of Contents and Editor Comments in back issues to get an idea of the extent of the work shared through ConnotationsBecome a member to receive your own copy of future issues, and purchase back issues of Connotations through Paypal.

 

 

Winter 2013

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Contents:
Memogram: Marjorie Gellhorn Sa’adah, Amore, Siblings: Ann Staley, The Great Arch, The Hand Held; Platform, Grasses, Cousins: Norman Campbell, Winter Morning Solid Stance: Ann Staley, Prodigal Daughters: Sierra Golden, Infrastructure: Jerry Martien, Notes on Resilience : Laurie Kutchins, Review of Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer: Kathleen Dean Moore Putting together an issue of Connotations always poses the question of connections between the included selections. Sometimes a theme is easy to identify in stories or poems by different writers. Sometimes underlying threads we didn’t expect surprise us. Sometimes we just relish the distinct gift of perspective each contributor offers. That is the case with this issue. We’ve borrowed a few of their words to trace the arc of lives and worlds and moral compass that are brought to light in these pages.. Primary witnesses: an apt description of all the contributors you’ll meet. The first of them, nonfiction writer Marjorie Sa’adah, begins this issue with the opening of her forthcoming book, At Home in the Going. That intriguing phrase comes from the world of horse racing and race tracks, a world she’s drawn into by meeting the people whose job it is to work in harmony with the elements of soil and weather and time and horses to maintain the surfaces of race tracks. A keen and compassionate observer, Sa’adah bears witness to the ways in which human interests and passions become complex, specialized, closed worlds within the larger context of our being. Surprise was a thread followed by poet Ann Staley and artist Norman Campbell who worked together for a month this past fall during the Island Institute’s first collaborative residency. Long-time friends, they had never had the chance to use each other’s work as inspiration, as prompts for fresh approaches, images, lines. Included here are examples of both stimulus and response, though the full effect of Campbell’s work can only be appreciated by seeing his extraordinary full-sized originals. Gritty adventure was what lured Sierra Golden’s mother out of the South to the fishing docks of Ketchikan, Alaska. And it is gritty adventure, in part, that lures Sierra herself to spend her summers in Southeast Alaska crewing on her father’s commercial seiner. Losing the calluses on her hands after each season is like losing acquaintances she wanted more time to know. But the Southern graces her mother grew up with are not lost on Sierra. Her version of Southern hospitality might include smoked salmon instead of cornbread, but it is hospitality nonetheless. Prodigal daughters two, finding their home wherever it might be. Remnants. Bridges. Jerry Martien’s meander through mossy wooden decay in the thriving forest understory triggers his musings about infrastructure—what is put in place, whether it makes sense, what lasts. Where does the necessary underlying structure really lie in a time of societal and planetary change? What might be the most useful bridges to an uncertain future? Somehow, walking in the woods along small sparkling streams takes on more importance. Survival is at the heart of poet and essayist Laurie Kutchins’ “Notes on Resilience.” Her reflections were written in July 2013 in preparation for a conversation with eight other women writers about the notion of a literature of resilience. Planners of the gathering had thought the conversation might generate new cultural stories in response to climate change, but as Kutchins shows us, the need for resilience surfaces just as strongly in response to other individual and societal crises. It is at the heart of healing. “The maligned wants to be loved and become aligned with love,” she says. Imagine what that could do for our troubled world. A braided gift. Kathleen Dean Moore and Robin Kimmerer were among the other writers who joined Kutchins for the literature of resilience conversation. Both of their important voices sing out in Moore’s review of Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer’s latest book (Milkweed Editions, October 2013). The book offers readers a braided gift of “splendid writing, fascinating scientific and traditional knowledge, and important stories of gratitude and challenge.” Moore goes on to note, “What this becomes, this braid of sweetgrass, is a worldview, supple and strong and very beautiful.” We offer you all of these primary witnesses and their gifts to enjoy

Summer 2013

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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

Fall 2012

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Contents:
Presilience: Of Eggs & Baskets: Kathleen Dean Moore, Up Here: Rebecca Hartwell, Chilkat Style: Daniel Lee Henry, Predawn / All Day Fishing, Cleaning Salmon / The Homecoming: Sierra Golden, Sleep Walking / Grace: Cedar Marie, Paradoxes of Sorrow: Gary Holthaus, From a Bridge Overlooking Indian River / Sitka Window / Berry Picking on Harbor Mountain: Robert Lee, Bird / Elderberries / Eleven: Liz McKenzie, Cover: "Silver Bay Midnight": by Lara Kaltenstein, "Recently, the Daily Sitka Sentinel printed a short announcement of a talk to be given by Nelson Kanuk, an 18-year-old student from the Yupik village of Kipnuk in Southwest Alaska, about his suit against the Alaska Department of Natural Resources over climate change. Intrigued, we went to hear what he had to say. Nelson is one of six young Alaskan plaintiffs who aim to force the State of Alaska to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as a means of protecting the state's natural resources as required by Alaska's constitution. Nelson and his fellow plaintiffs are being represented in court byOur Childrens Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit that has filed suits for young plaintiffs in nine states. The Earth's atmosphere is a part of the public trust, they argue, and governments have a duty to protect it... ...In July, 2012, the Institue hosted Resilient Communities: A Form of Creative Resistance, a three-day roundtable discussion... If we'd known Nelson Kanuk's story then, we would have highlighted it. Resilience is all about the capacity to adapt to change. It can incorporate all kinds of creative means of adaptation as it steers, individuals, human communities, and ecosystems not just toward survival but the ability to thrive. Nelson's family and ancestors have thrived for decades on the tundra and waters surrounding his village. Nelson and his young brother deserve the right to continue their culture's lifeways in their ancestral home. Whether of not they will succeed remains to be seen. Planetary threats from climate change are already taking their toll. Last summer, try as we might to keep our roundtable conversations focused on creative resistance and adaptation, we were faced again and again with issues of loss. We couldn't avoid the shadows of helplessness, fear, despair. And still, another impulse moved us forward. Poet Wallace Stevens once called it "the necessary angel"--the power of the human imagination to push back against the forces of reality. It is our capacity for innovative thinking, the ability to reshape the stories that define our lives. This necessary angel is at the heart of resilience in human lives and communities. It lit up Nelson Kanuk's eyes, and is present in all the work featured in this issue of Connotations...

Spring 2012

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Contents:
Getting Perspective: Katey Schultz, Drowned Trying: Janée Baugher, Blink / Sustenance: Peggy Shumaker, Ruth / shrapnel shards on blue water: lê thi diem thúy, Cover: "Four for a Birth" by Lisa Teas, "Along the little stream that runs through the woods outside the Island Institute office, bright yellow hooded skunk cabbage flowers have emerged from the ground, adding their unmistakable musky fragrance to the slowly warming spring air. This sign of renewal is among the first in this northern temperate rain forest, and is as welcome as the returning light. A sense of refreshed energy seems to permeate the brightening days. Neighbors are out in their gardens, putting new shingles on their roof, sharing the first king salmon of the season. Its oily sweetness melting in your mouth is a reminder of generosity, of bounty, of privilege, of resurgence. after winter’s darkness and cold, spring’s prospects offer vital perspective. “Getting Perspective” is the title of the story by Katey Schultz that opens this spring issue of Connotations. The perspective that Lillis Young, her protagonist, is looking for, however, is of a different character than that offered by our promising change of seasons. Lillis is seeking perspective on loss... In a comment to us, [lê thi diem] thúy recalled John Berger’s observation—-that absence can be as keen as presence. Focusing ourselves on those absences can be useful, can keep us honest. It is important, for example, to acknowledge that loss and absence on a significant scale are always given costs of war, whatever it’s ostensible purpose. But even in peacetime, focusing on absence reminds us of what once belonged, what once had a critical part, what once provided wisdom. Absence need not mean something or someone is gone forever. Instead, living mindfully with absence can help to keep us whole."

Fall 2011

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Refugia of the Imagination: Kathleen Dean Moore, Steelies: Rebecca Conrad Lawton, Remnant / Newsies / At This Moment: Carlos Reyes, The Emperor's New Clothes: Farhad Khoyratty, Cover: Laura Kaltenstein, "A fast-moving storm zeroed in on Sitka recently, its west winds gusting to more than 60 miles per hour, wreaking havoc in one of our harbors. Boat owners scrambled to secure their boats and help each other hold things fast, but the heaving, thrashing chaos snapped mooring lines, popped fenders, broke cleats, sank two boats, and set others adrift. No one expected the force of the gale. Few remembered seeing anything like it here. In the storm's aftermath, I took a walk in a local park at dusk, seeking quiet, calm. I found it along the river that runs through the trees, its water dark and clear, its constant rambling flow a steady shushing sound. Across the nearest channel, clustered against a grassy bank, a dozen mallards silently plied the shallows where the moving water slowed and lingered... Refuge: a place of safety. These ducks sought it. I sought it. The boat owners in the harbor sought it. As global changes press upon us, refuge will become more and more important. But refuge is not only a place of safety. It is a place where creativity is free to express itself and new things can emerge. It is the place where we test our firmest commitments to see how they hold ground. It is the place where we allow ourselves to laugh at ourselves, to try out fledgling ideas. It is the place from which we push back against the pressures of reality. It is a source of well-being so critical to our own resilience. The pieces in this issue touch into these notions of refuge..."

Spring 2011

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The Field Marker: Alice Pung, I Find and Name the Lost Child: Sheila Nickerson, What Seas, What Shores?: Kate Lidfors Miller, The Immediate Jewel: Jean Anderson, Cover: Original hand-drawn art by Nanna Borchert, "Sometimes, an issue of Connotations comes together around an obvious theme. As we chose pieces for this issue, however, we didn't have such a theme in mind. It wasn't until we put the four quite distinct stories in place that we realized just how suitably one followed the other. We were treated, once again, to that mysterious emergence of relationship between seemingly disparate things... We offer these stories, fictional and true, with the hope that you'll find them to be good company, their common threads linking them not only to each other, but to the ever-present work of ferreting out the truths of our lives."

Summer 2010

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Run to Cadiz: Yvonne Mozée, Cool / Blue Black: John Straley, The Americans: lê thi diem thúy, Grown Children: Stefani Farris, Cover Photograph: Yvonne Mozée, "April 25th was a fine day for cake. It was Yvonne Mozée's birthday. She would have been a lively eighty-six years old and would have celebrated among friends with a piece of her favorite--chocolate, maybe, or lemon chiffon. She had a taste for good cake. The air would have been sprinkled with her wry jokes about having just been released from Lemon Creek Prison or her stint dancing on tables at the Pioneer Bar... Yvonne's generosity was also one of her trademarks--and the reason we remembered her with cake this last April 25th. It had been eight months since she passed away. We missed her, kept expecting to see her walking down the sidewalk past our office. On an April Monday I was rifling through the weekend's accumulated email messages. By chance I checked my Junk Mail file and saw a message whose subject was "donation." Sure, I thought, as had the filter on my computer. But the sender, Bonnie Brand, was a slightly familiar name, so I opened the message, not ever expecting the news that Yvonne had left a gift to the Island Institute. Bonnie, her niece and executrix, was trying to contact me to let me know. A few hours later she followed up her message with a phone call. It was then that the lump rose in my throat. For our small organization, Yvonne's gift was significant. It spoke volumes about her belief in the importance of the Institute's work. A celebration with cake was Bonnie's suggestion. For us, it didn't take long to think about acknowledging our deep gratitude and fondness for Yvonne in these pages. Though one photograph and a short essay represent only a fraction of her talent, we couldn't be more honored to offer them to you..."

Winter 2009/2010

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Prelude to Care / Watering Guadalupe's Rose: Jerry Martein, Three Prose Poems: Vivian Faith Prescott, Old Stories from the New World: Susan Power, Guadalupe Lopez Blanco: Gary Nabhan, Fixing a Hole in the Ocean: Kim Heacox, "In recent months we have come to realize just how much our human lives are involved with caretaking. We care for children and family, lovers and friends, pets of all kinds; for houses and hot tubs, lawns and trees, roses and rhododendrons; for potatoes and carrots and lettuce in our gardens... And through the bustle of the fast-paced, information-laden, consumer-driven world in which we currently live, if we're conscientious enough and pay sufficient attention, we care for ourselves. One arena of care critical to our well being--one that is often ignored--is care for language, care for words. Writing is the opportunity, the task, the pleasure, the focused work of taking care of words, taking care with words. Reading, the other side of that coin, is taking care to absorb words, to feel and sense their meaning. Together, these two activities--writing and reading--help us take care of ourselves as humans. Both writing and reading are privileges, skills that we too easily take for granted, too easily use carelessly. Both are sources of truth and deception, and we must take care to distinguish one from the other. Before the written word there were stories, told by people who took care with word and detail to ensure the stories stayed alive and helped clarify the intricacies and complexities of our human lives. Our story-telling habit is one of the most durable in human history. We are as dependent as ever on stories to help us make sense of our experience of the world. We now put them in writing or convey them to each other electronically or just spin a good yarn when we're with friends, but we can't help ourselves. Stories are a means of caring for ourselves. They help us stay alive."

Spring/Summer 2009

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Contents:
Myth, Poetry and the Land: Gary Snyder, The Old Hackleman Place, An Obituary: Ellen Waterston, Learning the Grammar of Animacy: Robin Wall Kimmerer, Functional Cultures and Structural Cultures: Gary Holthaus, "A favorite book on the Island Institute's shelves is one called The Power of Limits: Proportional Harmonies in Nature, Art, and Architecture. It's author, György Doczi, wrote the book as an elderly man. He was an architect who had spent his life working with proportions, seeing relationships between patterns and forms in nature and the patterns and forms in human creations... Two things we like about Doczi's premise. One is the promising aspect of it, that limitations can be imbued with creativity. The other is that it acknowledges fundamental linkages between human endeavors and the world that is greater than ourselves. The writers included in this issue of Connotations make those same critical linkages...Each of them challenges us to rediscover proper proportions, to re-imagine the way we think about and live in the world."

Winter 2008-2009

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Black Friday Invitation: Eva Saulitis, The Death of Darwinism: Christopher Preston, Gears / Pieces: Annette Basalyga, Prophet at Yandeistakye: Two Excerpts: Daniel Henry, "In June, 2009, the Island Institute will host its 25th Sitka Symposium, quite a feat for a small organization like ours. But in the face of the challenges facing our country and the world today, events like these are small occasions, special to the relative few who will attend. Yes, this is so, yet the legacy of ideas the Sitka Symposium has generated in its twenty-five years is no small one. And many of them are ideas the world needs just now--questions we must face squarely, concepts we must examine closely, notions we may need to leave behind, others we may need to imagine into being: How is it that we can best live together in community? How can we best honor and respect the places, the environment we inhabit? How might our stories help us understand essential truths about our human nature, about our relationships to all of nature? FrameWork: Shaping an Enduring Human Culture--the 2009 Sitka Symposium theme--poses essential questions about the characteristics of a sustainable culture. To work on that culture's frame is to consider its parameters and what it holds--the full meaning of our human lives and the power given to that meaning by a sense of appropriate limits. If we cultivate an awareness of both meaningfulness and limitation, how might that affect our choices and actions in daily living and in the distances that constitute our lifetimes? The essays and poems in this issue of Connotations are about some of those choices and actions..."

Spring/Summer 2008

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On Natural Beauty Alison Hawthorne Deming The "Commons" Sense of John Wesley Powell William deBuys The Life and Death of a Commons Vernita Katchatag Herdman A Huckleberry Testament Don Snow "...Here in Sitka we've seldom had cause to think much about having enough water. Adequate? It rains 100 inches a year and our reservoirs hold what seems to be an inexhaustible supply. Little cause to worry, or so it seems. But we're coming to realize that Sitka has a remarkable resource, a legal right to more than we need--a valuable commodity widely bough and sold in the global marketplace...We find ourselves caught in a thorny question: should water be treated simply as commercial asset or as an inalienable right, essential to life, integral to the commons? ...We are please to offer four essays by the 2008 Symposium faculty to illustrate some of the central issues of the commons. Be they tensions between public and private interests, land issues, or the survival of cultural traditions, the challenges are clear..."

Fall/Winter 2007

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Thank You for the River: Mathilde Walter Clark, Strange Orange World: Tom Dreyer, Half Children: Jaed Muncharoen Coffin, A Change of Weather: Jesse Blackadder, Jackalope Dreams: An Excerpt: Mary Clearman Blew, "Readers of Connotations in the greater world outside Sitka can't be expected to know much about the Island Institute's residencies for writers. But if they've taken note of the short contributor bios, at least they will have seen frequent references to this program. We take the opportunity here to say something more about it since four of the five writers whose work is included in this issue reflect the talent and diversity the program has brought to Sitka..."

Spring 2007

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The Necessity of Beauty: Tom Jay, An Understated Sacredness: Rina Swentzell, Pursuit / You Can't Have It All: Barbara Ras, Beauty: Scott Russell Sanders, The Truth of the Barnacles: Rachel Carson and the Moral Significance of Wonder: Kathleen Deen Moore, "This issue of Connotations provides a preview of sorts to the 23rd Sitka Symposium, On the Edge: The Necessity of Beauty. Because we live in a time when the world seems dominated by violence and degradation, we badly need to find relief from so much that is bleak and depressing. Past Symposium themes have posed challenging and sometimes troubling issues that defy solution. This year we have chosen to concentrate on what is too seldom considered--the underlying order and harmony that shape the natural world and inform the best of art and human work. We don't see beauty as a simple antidote to the ills of the world; we do believe it is an essential aspect of our experience of the world. It offers positive perspectives on the human condition and fruitful sources of hope and joy. There are stories, many stories, that need to be told..."

Fall 2006

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Nonviolence is Jihad: Rabia Terri Harris, La Luz: Joanne Mulcahy, Moon Variations / Water Histories / Ode to an Egg: Melanie Almeder, Letter to Emily: Eva Saulitis, Primer / Ice Fishing / Losing a Woodpecker: Annette Basalyga, The Necessity for Beauty: Gary Holthaus, "The 2006 Sitka Symposium, Radical Compassion / Across the Great Divides, posed a challenge that we have been pursuing for some time, albeit on a rather modest scale. The question of how to move ourselves past the classic divisions of "us" and "them" began for us in our small town of Sitka where the divides are publicly known and well-ingrained in people's memories. If you know what side of an issue someone takes, it's easy to presume that you know a lot of other things about them. All proponents of development are this way, all advocates for conservation are that. It is much easier to assume an adversary than not. This Sitka microcosm is magnified many times over elsewhere in the country and around the world where conflicts with much graver repercussions fill news headlines each day... And yet compassion begins with a simple effort to understand--to open our minds to other ways of seeing. Such is the purpose of this publication..."

Spring / Summer 2005

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Maysie: Stefani Farris, Photovoltaics / Nowhere Else / If I Could: Mary Mercier, Timber: Mark Tredinnick, After the Aleut / Cormorant Killer / The Hardness Scale: Jerah Chadwick, Jack 1942: Natasha Tarpley, "After too long of a hiatus, we are more than pleased to bring you this issue of Connotations. It is being published on the verge of the 21st Sitka Symposium, its theme, If This if Your Land, Where Are Your Stories? taken from a book by that title by our friend and colleague Ted Chamberlin. "We need to understand the power of stories," says Chamberlin. "Our lives depend on it." ...We share Ted Chamberlin's sense of the essential power of stories. The Island Institute's programs aim to engage stories in ways that might help people understand both differences and shared beliefs. Whether working at a local level or trying to grasp global political and social realities, we find that stories offer avenues to possibility. In almost any storyline, whether that of a friend or an adversary, we can find some element that we know from our own experience. If we allow ourselves to approach these shared openings with an authentic yearning for understanding, we may find ourselves engaged with others in ways that allow us to move beyond the classic division of "them" and "us" to ground where, collectively, we gain keener insight into what it means to be human. This issue of Connotations offers stories--in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction--that touch the vein of what it means to be human. They connect us to family, to places, to history; to adventure to suffering, to hope; to truths that link us fundamentally to each other and to the greater world we live in..."

Winter 2002-2003

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The Promise of Freshness: On Poetry, Politics, and Place: Christopher Merrill, Beyond, Behind the Totems; January 2003, Sitka National Historic Park / Lecture on the Tides: Hugh Ogden, Pioneers: A Cabin, A Paradox, A Friendship: Kim Heacox, "To say that these are anxious and fearful times is an understatement. As these words are written our country has begun a war whose consequences cannot be comprehended. The decisions that have been made by the United States government will go down in history, and all the world will live with the consequences. This issue of Connotations has a lot to do with human conflict, on the killing grounds and within our nature. It has also to do with the struggle to articulate something that has meaning and hope in the darkness of these times. The work of the three writers presented here moves us from Bosnia to Sitka and to Glacier Bay, Alaska. We are reminded to pay attention to various forms of land-grab and land-use, whether through brutal military adventure or our relationship to the environment. Diverse as these works are in subject matter, they have in common a deep reverence for the natural world... Faced with so much that seems beyond our control, we find ourselves turning to two forces within our reach: the creativity of the human imagination and the power of compassion. Each imaginative act coupled with compassion strengthens the possibilities for moving us beyond the darkness of human conflict toward the possibility of new understanding, the promise of freshness. It is in that spirit that we offer the poems and narratives in this issue of Connotations."

Winter / Spring 2002

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Springtime in the Country / Prayer for Our Woods Before Logging / Fine Weather / Any Dog: Dana Wildsmith, Iron Man: Nan Peacocke, Butchering Day / Beneath the Bridge / Thaw / Mother, My Mother: Christine Marie, River of Life Gospel / Marimba and Wind in July / the woman in the moon / Watching for: Angels Emily Wall, "We have touted before in these pages the metaphor provided to us by poet Wallace Stevens of the human imagination as "the necessary angel"--necessary, as he point out, because it gives us a means of pushing back against the pressures of reality. The poetry and fiction in this issue of Connotations serve that purpose, both for the women writers who offer their words and for those of us who have the opportunity to read their work..."

Spring 2001

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Raven Woman: Migael Scherer, Findling: Lessons from the Glaciers of Alaska: Kim Heacox, And Suddenly Nothing Happened: Eva Saulitis, "I had a chance to talk with a raven the other day. I stepped out of a local store onto the small back porch of the building and there he was, sitting on the rail of the handicapped access ramp. He was no more than five feet to the side of me, just a little lower than eye level, black as could be, and handsome... On my walk back to the office, I remember the story I'd once heard--that as creator, Raven taught the Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska how to speak, that because Raven has no lips, the sounds he taught were tongue and throat and moving air sounds...I thought about how, according to Tlingit legend, Raven gave shape to the world and how much language gives shape to our lives. I thought about the language of stories, stories that define us and teach us and heal us and frighten us and comfort us--allow us to understand ourselves. I had no idea if my raven tutor uttered those sounds with anything particular in mind, but could imagine them appropriately interjected, taking on meaning in various contexts--a creator's comments, hints, exclamations about our human dilemmas and joys and fear. This issue of Connotations features three very human stories of exploration and understanding. As I read them, I imagine Raven's voice still nudging at the shape of our lives, still saying, "Hmm. ...Nnnot quite. ...No! No! ...There you go. ...Yes."

Summer 2000

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The Third Raven: Susan Yoder Ackerman, Happy Stories / Because You Asked Me...: John Straley, Broken/Unbroken Places: Helen Frost, Hunger for Hooligan: Hank Lentfer, Nevada Interlude: Carolyn Servid, "In this summer issue of Connotations, we find ourselves focusing on stories and places and the people that inhabit both. Lively conjunctions, those--the coming together of aspects of human lives that surface again and again as having utmost importance. And what better subject for summer when we are often visiting favorite haunts or rambling our way through new country on a vacation or gathering around the barbeque with family and friends, telling stories as a means of catching up with ourselves and each other, a means of rooting people and places and events in memory so that we can call on them again when we need them. And need them we will if our lives are to be whole..."

Fall 1999

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There is a Season: Vernita Katchatag Herdman, Diamond Diary: Ellen Bielawski, Swimmer / Letters to Cynthia / Primigravida / Watching Them From the Porch Above the Garden: Caroline Davis Goodwin, Smoke: Vernita Katchatag Herdman, "...here in the north, minutes of daylight are hoarded and counted like silver. Our seasons aren't marked as much by color as they are by the extent of the darkness, and the dramatic nature of the change from summer to winter is a factor that figures into the psyche of most anyone who lives in these climes. Couple those extreme shifts between darkness and light with the remoteness of most of the communities in the north, and you begin to understand some other things about Northerners. Consider Alaska, a state one-quarter the size of the whole continental United States, with only seven main highways. There are far more communities accessible only by plane or boat than there are communities you can get to by road. The state population is just over half a million and only six cities or towns have more than six thousand residents. The vastness of land in between these peopled niches is difficult to comprehend, and the dominance of that landscape is the backdrop for any community. Here, perhaps more than anywhere, people are aware of their limitations in the face of the forces of nature. Circumstances like these can't help but affect human relationships. People interact with each other and depend on each other in different ways than most folks elsewhere. The indigenous people who have lived in the north for centuries have had long-standing traditions that directly addressed their culture's relationship with the land. Protocols for human interaction paralleled protocols for appropriate behavior towards the animals and plants they hunted and gathered. Whole communities relied necessarily on this set of right relationships for survival. They were also comfortable within those relationships. Many of us who live here now have yet to attain that level of comfort, have yet to adapt ourselves to such a set of protocols. Instead, the standards for living and the resource and economic demands that we have imposed on this northern country have dramatically altered those long-held indigenous protocols. This issue of Connotations features work by three women who are lifelong Alaskans...Each writer knows the north country's darkness and light, each opens wide both our eyes and hearts."

Spring 1999

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Hunger: Joanne Mulcahy, Song for Solstice / Nightwatch Off Aleutian Shores / The Return of Geese: Louise Gallop, An Interview with David Orr: K. Lauren de Boer, Animals and People: "The Human Heart in Conflict with Itself": Pattiann Rogers, "Some friends stopped by the Island Institute office a few weeks back just to say hello. They are successful entrepreneurs with a mail order business that ships specialty handcrafted wooden weaving shuttles to customers all around the world... Our friends noted that if the trends in small business and mail order shopping continue, in ten or fifteen years many of the stores in our small downtown area will have little reason to exist. In fact, they went on to suggest, the global marketplace can quite effectively diminish the need for people to live in any particular place or belong to a particular community Without the necessary economic ties, a community, if it were going to hold together at all, would exist simply for social reasons. We suddenly found ourselves feeling quite uneasy. This diffusion of traditional community bonds wasn't a picture of a future that was very reassuring. It brought us back to notions we've been exploring here at the Institute, notions about centers that hold. As we see it, these centers form around particular aspects of our human experience, some quite private, others necessarily public. They form around our need to belong, to feel that we are part of something that matters, that we ourselves matter. They form around the love we feel for a place, a landscape. They form around our inner quest--spiritual, intellectual, and emotional--for meaning in our lives. They form around our dependence on each other for the things we need to live well--satisfying jobs, safe neighborhoods, strong educational institutions, responsive governments, healthy environments, and--yes, stable economies, local economies firmly rooted in the places we inhabit. We can't afford to give up our customary and traditional community bonds. We can improve on them, but we can't leave them behind. There is too much at stake. In this issue of Connotations, friends and colleagues explore different aspects of the centers that anchor their lives, our lives... "

Summer 1998

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Prometheus Moth: Kathleen Dean Moore, Something Drives Up: Gary W. Hawk, Looking East: James H. Drury, Early Spring / An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles: Melinda Mueller, Seeing with Both Eyes--A Talk from the 1998 Sitka Symposium: John Daniel, "...The Island Institute's work relies heavily on human imagination. The critical part of our mission is our effort to encourage creative thinking about how people can best live together in communities and best inhabit the places we live. Locally and regionally this means working within Southeast Alaska communities where individuals, families, and businesses are coping with uncertainties brought about by a period of socioeconomic change. It is all too easy to feel desperate in times like these, all too easy to resort to the quickest fix that comes along. In the face of such uncertainty, the Institute's role is twofold: 1) to challenge people to bend their imaginations to the task of defining and designing the long-term community well-being, and 2) to offer publicly some of those imaginative structures Ted [Chamberlin] talks about--essays, stories, poems--which have the power to nourish the human spirit, "that part of us which invents and discovers, as well as listens and watches and waits, and hopes and prays." This issue of Connotations is, we believe, full of such nourishment..."

Summer 1997

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Reading Artifacts: Ursula Franklin, E. U. Washburn's Story: Uncle Abe: David Lee, Ways of Seeing, Ways of Knowing: Gary Holthaus, Two Poems: Tina Johnson, "Scientist Ursula Franklin opened her presentation at the 1997 Sitka Symposium by saying that our human wish and need to know comes from our need to cope--with any number of situations. With this simple statement delivered with her characteristic clarity, Ursula pointed out that the Symposium's broad theme, Ways of Seeing, Ways of Knowing, did not just pose a range of possibilities for how we see the world and understand our lives, but was tied to our very survival. That survival ranges from day to day decisions to plans and dreams of our individual lives to the long-term well-being of our communities. Perhaps we had never thought of the work of the Island Institute quite so literally as an effort to help people survive. But coping can be a complicated business sometimes, and may require a willingness to ask hard questions that don't have easy answers--to come by or to accept. Some of those questions are very private. Others are necessarily public and involve the nature of our connections to other people and the places we live. Some can be addressed by the objective inquiry of science, as Ursula went on to describe for us. Others have meaning only when tied to direct experience. Still others need the ardent attention of our imaginations. As colleague and poet David Lee noted in his remarks that followed Ursula's, poetry is a concentration and distillation of language and imagination that allows us to cope as well as survive. It allows us to save ourselves... The ideas, stories, and poems of last June's Symposium provided that kind of focus for our attention. They reverberate in our minds--and are likely to for some time. It isn't possible to convey them all, but we've captured a few and offer them for your reflection..."

Winter 1997

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Deep Dreaming on Qikiqtaruk: Dan Henry, Come Out Gentle Voice: Martha Demientieff, Profligate: Jean Anderson, A Politics Appropriate to Place: Don Snow, God Talks to His Cronies: Gary Holthaus, "...Changes in our journal--in appearance, in the image we present--have prompted us to muse about what is real and what is imagined in the human experience. We are reminded of how difficult it is to find where truth lies. We live in a country and in a time dominated by relative values rather than principles of faith or reason, yet we find ourselves and our neighbors full of passionate conviction about various issues ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. If pressed, we might argue that our position is based on an obvious truth or, more likely, that nothing can be proved because one opinion is as valid as another. But such responses leave something to be desired; they feel inadequate, incomplete... So, then, what are we to do? How should we behave as individuals and as members of our various communities of association and interest? Expanding our knowledge when we so seldom use information wisely seems pointless. But we are reminded by T.S. Eliot that We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time. At the Island Institute, we take Eliot seriously and want to understand what it might mean to 'know our place for the first time'..."