Hunkering Down at Storyknife

Autumn sunset at Storyknife

Autumn has rolled into Storyknife, complete with rain, fog, and brilliant fields of fireweed. If you’re in Alaska, fall and winter can mean a respite from the manic seasons of spring and summer. We’re done with the endless light, the fishing and gardening and berry picking, and starting to move into the preserving, freezing, and storing portion of the year.

For a lot of us, this is the time when we catch up with our reading. Because most of us are staying safe by “hunkering down,” keeping to ourselves, and wearing our masks in public, there seems to be a lot more time to read this autumn. So, I’m going to take a moment this newsletter to remind you that you can support some of the writers who’ve already had an opportunity to stay at Storyknife, albeit in the Frederica Cabin before the rest of the cabins were built.

  • Start with Sharbari Zohra Ahmed’s short story “The Length in Six Strokes” in the New England Review. Then if you’re looking for a longer read, check out her debut novel Dust Under Her Feet, an historical novel about Calcutta in the 1940s under colonial rule. 
  • Check out Ching-in Chen’s beautiful poem “Spell for Safe Passage” on the Poetry Foundation website. Their book of poetry recombinant is a work of material critique, philosophically jarring in its use of syntax, sound, the erasures held in the stillness of its whitespace that again and again mimic a historical registry.
  • You can read one of Casandra Lopez‘s poems “Hottest June” at the Academy of American Poets website and another one, “When I Was a Young Girl” in the About Place Journal. The poems in her full-length collection Brother Bullet confront her relationships with violence, grief, guilt, and ultimately, endurance.
  • Ruby Hansen Murray’s creative nonfiction piece “Coyote Hunters” in World Literature Today is about how animals make their way in the modern world and where they live in memory. Also wonderful is her hybrid work about the environment, culture, and history in About Place Journal.
  • Bea Chang has a compelling essay about sports and the pandemic, “Everything’s Fine” in Broad Street Online. 
  • Megan Donnelly worked at Storyknife on this harrowing essay published in The Columbia Journal while she was still a teacher in Bush Alaska.
  • You can read a showcase of Mairéad Byrne’s work in her collected poems, You Have to Laugh. Start with this lovely poem in Dusie, “Early Morning, Dublin.”
  • Or enjoy an essay about albatross in The Statesider by Storyknife’s very first resident Kim Steutermann Rogers. Into volcanoes? She has a great article “How Volcanoes Reshape Ecosystems” in The Smithsonian.

Just as each one of these amazing writers had their time at Storyknife, so too, will others. We know it has been hard to wait. It’s hard for us, too.

Please know that our thoughts are with all of the people who make up the Storyknife community. We hope that you, your family, and those close to you are well and safe.

Take good care of yourselves. Your stories are important. You are important.

Take care,
Storyknife ED

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