Saturday, June 12, 2010
North Woods Writers Symposium
It's nearly summer solstice, time for writers' workshops in Alaska. I'm just back from the North Words Writers Symposium in Skagway. If you weren't there you missed out on a wonderful opportunity, although I had my doubts when I flew to Juneau then took the ferry to Skagway. Registration procedures for the conference had been less than smooth. In fact on-line registration didn't work at all, so only the truly committed mailed in their registration. As a result, only thirty people attended and less than half were participants. Never before have I been at a conference where faculty was in the majority and participants were treated like VIPs. I sat next to some of the top writers in the state and spoke with them personally about their views on writing. Faculty attendees included: Buckwheat Donahue, Dana Stabenow, Jeff Brady, Elisabeth Dabney, Peggy Shumaker and Joe Usibelli, Kaylene Johnson, Sherry Simpson, Nita Nettleton, Dave Hunsaker, Tim Woody, Kim Heacox, Dan Henry, and Andromeda Romano-Lax.
I had the opportunity to hear Dana Stabanow giving Nick Jans advice. I went hiking with Tim Woody, Dan Henry, and Andromeda Ramono-Lax. In the excitement, I tended to forget who was faculty and who were participants. I particularly enjoyed Tresham Gregg who does puppet theatre out of Haines, Lisa Weissler who writes dystopian science fiction, Dan Davidson an editor from Dawson, and Art Chance an expert in history from Juneau.
The town and people of Skagway went out of their way to make us feel welcome. We had excellent meals at The Stowaway Café, the Red Onion, and Poppies. Poppies is located in a beautifully maintained garden with a model train running through it.
The conference included a train excursion aboard The White Pass & Yukon Route Railway. This narrow gauge railroad wound through steep gorges and over breath taking drops above raging turquoise rivers. I was torn between the stunning views of peaks, arêtes, and glacial tarns, and the writers discussing journalism, memoire writing, Alaska history, and fiction.
I hate to write up a blog entry that points how the rest of you missed out. Nah nah nana nah nah. But not all is lost. Next year, The North Words Writers Symposium will be in Dawson. I'm going. Either driving or flying to Dawson should be as interesting as visiting Skagway.
See you there. Lizzie Newell