North Words Writers Symposium scheduled for May 25-28

Alaskan authors, from left, Dana Stabenow, John Straley, Emily Wall, Leigh Newman, Don Rearden, Seth Kantner, and visiting keynote speaker Mary Roach stand in front of a newly completed cabin at the Alderworks Alaska Writers & Artists Retreat in Dyea during the Northwords Writers Symposium in May 2015. Not shown is Northwords faculty member Christine Byl. In the background are Skagway band Skagway band Windy Valley Boys.

Alaskan authors, from left, Dana Stabenow, John Straley, Emily Wall, Leigh Newman, Don Rearden, Seth Kantner, and visiting keynote speaker Mary Roach stand in front of a newly completed cabin at the Alderworks Alaska Writers & Artists Retreat in Dyea during the Northwords Writers Symposium in May 2015. Not shown is Northwords faculty member Christine Byl. In the background are Skagway band Skagway band Windy Valley Boys.

For the Capital City Weekly

SKAGWAY — After years of pandering, fawning, and badgering from adoring Alaska readers, celebrated author Brian Doyle has finally consented to be the keynote speaker for the seventh annual North Words Writers Symposium in Skagway, Alaska May 25-28.

A self-described “hirsute shambling shuffling mumbling grumbling muttering muddled maundering meandering male being,” Doyle understates a smidge. Author of 13 books, editor of Portland Magazine, and an acclaimed speaker, the Northwest writer brings a range of expertise to symposium participants in Skagway’s historical setting. His works have appeared in Harper’s, Orion, and Atlantic Monthly, and recent novels about life on the rugged Northwest Coast, “Mink River” (2010) and “The Plover” (2014), are classics. Doyle’s latest novel, “Chicago,” appears in spring 2016.

A remarkable assembly of Alaska writers will accompany Brian Doyle at the 2016 symposium: Heather Lende, John Straley, Eowyn Ivey, Kim Heacox, Emily Wall, and Lynn Schooler. Together, the faculty promises an opportunity for participants to gain close-up experiences with successful writers.

Meanwhile, our Alaska authors have been busy! Kim Heacox’s great new novel, “Jimmy Bluefeather,” hit the stands Sept. 1 followed seven weeks later by a second book from National Geographic, “The National Parks: An Illustrated History.” Other recent faculty books include Lende’s “Finding the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer” and Straley’s “Cold Storage Alaska.” Returning faculty includes UAS professor-poet Emily Wall (“Liveaboard”) and Lynn Schooler (“The Blue Bear”). North Words will also welcome Chickaloon author Eowyn Ivey to the faculty, whose first book, “The Snow Child,” was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize.

As part of registration, participants and faculty ride the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad 18 fabled miles up narrow-gauge tracks to the Laughton Glacier trailhead. Participants choose a guided hike to the glacier or a short walk to a rustic cabin for a guided writing experience. On another day, symposium participants are shuttled to a cook-out party at Alderworks Alaska Writers & Artists Retreat near the ghost-town of Dyea. Registration also includes most meals, including an opening reception and keynote banquet.

The North Words staff includes bon vivant Buckwheat Donahue, Skagway tourism director Cody Jennings, visitor information specialist Wendy Anderson, editor-writer Jeff Brady, publisher Katrina Pearson, and professor-writer Daniel Lee Henry.

Registration to North Words is now open to all writers — aspiring or professional — who seek inspiration, direction, a flesh-and-blood social network, and fun. One or two credit hours may be earned through University of Alaska Southeast. Those interested are encouraged to sign up soon as the maximum is 50 participants. For more information, visit http://nwwriterss.com/ or call the Skagway Convention & Visitors Bureau at 907-983-2854.

In addition to the Municipality of Skagway CVB, major sponsors include Skagway Book Co./Alderworks Alaska LLC, White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, Shorefast Editions/Taku Graphics, Skagway Eagles & Auxiliary No. 25, Wings of Alaska, The Historic Skagway Inn and the Westmark Hotel.

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