The University of Alaska Southeast’s literary and arts journal is set to release Friday after one of the most tumultuous years in recent memory.
Receiving more than 200 submissions from around Southeast Alaska, this year’s edition of Tidal Echoes will capture the spirit of the times in amber, to be looked back on when things are better.
“I’m super excited for this year’s edition,” said junior editor and UAS student Emily Bowman in a phone interview. “It’s such a time capsule of the last year we all shared.”
This year’s release of the annual publication had more than 150 writing submissions and 75 art pieces vying for a spot, Bowman said. Traditional Tlingit weaver Lily Hope and naturalist writer Hank Lentfer were the featured artist and author, respectively. The spread of the pandemic complicated but didn’t stop the process, Bowman said.
“Usually, there’s a lot more in person interaction,” Bowman said. “When we’re looking at the manuscript we can spread it out over our faculty advisor’s office, which could obviously not happen this year.”
The publication eased restrictions on some submissions, allowing for UAS students who had been isolated in other parts of Alaska to submit. The release party, which is also usually a big in-person event, will be online this year, Bowman said, with the featured artists and college leadership speaking and answering questions about their respective work. Purchasing the publication will also look different.
“We’re doing all our online transactions through the (Juneau Arts and Humanities Council) website and it’s a pickup at Egan Library (at UAS),” Bowman said. “Kindred Post and Hearthside are going to be carrying them, as well as smaller independent bookstores across the state.”
Bowman had sought a position with Tidal Echoes for a long time, she said. When an opportunity came up to apply for the position of junior editor, which typically gets promoted to senior editor the next publication cycle, she took it. Erika Bergren is currently serving as senior editor.
“It’s been really enlightening. I first heard about Tidal Echoes when I was probably 14. My old guitar teacher told me about the journal. It’s kind of been a dream of mine to be the editor,” Bowman said. “I want to go into publishing and editing childrens and young adult books.”
Each of the featured artists submitted a number of works for consideration in the publication. Hope, whose focus is Ravenstail and Chilkat weaving, submitted a number of masks sewn in that style.
“It was very pandemic-themed. I did a lot of work last year on video content and behind the scenes content. The pandemic masks were grounded in the tradition of Chilkat weaving,” Hope said in a phone interview. “I wove probably 13 of those masks in 2020 through the pandemic and supported my family.”
Hope, previously featured in Tidal Echoes for her writing when she was a student at UAS, said she didn’t expect to be featured in this year’s publication. She recommends that everyone making it as an artist submit as often as possible.
“That’s so much my philosophy as an artist, to encourage the artists, to anyone who’s pausing or doubting that they’re an artist: you can submit to these literary journals or magazines,” Hope said. “You are a maker. You are making things. We want to see your work.”
The idea of artists and people supporting and lifting each other up is core to her identity, Hope said, while the pandemic has forced her to focus take steps she might not have in the past.
“The fear of not making it has motivated me to be more bold. I have reached out to at least one museum a month. If i’m going to survive this and feed my family, I need to step out of my comfort zone. To be bold, be fearless,” Hope said. “Elevating other artists, foundational to who I am as an artist. As one rises, we all rise together. We are rising together, as many people as I can reach.”
Lentfer submitted a number of works, including articles published in magazines such as Orion and his recently released book “Raven’s Witness: The Alaska Life of Richard K. Nelson,” a biography of Nelson, a naturalist focused on Alaska and friend of Lentfer’s.
“He’s a pretty well-known writer. He was the Alaska state writer. He was a radio producer. He was really a storyteller through a bunch of different formats. His lineage of storytelling was collecting stories from across cultures and even across species,” Lentfer said. “It’s an odd project to do a biography of someone who’s close to you.”
Reading Nelson’s journals, which spanned over 50 years and clocked in at more than 8,000 pages, Lentfer spent three seasons working on the project.
“It was three winters of active work,” Lentfer said. “I can’t write during the summers, I’m way too antsy to write this summer. I’m out doing field recordings.”
Nelson died in 2019 before the final publication, but he had a chance to read and sign off on the manuscript. Nelson’s stories that he gathered of common causes and togetherness were powerful and a necessary reinforcement in these times of widespread upheaval, Lentfer said.
“He died in the fall of 2019, but he read a draft of the manuscript. He was fortunately very grateful of my portrayal of his life,” Lentfer said. “We were dear friends, so i’ve just been grateful to keep my friend’s voice alive. It’s less his name than the importance of the stories he gathered. His stories were really about the things we have in common. We can’t share stories frequently enough that remind us we’re in this together.”
Where to go and get it
The publication will go up for purchase Friday afternoon at the JAHC website, https://www.jahc.org/, and will also be available at local bookstores such as Kindred Post, Hearthside Books, Alaska Robotics, and the City Museum store. To watch the release party, scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, check out the Tidal Echoes Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TidalEchoes