S268. Isolation and Community: How We Write It, How We Live It

Room 602/603, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
Saturday, March 1, 2014
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm


Writing may be a lonely pursuit, but the tension between isolation and community evokes larger truths that emerge in our stories. What is the distinction between solitude and loneliness? In what ways does a survival culture both isolate and unify? How does self-reliance impact one’s life and work? How do isolation and community contribute to the re-imagining of frontier literature? Panelists with ties to Alaska explore the ways these issues play out in their writing lives and in their books.


Deb Vanasse is the author of Out of the Wilderness and Black Wolf of the Glacier. Co-founder of the 49 Alaska Writing Center, she writes fiction and nonfiction. She has reviewed for The Washington Post and Bookforum, and her novel A Distant Enemy was a Junior Literary Guild selection.

Don Rearden is an Associate Professor at the University of Alaska and board president for the 49 Alaska Writing Center. He is a produced screenwriter and recently New Bedford Whaling Museum scholar-in-residence. His novel The Raven's Gift reflects his up-bringing in Yupik communities in Alaska.

Melinda Moustakis is the author of Bear Down Bear North: Alaska Stories, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award. She was named a 5 Under 35 writer by the National Book Foundation and was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. Her story "They Find the Drowned" won a 2013 PEN/ O. Henry Award.

Leigh Newman is the author of the Alaskan memoir Still Points North. Her stories and essays have appeared in One Story, Tin House, Fiction, The New York Times, Vogue, and Bookforum. She co-founded Black Balloon Publishing and is the deputy and books editor of Oprah.com.

Seth Kantner wrote Shopping for Porcupine and the novel Ordinary Wolves. His writing focuses on the Arctic: animals, wilderness, and native villages. His essays have appeared nationwide. He’s the recipient of a Whiting and other awards, and presently is a columnist for the Anchorage Daily News.


March 30-April 2, 2016
Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles Convention Center & JW Marriott Los Angeles