North Words

 I've been in Skagway a few days at the North Words Writers' conference with some of my favorite Alaska writers and authors, including Sitka's John Straley. If you haven't met his unlikely southeast Alaskan detective, Cecil Younger, you really should. Cecil stars in John's first six books, the ones with titles like The Woman Who Married a Bear, The Music of What Happens and The Angels Will Not Care. John is also a poet, can you tell? And a former Alaska Writer Laureate. (Can you tell I'm  a huge fan?) You can hear interviews with John, as well as New York author Harold Blum, Juneau's Lynn Schooler, Kotzebue's Seth Kanter, Kim Heacox from over by Glacier Bay- and more- even me, at the CBC North. 

What made the symposium great were the participants and Skagway itself, which is best represented by Carlin "Buckwheat" Donahue, a larger than life character who howls like a wolf, sort of, when he's happy and recites Robert Service poems that make you cry. What is not love about a city whose mayor and council pay for a writers' conference? How many municipalities do you know that do that?  

And I know it is terrible to leave you hanging on the car wreck and the gaping hole in the roof of my last note. All went well, apparently. It didn't rain, and my neighbor's roof has been buttoned up, and now includes two new dormers and plywood sheathing covered with tar paper. The young lady driving the horribly smashed car we saw in the ditch is okay, and hopefully has learned a lesson she won't forget about both reckless driving and especially how much she is loved.

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