Saturday, October 15, 2011


I suspect that my life has been forever changed by the incredible honor that was bestowed upon me when I was named a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award. 

When I got the call, I was lying in my bed (which doubles as my office) here in Barrow, Alaska. They told me not to share the news until after the announcement, which was a good thing because I was too overwhelmed to be coherent for some time after receiving that call. I was also a tad nauseous--it was so huge, so amazing, so ultimately daunting that I had a hard time processing it. I write from a place as far removed from the media centers of the world as it is possible to be. And I write from a culture that is little known beyond the Arctic. I’ve lived here the majority of my life—it’s what I know and love.

All I ever wanted to do was to write to the heart of my experience, living here, to give those readers willing to join me an opportunity to see what I’ve seen. This recognition means the world to me.

This cake, made by North Slope Borough School District Food Service Manager Bob Eason, was waiting for me, after our last school board meeting, as part of a reception to honor newly elected school board member Amos Nashookpuk. I thank Kathy Ahgeak for capturing the moment so well with this picture!

 I like this picture. I like it not because it flatters me more than most pictures (I take lousy pictures) but because when I look at myself, I see an aging woman who looks a lot like my mother--and I am suddenly gratified by this and by the fact that my mother's belief in me, my husband's belief, have just been validated in such a huge way. I am grateful for all that I have learned, living in this amazing place, most especially for the worldview I saw first in looking at life through my husband's eyes. And I am incredibly grateful for the fact that I have learned, as I age, how to trust in that inner wellspring of spiritual light that surrounds us all if we will let it. All is very light right now.

Before I was named an NBA finalist, I had conceived of a blog tour to advertise the release of My Name is Not Easy. I should have advertised the tour on this blog before the fact rather than after, but so it is. Here are the blogs I visited, before I became overwhelmed by life:  

There were several other blogs that I was to have appeared on, and will appear on later, but I was, for a few days, having a hard time stringing words together, much less writing blog posts. I look forward to getting back to what we writers call the real work.

With much gratitude, thank you. Quyanaqpak,

Friday, October 7, 2011

The view from my front door...

The owls arrive on winter 
wings, with messages we can't
decipher, watching us
with steady yellow eyes 
as if 
they know something
not at all

Oh! This reminds me of Nancy White Carlstrom's wonderful book, so quintessentially Alaskan: Goodbye Geese illustrated by Ed Young, a book that should never have gone out of print:

...When geese spread their wings in the sky
and fly honking south,
winter hears
and winter comes.





Yes, winter is here at the top of the world where we are all happy to welcome its pristine whiteness, its healing silence.