Programming for the 2022-23 Big Read Juneau and UAS One Campus, One Book has wrapped up.

Past Events


Juneau poets and writers to reflected on the work of indigenous musician, and current U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, and paid tribute to her influence on their own writing lives. Harjo’s memoir, An American Sunrise – her eighth collection of poems— has been selected by Juneau Public Library for the annual Big Read, which invites members of the community to read a book together and share its impact. An American Sunrise revisits the homeland from which Harjo’s ancestors were uprooted in 1830 as a result of the Indian Removal Act. Widely acclaimed, it has been described by the Washington Post as “rich and deeply engaging … creates bridges of understanding while reminding readers to face and remember the past.”

Ernestine Hayes, former Alaska Writer Laureate and Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award winner, provided the keynote for this Big Read event, followed by a panel discussion featuring Lance Twitchell, moderator, and panelists Jared OlinShaelene Grace Moler, and Olive Brend. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to explore the work of one of our country’s most admired writers with members of Alaska’s own community.

“I returned to see what I would find, in these lands we were forced to leave behind.” – Joy Harjo, An American Sunrise

Ernestine Hayes was born and raised in Juneau, then spent 25 years in California before returning to Juneau in her early 40s. After her return, she graduated from UAS, earned an MFA in creative writing and literary arts from UAA, and became a professor at UAS, where she continues to teach today. She is the author of two Alaska Native memoirs, Blonde Indian (University of Arizona Press, 2006) and The Tao of Raven (University of Washington Press, 2016), and a non-fiction book, Juneau (Arcadia Publishing, 2013). Her essays, poetry and commentary have been published widely and she has received many awards, including the American Book Award (2007) for Blonde Indian. From 2017-2018, Ernestine served as Alaska State Writer Laureate. In 2021, she was awarded the Distinguished Artist Award from the Rasmuson Foundation for a lifetime of creative excellence and contributions to Alaska’s arts and culture. She also received the first Marie Darlin Prize from the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, given in recognition of her “passionate commitment to Juneau and Alaska history, and her advocacy for Alaska Native rights, culture, and decolonization.” Ernestine belongs to the Kaagwaantaan clan of the Eagle side of the Lingit nation.

This event was sponsored by 49 Writers, Juneau Public Library, University of Alaska Southeast, KTOO. The NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment
for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

A Most Powerful Song: Elevating Indigenous Voices
Thursday November 4th 7-8:30 PM

Indigenous poets Vivian Faith Prescott, Marie Tozier and X’unei Lance Twitchell will read from their work and discuss poetic lineage, the influence of U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo and the importance of increasing visibility of Indigenous people and poetry. Sol Neely, Cherokee Nation Citizen and Associate Professor of English at Heritage University will provide introductory remarks and moderate the conversation with participants and attendees. This NEA Big Read and UAS One Campus, One Book event continues a community celebration of Joy Harjo’s An American Sunrise and all are welcome. NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Northwest. Sponsored by the Friends of the Juneau Public Library and UAS Egan Library. The event was recorded and posted to the University of Alaska Southeast YouTube page.

Vivian Faith Prescott lives and writes in Lingít Aaní on the land of the Shtax’heen Kwáan in Kaachxaana.áak’w, Wrangell, Alaska at her family’s fishcamp. She’s married with four grown children and two step-children. Her children are Raven of the T’akdeintaan/Snail House. She is adopted into the T’akdeintaan clan. She’s a grandmother and great-grandmother. She is of Sámi, Suomalainen, and Irish descent (among others). She is a member of the Pacific Sámi Searvi. She holds an MFA from the University of Alaska Anchorage and a MA in Cross Cultural Studies with an emphasis in Indigenous Knowledge Systems from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She also holds an interdisciplinary PhD in Cross Cultural Studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is the author of 7 books of poetry and a collection of linked stories. Forthcoming in 2022 is her foodoir, “My Father’s Smokehouse” (West Margin Press) and a full-length poetry collection “Old Woman With Berries in Her Lap” from the University of Alaska Press’ Alaska Literary Series. Along with her daughter Vivian Mork Yéilk’, she co-hosts Planet Alaska Facebook page and is co-columnist at Planet Alaska, an award-winning column appearing in the Juneau Empire. She is a founding member of Blue Canoe Writers and a founding member of Community Roots, the first LGBTQIA group in Wrangell, Alaska. (Source: from the author)

Iñupiaq poet Marie Tozier earned an MFA from the low-residency program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is the author of the poetry collection Open the Dark (2020), which illuminates elements of Iñupiaq life in northwestern Alaska. Tozier has also written for the Anchorage Daily News. She teaches at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Northwest Campus. As a participant in the university’s Robert Wood Johnson Global Solutions Partnership, she traveled to Aotearoa (New Zealand) to study Maori education and culture. She has led sewing, quilting, knitting and qiviut processing, and writing classes. She lives in Nome, Alaska, with her family. (Source: Poetry Foundation)

Lance Twitchell carries the Tlingit names X̱ʼunei and Du Aaní Kawdinook, and the Haida name Ḵʼeijáakw. He lives in Juneau with his wife and bilingual children, and is from the Tlingit, Haida, and Yupʼik native nations. He speaks & studies the Tlingit language, and advocates for indigenous language revitalization. He is an Associate Professor of Alaska Native Languages at the University of Alaska Southeast, has a Ph.D. in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language Revitalization from Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, and is a  Northwest Coast Artist, musician, author, and filmmaker. (Source: Troubled Raven)

Cherokee Citizen and scholar Sol Neely earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy and Literature from Purdue University and completed Cornell University’s School of Criticism and Theory. He also holds degrees from the University of Alaska Anchorage in English and Philosophy. His specializations are in theory and cultural studies within literature and Native American studies.  In 2019, Neely walked the Trail of Tears with his father and daughter, which  provided an opportunity to “meditate on historical violence, transgenerational perseverance, memory, and repair.” He reflects on this experience in the essay, “The Trail Where They Cried: Displacement and Healing Across Generations”.  Dr. Neely was Associate Professor of English at UAS for 11 years where he coordinated the Honors Program and The Flying University, a prison-education program. He currently serves as Director of Composition and Associate Professor of English at Heritage University.

Questions? Contact Jonas Lamb