May the Owl Call Again: A Return to Poet John Meade Haines, 1924-2011

Alaskan poet John Haines has been gone for more than a decade now, but his singular voice stays with me—the deep quiet of it and its enchantment, the spareness of his lines—Li Po transposed to the far north. Much else is here to muse on and admire—his charming letters to Rachel Epstein, photos of his homestead in Richardson, transcripts of talks given, memoirs of a vanished Alaska, selected essays, notes on the imagination’s relationship with the natural world, even recollections of his service on a destroyer in the Pacific toward the end of WW II. May the Owl Call Again is a moving and memorable collection, and at its heart is Haines’ haunting poetry.

—Marc Hudson, poet, translator, and an emeritus professor at Wabash College. His most recent book of poems is East Of Sorrow.

May the Owl Call Again bears witness to the last years of Haines’ life—his thoughts, humor, melancholy, a profound awareness of Alaska’s rhythms, and his struggles with engagement in a broken world. But, above all, it is a meditation on friendship and the solace of intimacy that can be found in the handwritten page. It’s a testament to care, the aches of connection and solitude, and the consolation of finding kinship with another. I found myself reading it all at once and walking away with a profound sense of gratitude for Epstein sharing this Haines with all of us.

—Freya Rohn, poet and founder of Ariadne Archive

What a fine tribute this collection is. That Rachel Epstein corresponded so frequently with John in his last years is both touching and laudable. He clearly appreciated the long-distance friendship. I was saddened by the elder poet’s references to loneliness and failing health while simultaneously uplifted by his endlessly inquisitive mind, sense of humor, and ongoing interest in literature and the arts. Re-reading the poems and essays included here, I was moved again by the wistful and sometimes dark tone and the seeming simplicity of language. John Haines will be remembered as one of Alaska’s greatest thinkers and writers.

—Anne Coray, poet and author of Bone Strings

Rachel Epstein artfully constructs a sensitive portrait of poet, John Haines, in the evenfall of his life, through a series of letters exchanged with the author. Revealed in this correspondence is a man with a giant intellect, a deep curiosity, and a true interest in the present-day world. His reputation as curmudgeon is not evident as he writes to Epstein about cats, sends her cards (mostly cats, mostly humorous), and comments on life while exhibiting a dry wit and wry sense of humor. He recommends films and books related to interests she has expressed. In this, he proves himself to be a generous and attentive friend. In addition to the letters, Epstein includes a broad selection of poetry that reflects the range and content of Haines’ work. I was particularly glad to see she included “Rain Country,” a poem I have reread over the decades. I still find myself drawn into that country anew, as if reading the poem for the first time, the poet not old, not yet. Ultimately, Epstein’s purpose in writing this book is best expressed by her: My hope is that John Haines will not fade from collective memory but will continue to influence, inspire, and nurture creative expression within and beyond Alaska. Her fine work represents a great contribution to that effort.

—Gretchen Diemer, poet and author of Between Fire and Water, Ice and Sky

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Climb to the pilot house roof with Tiny Demientieff on her parents’ paddlewheel riverboat, the Sea Wolf, to bask in sights and sounds of the broad Yukon and winding Innoko. Number eight of Nick and Nellie Demientieff’s ten children, young Tiny loves her family and her town of Holy Cross, Alaska, but is not afraid to steal her sister’s birthday party or laugh with her mother at the neighbor who is certain she sees black bears on skis—black bears who turn out to be nuns from the Holy Cross Mission! Through child eyes and her family’s stories, Tiny takes us up remote rivers to glimpse gold mining towns in their last days of fancy ladies and storekeepers. When her family barges freight along the Yukon after WW II, Tiny enters her school days in Fairbanks and learns to be a town kid. She schemes with her siblings to join the Empress Theater “Space Cadets” in the brief neon glow of that historic movie theater. Tiny’s stories take us into her young adulthood at Copper Valley School. At CVS, Tiny is still the lively prankster, but she asks hard questions of herself and others as she encounters heartache in her family’s first great loss. Readers will relish the first-person voice of an Athabascan youngster in these true tales, set against the dynamic backdrop of Alaska’s history.… Read More

Gerald Cable book of poetry

Gerald Cable’s poems are so full of life—exploring, inquiring, imagining—that it’s still hard to come to grips with his too early death. There is a wonderful spontaneity here, as the poems twist, weave, dart and land in unexpected places. In this absorbing book Cable moves through a wide assortment of jobs—crab fishing, panning for gold, farming and construction work—as well as extremes of weather—30 below winters, violent summer rainstorms—and a multitude of human and animal encounters. As they offer up verbal and sensory revelations, these poems express the full richness of one man’s experience.

— John Morgan, author of nine books, including The Hungers of the World: New and Collected Later Poems

It must be good to know, deep inside, that one lived one’s life to the fullest. I never met Jerry Cable, only heard about him—but I feel I’ve met him now, and I am stunned. His poems capture what it is to live and work for twenty years in Interior Alaska, all the while navigating between one’s past and the future, the cold and warmth, the fun and not. At the same time, many of the poems are like shining, mystical riddles. Spare and honest, they explore what lies beneath the moment – vivid, poignant, ecstatic, unsayable.

— Carolyn Kremers, author of Place of the Pretend People: Gifts from a Yup’ik Eskimo Village, The Alaska Reader: Voices from the North, and the poetry collection Upriver, finalist for the 2014 Willa Award

Gerald Cable’s new poetry book, If Singing Went On, is an extraordinary collection that explores the beauty and heartbreak of the world. These poems are the words of a man who built his own cabin in Alaska and worked construction there for many years. They examine ordinary events and difficult topics, all with the same careful attention to language. The voice in these resilient and achingly beautiful poems is powerful, confident, and wholly unique. I recommend this book with all my heart.

— Linda Schandelmeier, author of Listening Hard Among the Birches and Coming Out of Nowhere, winner of the Willa Award

Reading Gerald Cable’s posthumous book If Singing Went On is like listening to an intelligent friend telling you about his day. He reels out thoughtful descriptions with insight and fresh metaphor from an active and capacious mind. Ranging from observations of abandoned dredges in Alaska to harvesting the garden in fall “…the cold heart of joy.” He surprises at every turn… Against the hard metal of industry, he flashes forth with organic metaphors connected to the natural world… He would have us know, as he says to a friend, “It’s cold, Emily, and the world sails hard for the sun.” His words come to us alive as ever.

— David McElroy, author of the poetry books Just Between Us and Water The Rocks Make


Cover art by Tami Phelps, “Polychrome Pass”… Read More

A Variable Sense of Things by Ron McFarland

The teacher assigns her fourth-grade students to write “poems as lovely as trees,” and they go at it, these students whose aspirations are a display board at the county fair. Young Ron McFarland takes the subject to heart, and from his pencil unfurl leaves, sturdy branches, sunlight between the branches, possibly fruit and a wayward kite, and most certainly a nest in which birds burst with song. McFarland, in this and previous collections, goes far beyond trees. I see McFarland coloring the world, a sort of John Constable, beginning with trees and then with tenderness and art making it all come alive.

— Gary Soto, author of New and Selected Poems, a National Book Award Finalist, and One Kind of Faith

If you were to sit down with Ron McFarland (kitchen counter, seminar table, barstool), you would soon understand that he knows a very great deal about a whole lot of things and can talk about any of them with savvy and erudition, mostly disguised as plain talk. The experience is not a whole lot different from reading A Variable Sense of Things, his latest book of poems. Sometimes wry, sometimes downright funny; sometimes elegiac, sad, or rueful, and always, always smart. They do not strain, these poems. They are wise. They mean exactly what they say, and more.

— Robert Wrigley, author of Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems and The True Account of Myself As A Bird

Intensely personal poems, studded with unexpected ironies like grace notes, which illuminate the depth below the surface.

— Mary Clearman Blew, author of Think of Horses… Read More


Getting Home from Here offers forty-seven stunning, thought-provoking poems covering a woman’s life whose personal history reflects much of the ethnic complexity, familial joys/sorrows, social strains, and natural beauty of the U.S. Anne Ward-Masterson writes of her New Hampshire girlhood, Wading into cool water/sinking soft sediment of the river bed oozes/sucking at our toes. And of Alaska, her home now, Spring cries storms against/My window all through twilight/Sunrise brings damp calm. Anne also calls out the racist history of the U.S. which foisted shame and confusion upon her mixed-race childhood but is now a source of pride. An inspiring and compelling read.

—Kerry Dean Feldman, author of Alice’s Trading Post: A Novel of the West, and poems in The Woman Within: Memory as Muse

In Getting Home from Here, especially her poems about race, Ward-Masterson calls out schools, the military, and people who make assumptions about her. She questions how people perceive blackness (“why won’t I tone it down?”). She describes the cab of a pickup truck or a riverbed with equal clarity through sensory language. Her natural, occasional rhyme threads a consistent, melodic quality through several moments of soft, poignant sadness. Her devices hit their mark. An ecological element eases the pain: bees alight on her arms: “let nature heal the wounds it did not make.” A rewarding read.

—Cynthia Steele… Read More

Crossing the Burnside Bridge

Janice Rubin’s newest book of poems, Crossing the Burnside Bridge & Other Poems, ends with the lines: Loss is a hallmark of identity. We don’t have to reclaim everything. What comes before is a vivid collection of poems reclaiming memory, place, history, and love. This collection of poetry is an ode to growing up in Portland, living in Eugene and the Willamette Valley and a pandemic that’s survived. The poems reveal a rich tapestry of personal history, direct and clear, a sense of empowerment and the confidence to feel deeply. Crossing the Burnside Bridge & Other Poems is a reflection of a life fully lived.… Read More

Infinite Meditations by Scott Hanson

Infinite Meditations: For Inspiration & Daily Practice offers techniques to:

Ground yourself in times of stress and change;
Discover or re-kindle your spiritual journey;
Tap into your intuition to maximize personal joy and effectiveness;
Create an unlimited number of unique meditation mantras based on your beliefs and goals

Words from Readers:

This surely is a work of art! I like that the meditations are given in a context that is useful and meaningful to the reader; in this book, the author holds a nice balance of being capable and informative, yet also humble. The first time I tried it I just “asked,” and the number 33 popped into my mind, so I read Meditation 33 and chuckled at how appropriate it was. Thank you for sharing Infinite Meditations with me – may it have a good journey out into the world.

— Jane English, PhD, Photographer, Author of A Rainbow of Tao, and co-creator with Gia-Fu Feng of an edition of Tao Te Ching. See

Infinite Meditations invites the reader into a multi-faceted, ongoing conversation with the Tao Te Ching, that ancient Chinese classic of mystery and sensibility. Scott Hanson’s inspired reflections on the Tao and other rich founts offer compelling insights and possibilities for the reader to create a path of one’s own. Here you will find ageless wisdom, new perspectives, and bountiful nourishment for an enduring meditation practice. Drawing from an extensive range of sources as varied as multiple translations of the Tao Te Ching, including one by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English, to the discoveries of Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, Scott Hanson has created an accessible and compelling gateway to a meditation practice for a lifetime.

— Carol Ann Wilson, Author, Still Point of the Turning World: The Life of Gia-fu Feng, Foreword Magazine’s 2010 Book of the Year

In my years leading teams of people, I have consistently been an advocate for a holistic approach to work – meaning that it is important to be happy in life, and work is only one component of happiness. One strategy I use for personal happiness, and have recommended to others, is to begin every day with some form of positive reinforcement either through reading or meditation.

I was energized by Scott’s vision and approach to a subject that is dear to me. This book not only addresses the value of daily meditation but also acts as a guide for newcomers to the practice. I would recommend it to anyone who craves more peace and harmony in their life, and particularly as a tool to those who are faced with unanticipated challenges. I see Infinite Meditations serving as an inspirational conduit to people focused on improving themselves.

— Robert Ackerman, Author, Executive Coach and Former COO of a Fortune 500 Company

This is a unique interpretation of the Tao Te Ching that offers an understanding of the fundamental ideas of Taoism in a modernized and eclectic style. I find that subsequent readings of specific meditations reveal additional insights and depth to the experience. I highly encourage everyone to give this work at least one read, the number of meditations absolutely being finite notwithstanding.

— Jack Hanson, Mathematics Instructor

The largest insufficiency of American culture today is the lack of the masses to recognize one thing: that each person has a soul that begs to be understood in its relation to a just and loving higher power. Meditation can be one of the best platforms in life to pursue knowledge of our inner being, and of God. With Infinite Meditations, Scott Hanson gives the reader a solid foundation for the value of meditation / contemplation; then the tools to incorporate that into daily life in ways that are meaningful to each person. Hats off to this unique and extensive effort. I highly recommend it!

— Greg Gibson, Author of Rhythm of the Stride: Answers in Time

Learning to meditate over the past two years has really helped me navigate through a very difficult time. As I have evolved with it, I find I usually meditate in the early evenings, as this gives me the greatest peace of mind. I don’t love all of the meditations that Scott shares, and I tell him that! But I particularly love my meditation – “Peace Come to Me” (80); as well as “Meditation 65 – I am the Song,” and “Meditation 78 – Becoming One with the River.” The vision of becoming like ice melting (from 78) is a mantra that really appeals to me and helps me let go.

— Gail Halsaver

It has been nothing short of a fantastic journey watching this project unfold from its first conception, through many years of drafts and re-writes to the present moment. I admire Scott’s vision and his driving passion to create a work that reflects the spirit and depth of his personal meditation practice. It has been a privilege reading, experimenting with mantras, and offering my edits to meditations in real time with him. I believe the book succeeds in providing simple, profound messages that will serve to guide, ground, and inspire.

— Kristina Hanson

The truth is, meditation can be a challenging habit to develop yet the commitment and dedication of this very personal act of self-discipline is well worth the effort. ​​​​​​I have been meditating for over 20 years and the benefits Scott lays out are true and here for us.

I love how Scott has brought together not only individual meditations on various subjects but he also explains the benefits of meditating; tips on how to meditate; suggestions for enhancing one’s practice; and more.

The well-written and thoughtful individual meditations have given me a resource of topics to meditate on that have enhanced my own practice. Infinite Meditations would be a great book not only for an advanced meditator but also for a beginner.

— Signe Nichols, a long-time student of the practice of meditation and seeker of mindfulness

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Mail Order Nurse by Sue Lium

Mail Order Nurse to the Arctic is the lively memoir of a young, city-bred nurse who flew to Kotzebue for her first job in 1969. It is an engaging read about ingenuity in medical care, the author’s fascination with the land and her cross-cultural pleasures and mishaps. The book covers the first two years of her nursing career, including time in Barrow [Utqiavik]. It benefits from the author’s photos and from her current perspective as a long-time Alaska nurse. Highly recommended for readers interested in Alaska history, medicine, and memoir.

—Sarah Crawford Isto, MD, author of The Fur Farms of Alaska: Two Centuries of History and a Forgotten Stampede and Good Company: A Mining Family in Fairbanks, Alaska

Settle in for a fascinating tour of a culture on the edge of the world, the Inupiat people of Northwest Alaska. Join Sue in fun activities from partaking in a caribou hunt, to racing across the sea ice behind a dog team, to learning cultural differences like why the Inupiat never say goodbye. Sue also shows us another side of life in this remote region, from struggles with alcohol, to culture shock to murder. All in all, it is a riveting read delivered by an empathetic observer of a tough and hardy people legendary for their survival skills in one of the harshest environments on earth.

— Stan Jones, author of The Nathan Active Arctic mysteries

Sue Lium willingly immersed herself into the diverse culture and lifestyles of the Native residents above the Arctic Circle in the American Inupiaq village of Kotzebue. For two years, Lium embraced and explored their unique way of life while being continually tested by harsh arctic weather blended with the intricacies of practicing frontier medicine and life by airplane, dog sled and skidoo. A wonderful story of adaptation and adventure.

— John Kinnear, Canadian historian and columnist, Crowsnest Pass Herald

 … Read More

All in Due Time by Kate Troll

Kate Troll’s frank personal memoir proves that Tolstoy was wrong — All happy families are not alike. The six talented, close-knit Troll siblings shared a loving, fun-filled childhood and remain best of pals as adults. Turns out, there is something (or I should say someone?) missing. And that is only half of it. All in Due Time is full of surprises and puzzles, but mostly it made me wish I were a long-lost Troll.

— Heather Lende, Alaska State Writer Laureate and author of If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name

The surprises and turns in the story provide an opportunity for the author to fill in important backstories and topics relevant to today’s women and families. For example, the backstory of the author’s mother includes her being sent off to live in a home for “ostracized women and unwed mothers.” In this way All in Due Time provides a unique glimpse into how far women have come in the last seventy years. Additionally, the author explores timely topics such as the influence of birth order and how much of our political ideology comes from our genetics. It is these backstories and investigations that makes All in Due Time a robust and fascinating read relevant for our times.

An emotionally satisfying story with a charming cast of characters and a big-hearted perspective, All in Due Time is a fitting memoir for our era of genetic surprises. Unlike many memoirs on this topic, Troll conveys the sunnier side of digging into dark family secrets, weaving a tale of joy, inclusivity, and empathy.

—Andromeda Romano-Lax, author of Annie and the Wolves, Plum Rains, and Behave

As an only child, as an adoptee, and as an Alaskan I loved this book. The writing was so good, I couldn’t put it down. As a result of reading All in Due Time, I now have decided to learn about my biological father and his family.

—Diane Antaya, primary teacher, Juneau, Alaska

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The Woman Within by Tami Phelps

An edgy collaboration of the heart, The Woman Within: Memory as Muse, brings the paintings of Anchorage artist Tami Phelps into the expressive realm of her writer-anthropologist husband, Kerry Dean Feldman, who does not disappoint as he embraces them in verse about respect due to women. Presented daringly in varied configurations, they challenge or confirm ideas of gender and destiny. The art works surprise and delightfully confound. The sections that follow include Phelps’s collaboration with renowned fine art photographer Richard J. Murphy.

“The Woman Within: Memory as Muse, is a treasure. A collaboration of unique talent that sends creative and thoughtful ripples through the pond.”

—Douglas Mehrens, founder of the Museum of Encaustic Art, Encaustic Art Institute, and Encaustic Arts Magazine

“The authors deftly invite us to a place of calm reflection in which diversity, respectfulness, and choice are honored.”

—Sheary Clough Suiter, visual artist and educator

“This book is a visually charming memoir-cum-paeon to the feminine by artist Tami Phelps, her husband poet Kerry Dean Feldman, and photographer Richard J. Murphy.”

—David McElroy, author of Water the Rocks Make, University of Alaska Press… Read More

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