Cirque Poetry Contest Reading

“Order, Chaos and What’s happening now?” David McElroy has selected the three top winners and another group of about 11 poems to be published as well.  On November 22, 6 pm Alaska Time, the winning poets will read their poems.  … Read More

November Poetry Parley via Zoom

We are on Zoom in November.  Join us Thursday, November 17 night at 6 pm Alaska Time.  There is still time to sign up for a WCW poem but the most popular have been claimed.  So, dig a little deeper … Read More

Between Promise and Sadness by Joanne Townsend

Former Alaska Poet Laureate, Joanne Townsend, had a naturalist’s eye and a poet’s ability to convey her emotions and love of nature. Her poems speak of pleasure as well as the sorrow of losing of her only son. When Joanne died, only a large unsorted pile of poems in hard copy was found. Her friends and colleagues in Las Cruces, New Mexico: Ellen Roberts Young, Christine Eber and Joseph Somoza, with assistance from Peter Goodman, F. Richard Thomas and Frank Varela composed this book. Joanne Townsend’s posthumous collection, Promise and Sadness, is a tribute to her life and legacy.

“When Joanne Townsend and I were introduced (by a poet, of course) over 45 years ago, we hit it off right away. After all, we had many things in common: a history with the Atlantic seaboard, raising sons, a reverence for history, flower gardening. But the most important thing we shared was a belief that poetry is a necessary component of civilization. Further, we weren’t kidding around: each of us was deeply committed to writing the best poetry she could. In particular, Joanne focused on helping the elderly struggling to express themselves.

Her departure has left a big gap in my universe.”

— Ann Chandonnet, author of Baby Abe: A Lullaby for Lincoln

“I didn’t know Joanne Townsend well during the decades when she lived in Alaska, and if you know me at all that will not come as a surprise. Now, after reading her Between Promise and Sadness I wish I had. She had a naturalists’ eye and a poet’s ability to convey what she saw and felt to the reader. She knew joy and more than her share of suffering, including the death of her only son, but in the end, hers is a joyful voice, a kind and understanding one. As much as I admire her “nature” poems from her time in Alaska and her final decades in New Mexico, her cactus and lupine poems, it’s her poems about growing up in an immigrant section of Boston that I will read again and again with envy and appreciation.”

— Tom Sexton, author of For the Sake of the Light; New and Selected Poems, Li Bai Rides a Celestial Dolphin Home, and Cummiskey Alley: New and Selected Lowell Poems

“One of Joanne Townsend’s lines, “from a life less clear,” could have served as title. Juxtaposing Alaska and New Mexico, and different eras from her life, she sets us somewhere with concrete and evocative details, then shares her wonderfully pensive later reflections on people, places, and experiences. I like her mix of savoring the moment but also holding it and letting it grow and change in memory; her joy and her candor.”

— Peter Goodman, Columnist for the Las Cruces Sun-News and the blog “Views from Soledad Canyon”.… Read More

Transplanted by Birgit Lennertz Sarrimanolis

“Transplanted is an honest, frank and unsentimental memoir about a life-threatening leukemia diagnosis and an against-all-odds recovery. Birgit Lennertz Sarrimanolis is a skilled writer. She packs the pages with the kind of medical and logistical details anyone dealing with cancer in Alaska will appreciate, and yet this is no “how to” manual. Her story is deeply personal—and that is why it moved my heart and gave me hope.”

— Heather Lende, Alaska State Writer Laureate and author of Of Bears And Ballots and Find The Good

“An exhilarating read, Transplanted is a braided story chronicling the author’s excruciating battle with cancer against the backdrop of Alaska’s far northern landscape, a place of wild contradictions and inclement weather. Engulfed in a wilderness of her own, made up of multiple hospitalizations and the weight of exhaustion and pain, the author takes refuge in the healing powers of the hills, trees, sky and trails she has so vividly come to love…The author’s eloquent language and crisp attentiveness to place, shine, both lyrically and poetically. As sure as permafrost resists the melt, she fights long and hard to regain her health, though her life will never be the same again. Quiet triumph can be found in the fog of loss, and this author artfully shows us how.”

— Monica Devine, Author of Water Mask

“One woman’s account – lyrical, moving, occasionally quite funny – of making her home in the Far North, only to find that the wilderness was inside her.”

— Jennifer Brice, author of Unlearning To Fly… Read More

Sky Changes on the Kuskokwim

In the course of a lifetime, so much has changed in rural Alaska. Time has eroded the past ways of living; leaving in its place, a complicated straddling of the old and new.

The author takes us through the life and hard times of Kim-boy. From family loss to memories gained, Kim-boy struggles to find his way and make sense of both time and place. This is a story that could be told in many parts of Rural Alaska.

Kim-boy’s life is a story of changes and, perhaps, tragedy. His life was a sand bar as the tide rises. Smooth at first, seemingly endless, only to narrow and disappear with the incoming tide of an everchanging world.

—Samuel Crow, born and raised in Bethel, Alaska, retired educator, currently with AVCP (Assoc. of Village Council Presidents)

This is a story of cultural change through the character of Kim-boy who lives along the Kuskokwim River in Alaska. He experiences the advent of outsiders who come from the Lower 48 and disrupt his hunter-gatherer life of living off the land. Kim-boy’s world changes as his culture transitions from a barter to a cash economy. But Kim-boy is resilient. He overcomes the challenges as he is forced to adapt to an academic classroom, deal with the negative effects of alcohol abuse, experience the harsh reality of death and disease and the tearing down of his supportive, extended family.

Each chapter begins with an epigraph to remind the reader that the land of the Yup’ik on the Kuskokwim Delta is part of a larger world. And, prior to each chapter, a short poem by the author challenges the readers’ thinking. It is a gentle nudge to ponder the events happening on the Kuskokwim and what’s to come in the next part of the narrative.

I could very well have known Kim-boy. I grew up in a town on the Kuskokwim at about the same time period. I can attest that Sky Changes brings to the reader a sliver of the life among the Yup’ik during this time.

—John Weise, PhD, retired Alaskan educator

About Cirque Press

Cirque Press was established in 2017, to publish the work of writers from Alaska and the Northwest.

It developed quite naturally from Cirque Journal, established in 2008.

Sandra Kleven and Michael Burwell are founders, editors and publishers.… Read More


A scholar, memoirist, and biographer, Alan Weltzien, as On the Beach amply demonstrates, is also a major Montana poet. Just as Norman Maclean knew rivers and family, Weltzien knows mountains and shorelines (and rivers, too), knows steep pitches and snow, knows what it means to grow up and grow older, what it means to be a son, a husband, and a father; these are poems of work and books, history, friendship, and returning home. Deeply moving, and deeply felt, On the Beach stands with the finest poetry and nature writing ever produced in the Treasure State.

—Brady Harrison, author of The Term Between: Stories

I wish this poet was sitting at my kitchen table, wise-cracking and spinning tales. His eyes and his heart are wide open. His intellect, both electric and electrifying, strikes lightning poem by poem. He’s humorous, humble, humane. Alan Weltzien’s On the Beach, threads “decades of geographies” into a heartfelt collection of memories and conjectures, all offered to us by the generous professor who laughs at himself when “shat” upon mid-lecture by a bird in an outdoor classroom. At the height of his artistry, this poet winks and claims he’s “ever more certain of what I don’t know.”

—Lowell Jaeger, Montana Poet Laureate 2017-2019

About Cirque Press

Cirque Press was established in 2017, to publish the work of writers from Alaska and the Northwest.

It developed quite naturally from Cirque Journal, established in 2008.

Sandra Kleven and Michael Burwell are founders, editors and publishers.

 … Read More

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