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Process underway to choose Alaska’s next writer laureate

February 28, 2019

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s writer laureate will hold on to the title as the process to choose a successor occurs later than usual.

Ernestine Saankalaxt’ Hayes was announced as the 2016-2018 Alaska State Writer Laureate in December 2016, the Juneau Empire reported. The University of Alaska Southeast professor is the author of “Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir” and “The Tao of Raven.”

“I’m not sure if I’m Laureate for a few extra months or if it’s more of a slight pause in the process,” Hayes said by email. “It’s been an honor and a pleasure to serve as Writer Laureate, and I feel certain that serving as former Laureate will be just as fulfilling.”

The process is underway to choose the next laureate, said the director of the Alaska State Council, Andrea Noble-Pelant.

“We should have an announcement for the media by March 30, 2019,” Noble-Pelant said in an email. “It’s a little later than usual so the position will go from April 1, 2019-March 30, 2021.”

The State Writer Laureate program is a partnership between the state council on the arts and the Alaska Humanities Forum. The program is a descendent of the Poet Laureate program started by the Juneau Poetry Society in the 1960s.

The Poet Laureate Program was broadened in 1996 to recognize all types of writing.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com