I really enjoyed the poem Tales of the North by Sheila Nickerson. Her poem is like a group of snapshot images to create a whole picture. She captures the magic and beauty of everyday life in Alaska.
Mrs. Nickerson made a connection between the exterior landscape of Alaska and her internal psychological or emotional landscapes by writing about how the landscape feels and looks to her. Sheila Nickerson’s poem “Tales of the North” shows the author’s emotion of loving the natural year round beauty of south east Alaska.
I live where trees are dressed in strands of moss
And Christmas is forever.
The porcupine is near at hand,
A raven in my ear.
A bearskin comes to school
(three can climb inside).
A seagull turns the sky.
The waxwings happen each November,
And oranges from islands of Japan.
Cranberry, crowberry, cucumber, currant-
We eat the index of the woods;
And when the mountains have grown dark
With fiddleheads all folded into sleep,
We are the children of the rain
With unexpected blossoms in our mouths
And have the stories of the totems
Sprouting ferns from fallen faces.
Trawlers slip away in fog.
And secret places wait
Behind the frozen waterfalls
And in the caves of trees.
The moss frows think upon my roof
And winter is immense.
In the long tunnels of remembering
Safe beneath the wind
I count my unknown store,
Listening to the wingbeats of the dark.
I think that landscape is a prominent feature in Alaska writing because of its sheer beauty and the author wants to share the way she sees the natural beauty of Alaska. The Alaska landscape is so expansive and breath taking that it would be a terrible shame not to share it. It is a huge part of what Alaska means. People come here for the adventure in the great unknown. I also think that it is a prominent feature in Alaska writing because of the curiosity of people who do not live in Alaska and their curiosity of “The Last Frontier”. People are curious creatures and they want to know how Alaskans live in what many think of as a completely foreign compared to the rest of the United States. So I think that writing is a great way for authors in Alaska to tell their stories and Alaska’s stories as well.
“For young people interested in becoming poets, she [Sheila] has this advice: “Do it! Write what you see, hear, feel, smell, touch, taste, experience. Write with nouns and verbs. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’”
Picture from http://theworldiexposed.blogspot.com/2012/08/juneau-alaska-mount-roberts-tree-carving.html