In this latest assignment, I especially enjoyed reading “Every Single Day”, by John Straley. He manages to capture the joy of experiencing the wild, the capturing of food for the table, and the companionship of those who work together to make that all happen. His poem is an excellent summation of what I have learned about the literature of Alaska and the Yukon Territories. Alaska is all about subsistence, nature, and community.
Through this course, I have been exposed to a large number of writers with a huge variety of styles and perspectives. It has been incredibly interesting to compare and contrast the writers over a span of many, many years; from the ancient Native legends to the modern day developers and environmentalists. Common themes in all these stories include the land, how it is used, and how we all exist together in what is considered one of America’s last frontiers. Because this land can be so fierce and unforgiving, there are many lessons to be learned and passed on. How much do we give and take? Do we help or hurt others and all of our wonderful resources? For me, these questions, questions that we should ask ourselves every day, represent what I have learned about the literature. There are many worldviews but we must remember that we are all here, together, and it is only through community spirit, respect, honesty, and integrity that we can lead full lives.
By far, the most intriguing and thought provoking reading in this course was William Cronon’s “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature”. I believe Mr. Cronon’s perspective on wilderness will forever color my own. Definitions of nature, and wilderness differ significantly based on culture and economic status. As a nation, we would best serve our peoples by identifying, understanding, and evaluating these differing perspectives as we make crucial choices about our future.