Inupiaq woman wins major writing award

Poet Joan Kane, an Inupiaq Eskimo woman, received the prestigious Whiting Writers’ Award. (It comes with $50,000!)

“My husband jokes that he’s probably the only start-up lawyer whose practice is being kept afloat by his poet wife,” she said.
Some of the money will buy health insurance, she said.
She’d also like to take her children and her mother to King Island, an expensive and difficult proposition.
The remote settlement in the Bering Sea was abandoned under pressure from the government in the 1950s. Memories of the deserted village contribute to overtones of loss and change that haunt Kane’s poems. King Islanders retain a strong sense of identity with the place, though members of the younger generation — including Kane herself — have never been there.
Kane hopes to visit small communities in the future, to talk about writing and “bring books to others.”
“As a writer, you have to be concerned when you see all of these towns without bookstores,” she said.

Read some of Kane’s poetry here, here, and here.
Via Reihan.

Join the Conversation

  • rhowan

    Er… maybe it’s different in the U.S., but in Canada “Eskimo” is considered a pejorative term, so it’s really startling to see you using it to describe an Inuit woman.

  • greenmouse

    It is different in the US. Alaskan groups prefer “Eskimo” because it is inclusive of Yupik groups as well.

  • Robinee

    Thanks for the heads up. I’m very interested in reading Ms. Kane’s poetry now. I always enjoy hearing about new (to me) contemporary female authors.

  • LoveFromAlaska

    not sure what she means by buying health insurance… Alaska Natives have universal care.