The Alaska State Writer Laureate Program is a partnership between the Alaska State Council on the Arts (ASCA) and the Alaska Humanities Forum.  The Writer Laureate designation recognizes the contributions of an Alaska writer and includes funds to support a unique project of the Laureate’s design during their two-year term.  

The Alaska State Writer Laureate is a two-year honorary appointment recognizing the selected writer’s contribution to the quality of life in Alaska through their written work and other literary endeavors. The role of the Laureate is to promote the literary arts and artists of Alaska. In fulfilling this purpose, each Laureate determines, in consultation with ASCA and the Forum, a project to complete over the course of their appointment.

Nominations are solicited by the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Alaska Humanities Forum on a biennial basis. The Alaska State Writer Laureate is selected by the Literary Arts Advisory Committee and approved by both ASCA’s and AKHF’s boards. The Alaska State Writer Laureate is recognized through a proclamation by the Legislature.

> Eligibility criteria, nomination, and selection details

Announcing the 2021-2023 State Writer Laureate, Heather Lende!

Heather Lende of Haines has been selected as the 2021 – 2023 Alaska State Writer Laureate. Heather is the author of three highly acclaimed books: If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name; Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs; and Find the Good. Her fourth book, Of Bears and Ballots, was released from Algonquin books in 2020. Heather's work has been lauded in, among others, The New York Times Book Review, The Seattle Times, Booklist, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe.

“Heather writes in an intimate, kind, and funny way that draws us in to the universality of the human experience," reflects Moira K. Smith, Chair of the Alaska Humanities Forum Board of Directors. "Whether reporting (and ruminating) on Haines’ deadly mudslides, writing obituaries for her friends and neighbors, or just blogging about the glorious surprise of a sunny spring day, Heather’s writing reminds Alaskans of our common humanity.  On behalf of the Alaska Humanities Forum’s Board of Directors, it is our pleasure to join with the Alaska State Council on the Arts in honoring Heather’s career and contributions to our state and designating her the Alaska State Writer Laureate for 2021-2023.”

Heather currently hosts a monthly radio program on KHNS called Art Matters where she interviews and showcases artists and creative people in Haines, Skagway, and Klukwan. She is a board member for Hospice of Haines, serves on the Haines Borough Assembly, sings in the Haines a cappella Women’s Chorus, and has performed in and directed plays for Lynn Canal Community Players (she played the Stage Manager in Our Town 28 years ago and, more recently, appeared as Kate in Dancing at Lughnasa.)

Heather is on the team that mobilizes the Haines Snow Dragon each December during the holiday parade. She is the obituary writer for the Chilkat Valley News and, since 1997 has written over 500 obituaries for residents of Haines and Klukwan. Heather has written hundreds of columns and essays published in Alaska and beyond from Alaska Magazine and Country Living to The Christian Science Monitor and National Geographic Traveler. She is a former contributing editor of Woman’s Day Magazine.

Heather has lived in Haines since 1982 with her husband Chip and five children. In her free time she enjoys taking her dogs on long walks, cycling, swimming, hiking snowshoeing, hunting, and she rafted through the Artic National Wildlife Refuge in the summer of 2019. Learn more at heatherlende.com.