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 ASCA 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’s many essays and stories, mostly about life and sometimes death in Haines, Alaska have been distributed widely, from The Anchorage Daily News and Christian Science Monitor to NPR and Country Living. She is a former contributing editor at Woman’s Day magazine and for over twenty years has written some 500 obituaries for the Chilkat Valley News in Haines. She is the author of bestselling memoirs Find the GoodIf You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name, and Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs.

Born and raised in New York, Heather attended Locust Valley Friends Academy where her mother was a principal, earned a BA in history from Middlebury College, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. She and her husband Chip have lived in Haines for over 35 years where they own a lumberyard and hardware store. They have five adult children and seven grandchildren (all Alaskans.)

Heather is involved in the Haines community on many levels, from sports events, recreation, and government (she is currently on the Haines Borough Assembly) to hospice care, public radio, the library, and the arts.

She is the recipient of the Alaska Governor’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities and the Episcopal Bishop of Alaska’s Bishop’s Cross Award.

Heather likes to hang out with her family, workout at the pool, ride her bike, and walk with her dogs and friends in all kinds of weather.

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