Oct. 4, 2018–Kathleen Tarr–We Are All Poets Here

Kathleen Witkowska Tarr’s book We Are All Poets Here (VP&D House, 2018) is narrative nonfiction, part-memoir, part-biography, which involves Thomas Merton and his 1968 surprise sojourn to Alaska.

Alaska was one of the last places the Trappist monk and spiritual thinker saw before he met his tragic, accidental death in 1968.

Kathleen is a long-time Alaskan and nonfiction writer who has lived in many parts of the state. Her work has appeared in a wide range of literary and commercial publications, including contributions to the anthologies, We Are Already One, 1915-2015, Thomas Merton’s Message of Hope (Fons Vitae Press, 2015), and Merton & the World’s Indigenous Wisdom (2018).

Kathleen currently sits on the board of the Alaska Humanities Forum. For two years she served as a Mullin Scholar at USC’s Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies, and is a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Kathleen was named a William Shannon Fellow by the International Thomas Merton Society and is the founder of the Alaska Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society. Kathleen earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Pittsburgh in 2005.

She lives and writes in Anchorage under the shadow of the Chugach Mountains.

Photo of Kathleen Tarr

Kathleen Tarr


Sept. 13, 2018–Keenan Powell–Writing What Matters: how a real life murder mystery inspired me to spend hundreds of hours writing a manuscript with no reason to believe it would ever be published

After illustrating Dungeons and Dragons, I ditched art for law school, and moved to Anchorage the day after graduation. As a young pup, I associated with M. Ashley Dickerson, Phillip Weidner, and Edgar P. Boyko, and then went out my own, providing criminal defense representation including the infamous walrus round-up case and the murder trial of Tracy McCracken, a paraplegic charged with murdering his personal care attendant.

In 2009, there was a string of homeless deaths, which the Alaska Medical Examiner had ruled were the result of “natural causes.” While attending a legal seminar, I learned of a little-known law that permits the medical examiner to declare death by natural causes without performing an autopsy. These deaths and that loophole inspired me to write Deadly Solution.

Based upon that manuscript, I won the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic grant in 2015, which led to my introduction into the crime-fiction community and ultimately a three-book deal. Deadly Solution was published in January of 2018. Hemlock Needle, inspired by Native corporation contracts, is scheduled for release in 2019. Hell and High Water, a “country estate” mystery, set in a Seward ecolodge socked in during a pineapple express, will be published in 2020.

Keenan Powell

Keenan Powell