Alaska State Writer Laureate holds workshop in Kodiak

Writer Ernestine Hayes. (Photo by Kayla Desroches / KMXT)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Author, English professor and Alaska State Writer Laureate Ernestine Hayes is visiting Kodiak.

She held a writer’s workshop yesterday.

Hayes lives in Juneau, where she teaches at the University of Alaska Southeast. She also wrote two memoirs which, together, cover her childhood, her move to California as a teen, and her return to Alaska at the age of 40.

Hayes overcame homelessness to eventually bring her family to the state and earn her college degree.

She published her first memoir, “Blonde Indian” in 2006.

“My book begins when I was girl growing up in a village, my grandmother taught me songs. Blonde Indian was one of the songs she made up because I had light colored hair when I was a girl. It did transition to brown, but now, as you can see, it’s getting light again. So, I’ll have to write a book called Grey Indian.”

She published her second memoir, “The Tao of Raven” in 2016.

Hayes says she may explore prose poetry next. It’s a mode of writing she believes is suited to common human experience.

“And when we think of our human experiences, we don’t do so with clarity and even understanding, and I want to write words that evoke those sentiments and passions and feelings from the reader.”

Hayes thinks prose poetry will tap into the rhythm of the spoken word in a way not necessarily limited to lines and verse in a traditional poetry format.

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