Four Alaskans with a passion for literacy and the literary arts are recipients of the 2012 Contributions to Literacy in Alaska (CLIA) Awards.
Honorees are Barrow literacy champion Sandy Solenberger; Fairbanks librarian Greg Hill; Anchorage poet Tom Sexton; and Rachel Epstein, special events coordinator for the University of Alaska Anchorage Campus Bookstore. The CLIA Awards, now in their 20th year, are presented by the Alaska Center for the Book, the state affiliate of the U.S. Library of Congress Center for the Book.
The awards go to people and institutions who have made a significant contribution in literacy, the literary arts, or the preservation of the written or spoken word in Alaska. More than 55 people and organizations statewide have been honored over the past 20 years.
Solenberger was selected for her volunteer work with the Tuzzy Consortium Library, Best Beginnings, the Imagination Library and Friends of the Library in Barrow. Her focus on literacy for young children reaches outside Barrow to seven villages across the North Slope.
Hill, director of the Noel Wien Public Library in Fairbanks, was nominated for his creation of “Guys Read,” aimed at increasing readership among fourth grade boys in Fairbanks. The humorous and innovative program has spread to other communities in the Interior, and to a “Gals Read” program as well.
Sexton has celebrated Alaska and poetry for decades. The former UAA professor helped establish the school’s creative writing program and served as Alaska’s poet laureate in 1995. He is the author of 11 collections of poetry; “Bridge Street at Dusk” is his most recent.
Epstein organizes events at the UAA Campus Bookstore, and enthusiastically promotes Alaskan writers and writing. She brings a steady line-up of Alaskan authors to the attention of the campus and Anchorage community, as well as events for students and amateur writers.
The CLIA Awards will be presented Tuesday, July 17 at the UAA Fine Arts Building. A dessert reception begins at 7:30 p.m., followed by a brief awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Immediately afterwards, authors Sherry Simpson and Andromeda Romano-Lax will present readings as part of the Northern Renaissance Arts and Science Reading Series, held in conjunction with the MFA program in creative writing at UAA’s Department of Creative Writing and Literary Arts. The events are free and open to the public.
Founded in 1991, ACB is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization. ACB participates in Reading Rendezvous, Letters About Literature, the National Book Festival, Alaska Native/American Indian Heritage Month, and more. For information, see www.alaskacenterforthebook.org/.