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Readers write: Letters to the editor, Sept. 3, 2014

Alaska Dispatch News
Chris Engelsma photo

AQR true UAA achievement 

I am a former poet laureate of the United States, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, and a presidential professor of creative writing at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. I can attest that literary magazines, like Alaska Quarterly Review, play an essential role in the cultural life of America. They are the foundation of the literary arts, the source of compelling new and diverse voices.

I look to Alaska Quarterly Review — and other top award-winning journals — when I select poems for American Life in Poetry, a free weekly newspaper and online column undertaken in partnership with the Library of Congress and the Poetry Foundation. These poems appear in more than 200 newspapers and have more than 3.5 million readers in print and online across the U.S. and 70 nations. We used another of Alaska Quarterly Review’s poems just this past week. 

For more than 30 years, Alaska Quarterly Review has contributed significantly to the literary arts in America, largely because of the talent, vision and dedication of its founding editor and editor in chief, Ronald Spatz. His success hinged on the University of Alaska Anchorage providing him and the magazine with autonomy and freedom of speech — cornerstones of artistic achievement. I hope that UAA’s leadership recognizes and appreciates the importance of funding and guaranteeing AQR’s autonomy.

-- Ted Kooser
Lincoln, Neb.

Begich ad pathetic attempt

Really? The worst thing Begich’s minions can dig up about Dan Sullivan is that a subordinate “should have caught” a mistake made by someone else before Dan was attorney general? Seriously? Pathetic.

-- Elyce K. D. Santerre, chair of Alaska Republican Party District 12,
Chugiak

Sullivan clueless on Alaska

I was listening to his response in the primary debate. It was clear that he did not have a clue. Sullivan sure came across as what he was, a foreign policy wonk who does not have a clue on Alaskan issues. Like them or not, Treadwell and Miller at least knew what the issues were.

I have my disagreements with Sen. Begich,  but I do know he knows Alaska, he knows the issues and I think he represents the state solidly on those.

Alaska only has three representatives. Some states can afford to have their senators be foreign policy wonks and jet set around the world doing whatever it is they do on those junkets. We already have one representative  missing in action  (and it isn’t Lisa Murkowski, I have disagreements with her as well, but she is there and knows those issues as well as Begich.)

So do you want someone who is placeholder  for Karl Rove or do you want a senator that represents Alaska? Like Walker, I may not like his social stances, but then you don’t have to do or follow any of them either, it’s a free country. When it comes to gun ownership and the state’s interests, he is not going to sell us out so he can try to get a gold star trying  for peace in Syria (yeah, right).

-- Gregory Schmitz 
Anchorage 

AQR vital to literary culture

I am writing because I was alerted by The Missouri Review of a recent report considering “reducing, or phasing out” the Alaska Quarterly Review. I think this would be unwise. As a literary scholar, I can tell you that your magazine publishes excellent short and medium form fiction that is award-winning, innovative, and vital to the health of our literary culture.  Furthermore, I can tell you that these magazines continue to be a vital foothold in a long literary trajectory — that is to say, a career — as you will see if you examine the careers of recent AQR authors Melinda Moustakis, Arna Bontemps Hemenway, and many others. As a writer, I know that agents read these reviews to discover new talent, and writers of literary fiction are encouraged to work harder to create collections of short stories and novels. 

I realize that such magazines often aren’t profitable, but they are necessary in light of a reading culture that is tending toward something of a shallow monoculture, reading “lowest-common denominator” books that are heavily marketed (take my word for it — I’ve worked in bookstores). AQR provides an antidote to this shallowing out of culture with its provocative and challenging fiction. Thus, I hope you work with the editors to transform the publication to be even better, rather than “reduce” or “phase out” one of our nation’s best literary reviews.

-- Steven Flores
Madison, Wisc.

Dyson bill protects innocent

I am in complete agreement with Sen. Fred Dyson in respect to the governor’s veto of his bill to remove unproved charges against our citizens from public access.  A recent case emphasizes the need for such a procedure:  a person is publicly accused of a shameful sexual act, his name and picture shown in the local news, and he loses two jobs as the police evaluate evidence against him.  Then surveillance camera records are released, which strongly indicate that the initial charges were false.

Now, I must admit that it is still possible for the police to find later evidence, which proves the accusation; if they do, proper charges will be filed, but if they do not, we have a person who probably will not be rehired by either former employer, and who may never be able to get another responsible job in Alaska if potential employers check police records.  “Innocent until proven guilty” has little meaning to one who is trapped in such a situation.

Do you imagine that your acquaintances, fellow employees, present and possible future bosses will accept the fact that there is no shadow lingering on your reputation when the smarmy details of the accusation are still a matter of public record?

 The guilty in our society have infinitely more legal protection than the innocent, and the ledger needs balancing.

-- Don Neal
Anchorage

Cut welfare to pun-people

I’m sick and tired of poor people on welfare. They should earn their keep by changing their names to, say:

Holly Wood Handouts
U.A. Prezbonus
Ambler Rhode
Petro Taxcuts
R.R. Extension
Sue Sitnahydro
Portia Nchorage
B.P. “Minnie” Feinz.

Couples can get in on the act, too. How about the Ferrys — Matt and Sue?

-- Geoff Kennedy
Anchorage

Cat story does not hold true

Although I appreciate the sincerity of Eric Treider’s recent essay urging Alaskans to see that “there is no ‘them’, just ‘us’ (ADN, Thursday),  I deplore the story that he uses as a parallel. In fact, it does not hold true.

Two cats placed in a cloth sack and set on fire have better things to attempt than to eliminate each other. Like two quarts of soda in a bag, they were jammed together and unable to get apart in order to free themselves, which they could not have done but, of course, they tried desperately. Their final scratching and clawing were not acts of enmity but expressions of their struggle to live, and of horrific pain. I can’t imagine a human enduring it serenely.

-- Doreen Ransom
Anchorage

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter for consideration, email letters@adn.com, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity.