‘Roughly for the North’

Poetry reading to feature recently published works by WWU alumna Carrie Ayagaduk Ojanen

Poet Carrie Ayagaduk Ojanen will be on the Walla Walla University campus, Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. for a reading of her work.

Ojanen’s book Roughly for the North was published by the University of Alaska Press in 2018. “If you lack bright wonder and sorrow dulls your heart, this collection will bring new life,” wrote Deborah Magpie Earling, director of creative writing at the University of Montana.

Ojanen is an Inupiat poet from the Ugiuvamiut tribe, which wintered on Ugiuvak or King Island, Alaska, through the 1960s until the United States government closed the local school forcing residents to relocate to Nome and other regions in Alaska. Ojanen grew up in Nome near her grandparents whose longing for their home inspired much of her work. She also writes of her childhood in Nome and her sense of place and subsequent displacement.

“I have looked forward to this beautiful book for a long time,” wrote Dan Lamberton, WWU professor of English. “Carrie Ojanen’s poems light up a place so few of us know; they see through the opacities of hard climates, long dark days, and rigorous means of survival. Ojanen illuminates her homeland with the powers of international forms and wide-ranging languages. She reveals her Inupiat northland to the lower countries. This is a very smart book about love for family and place, and about Ojanen’s determination to preserve what remains.”

At WWU, Ojanen will read with Mary Aparicio-Castrejón, a 2016 WWU graduate whose work has inspired young WWU writers to incorporate their places and families in their own writing. Aparicio-Castrejón has also most recently read with Washington state poet laureate Claudia Castro Luna in fall 2018.

Ojanen has a bachelor’s degree from WWU and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Montana. She and her husband, Andrew Cockerham, also a 2007 WWU graduate, have three children.

Listen to Ojanen read her poetry with Aparicio-Castrejón on Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. on the WWU campus in room 117 of the Administration Building, 204 S. College Ave., College Place. Parking is available at the corner of College Avenue and 4th Street in College Place.

Posted Jan. 15, 2019

Carrie Ojanen sitting in a chair in a library with a pad of paper and pencil.
Carrie Ayagaduk Ojanen graduated from WWU in 2007 with majors in English and French.
A photo of Ojanen's book cover Roughly for the North
Ojanen will read from her 2018 book Roughly for the North.