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Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Shopping for Porcupine  >  Author Talking
Q&A with Seth Kantner
Questions by UAA Professor and Writer Don Rearden 

Q: In Shopping for Porcupine you share some of your struggle with dyslexia. Can you talk a little more about what you've gone through to become the writer you are today?  What advice do you have for young writers with dyslexia? 

A: Advice to dislecksic young writters?:

Don't.  Same advice for everyone.  Unless you have to.  Stay outside, live, avoid computers. 

But, if you must write, write what you care about, you can hide your dyslexia better with those subjects. 
Pretend when you have to.  (Until you have to sign books and you suddenly can't fathom the difference between a "T" and an "F", or if Susan shortened is spelled Sue, Sew, or Soo.)

Q: The University of Alaska Anchorage chose Shopping for Porcupine as one of the books of the year for the 2009-2010 school year. This year the focus is climate change in Alaska.  What do you hope Alaskan students learn from studying your book?

A: That's up to them, there is already an abundance of climate change news out there.  I'd like people to get a feel for what life used to be like in this small part of the Arctic.  There's a lot of rhetoric about our state that I work to dispel.  And I'd like readers also to see the changes that have come north.

Q: If you could pose a question for discussion to the university students and faculty who read your book, what would it be?

A: My book covers roughly 50 years in the NW Arctic -- imagine it covered the next 50, too.  How do you see Alaska at the end of that century?

Q: Your books provide great starting points for healthy discussions about the growing chasm between urban and rural Alaska communities. You point to subsistence and resource development as two hot button issues -- in your opinion what other discussions do we need to have? 

A: Population invasion from the south.  We seem good at forgetting that Alaska's animals and fish and resources don't go on forever, that endeavors such as the Gas Pipeline and realities such as the world economy could well drown our state with millions more "Everything Wanters." What I'm questioning is whether rural and urban Alaskans constantly asking for what the other half has will lead us all to living with much less.

Q: What is your favorite photo in the Shopping for Porcupine? What is the story behind that favorite photo? 

A: I put a lot of my favorites in the book.  The double spread of hundreds of caribou all traveling east -- I like that one a lot.  It was an amazing spring, no caribou coming through, us out of meat, and then one day thousands on the river.  They marched through for 14 days, night and day.  Maybe 50,000.  At times I was surrounded on the ice, the whole river full of caribou upstream and down -- those particular photos were useless.


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