The North Words Writers Symposium, originally set for the end of May, and then postponed to the end of August, is now going virtual. The new dates for Virtual North Words are August 2, 3 and 4, 2020.

Struggling with continued travel restrictions and limitations on our ability to have a properly safe and distanced conference, organizers decided this month to move in the direction of hosting a virtual event.  We are grateful that all announced 2020 faculty were supportive and will be available for virtual sessions hosted from Skagway and Dyea in early August.

Virtual Zoom sessions will be three hours daily, beginning on Sunday evening from Dyea, resuming on Monday afternoon in downtown Skagway, and wrapping up with the keynote by Bill Streever followed by a discussion panel on Tuesday evening from Dyea.

The full virtual schedule of panels and workshops is available on our North Words website:

The registration page on the site has been changed for Virtual North Words and is now open. Cost is $98 for all three sessions, or you may purchase individual days for $35 each.

This year’s special theme remains: “Writing at a Time of a Threatened Natural World.” We hope a large virtual audience will be able to participate and engage in several writing panels, a writing workshop, and a keynote address and discussion. Watch for updates leading up to the conference on our Facebook page: @northwordswritersalaska.

For questions, contact Jeff Brady at



Whether describing the science of extreme cold, hot, wind, or depth, scientist Bill Streever brings the natural world into crystalline focus made even more accessible by tapestries of tales which showcase those few with the courage and vision to go to the brink. The best-selling author of In Oceans Deep, Cold, Heat, And Soon I Heard a Roaring Wind lives on a sailboat with his family, researching issues from underwater sound to crayfish evolution to the restoration of the tundra. Currently along the Mexican coast, the former Alaskan will return to the north virtually as our special keynote author.

Heather Lende is a well-known Alaskan memoirist, author of four books including the recently released Of Bears and Ballots about her political travails in the Southeast Alaskan community of Haines.

Caroline Van Hemert, a scientist from Haines and Anchorage, is the author of The Sun is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds, a memoir tracing her epic journeys up the Inside Passage and across the Brooks Range.

Formerly of Skagway, M Jackson is a geographer, glaciologist, and author of The Secret Lives of Glaciers and While Glaciers Slept: Being Human in a Time of Climate Change.

Fairbanks poet Nicole Stellon O’Donnell’s first collection, Steam Laundry, won the WILLA Award in 2013; and her most recent book, You are Not Alone was published in March of 2019. Her third book Everything Never Comes Your Way is due out in 2020.

Anchorage firefighter and paramedic Bryan Allen Fierro is the author of Dodger Blue Will Fill Your Soul, an acclaimed short story collection about the Hispanic community of East Los Angeles.

Nerve, published in 2020 by award-winning, long-form journalist Eva Holland, offers a lens into debilitating fears and chronicles her daring campaign to confront them. She lives in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

The North Words staff is publisher-historian Jeff Brady, bookseller-publisher KatrinaWoolford, writer-educator Daniel Henry, and teacher-writer Kent Fielding.

North Words is an intimate gathering that mixes panel discussions about various aspects of writing and publishing with workshops, consultations, readings, and a variety of outdoor activities, culminating with a keynote banquet. While some of these elements will be missing this year, we still hope the North Words vibe will carry on in a virtual format.