Frank Soos

Frank-Soos-240x3002014 Alaska Literary Award

Frank Soos has taught English at the University of Alaska since 1986, and currently is Professor Emeritus. He has written many published works including books, short stories and essays. Currently he is working on the following projects:

The Team We Got, a book-length work of non-fiction, completed, currently under consideration by several small presses.

Unpleasantries, a collection of personal essays, currently under consideration by small and university presses.

One & One, a longer work of prose fiction to be completed in 2013-15. The World’s 100 Best Ideas, short prose pieces on 100 objects and ideas.

He is the winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and individual fellowship awards fromthe National Endowment for the Arts and the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

Following are selections from The World’s 100 Best Ideas:

“Around four years ago, I began this project as a mocking response to a mailer I received offering a course in just that topic, The World’s 100 Best Ideas, including a list of such items as rule of law, representative democracy, monotheism. My own ideas are more and less mundane, and have become more cryptic as the list has grown. I’m approaching seventy ideas I’m pleased with, and do intend to go for 100. Here are a few from the current year. I am offering these to various small magazines with mixed success.”

Flying Saucers

No, I don’t think I believe they’ve been here. But I want to. I want to hope that some beings, smarter, better, might come our way and straighten us out.

And supposing they aren’t very nice—as the movies suggest, warty, tentacled things—maybe that would be OK, too.

Something, I would ask them, just bring us something to focus the mind, open the heart.


We made these simple tests to learn if the wind could be our friend. That wind always seeming to be against us, knocking over our feeble efforts to make this place our own.

High up, playful, the wind made us offers: Come. Go beyond.


When my brother’s dog, that crazy dog bent on chasing every delivery truck coming down the road until it finally caught one, caught one and broke its jaw when it took hold of the truck and tried to bring it down, that same crazy dog, that one ran under our mother’s legs, knocked her over.

She got up crying a child’s tears. Our mother—fierce, tough, demanding we be tough—our mother impatient with the tears of others (I had never seen her cry)–now she wailed, “Tosha tripped me.”

Just then our father was in the hospital dying and trying not to die. Too often we wonder what pets might be good for.


Admittedly, we didn’t make the sea; it made us. But might it be to our credit that we recognized it for what it is: flashing, always, giver of life?

So when those first aspirants crawled out and away from all they knew, what were they thinking?

Foolish, too eager to make our way, here we are. We’ve made a mess of ourselves and the sea, too. No point in asking forgiveness, the sea won’t answer. It will always be the sea, it’s we who cannot go back. 


I have come to this place on the river not so much to find fish, but to find myself alone. Sometimes I hear the sound of the river, sometimes I hear the rattle of my line as it settles in the guides at the end of my cast. The fly makes a noise noiseless to my ears and drops onto the water.

Lately, I find I have less to say to others and more to say to myself. No need to say it aloud. No need for words. Just wade the river and fish to the point where thought itself will disappear.

The seen pop of a bubble, sound-not-sound.


Before we had words, maybe before we had tongues to speak them, we knew through our skins, our cabled nerves inside running there and back and back. Bringing us news of all the world offers: warm or cold, smooth or sharp, wet or dry.

And more: All we grasp arced across from flesh to flesh. Who are you? The press of pleasure, the slap of pain.

All we come to know but cannot say.