Joan Kane

Joan KaneConnie Boochever Award, Literary Arts, 2009
Alaska Literary Award, 2014

Joan Naviyuk Kane is the author of The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife and Hyperboreal. She has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, the USA Projects Creative Vision Award, an American Book Award, the Alaska Literary Award, and fellowships from the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska State Council on the Arts, Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation and the School for Advanced Research.

Kane graduated from Harvard College, where she was a Harvard National Scholar, and Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where she was the recipient of a graduate Writing Fellowship. Inupiaq with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo, she raises her children in Anchorage, Alaska, and is a faculty mentor with the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Joan Naviyuk Kane’s Hyperboreal was selected as a winner of the Thirty-Fifth Annual American Book Awards. Hyperboreal was selected as a finalist for PEN Center USA Literary Award.

Point Transience

Under winter and below a hill of thin blue clay
the waves were high and rising, water
turning back, folding over and opening

into an ebb more precise than absent—
The hood of his coat a distant bloom
when she began to weep for him,

his sled trace a sulcus hard and frozen in.

For her I sought and gathered wood—
dry willow twigs, a jettisoned mast,
sticks staged for hanging damp packs

of garments to take notice of the wind—

Let us plait our smoke thick into the pitched sky.

When the World Was Milk

Seized between breaths the hard mother of the brain— twice pierced through, atremble too with the anesthetist’s imprecision. I

could not walk for days
but fed, or tried to feed, shuffling flowers
stiff and white and dry as paper

for I could not lift a pitcher to refill
the water drawn out beneath them.
Men surround me, or will, all yellow

sclera, thunder, & fallow.

Vanishing Point

He fixes in my heart
the small hard pebble—
we speak a language with no one else.

A grid of lights gave
way to another body,
thin relief of land beneath
too little snow and no

sea ice, neither shore-
fast nor in pans between
the swells. I have watched
other women twist their locks

into gleam and gloss
and have swallowed
every word I should know:
a battery, passel, past.