January Literary Reading in the Bear Gallery

Literary Reading with Margaret Merritt

Saturday, January 15, 2022 at 6 pm

Fairbanks Arts is pleased to present a literary reading with Margaret Merritt.

This free event will start at 6 pm in the Bear Gallery. Attendance will be limited to 20 people and all attendees are required to wear a mask. This is an in-person only event.

Pre-registration for this event is required! Please register for the event here.

Margaret Merritt, Ph.D. has been a researcher for 50 years, studying animals, ecology and people—while the data bases have differed, the quest to uncover information, accurately place information in context, and draw reliable inferences is the same. She attended the University of California, Utah State University, and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Alaska. She has decades of experience in writing and publishing scientific literature, and has recently focused her research and writing on historical biographies. She has lived in Fairbanks since 1988.

Margaret states, “I like to bring forward stories of seemingly ordinary people who, like most of us, have flaws, and yet show remarkable characteristics that inspire us. I write to entertain, educate, enhance historical records, and to encourage the reader’s thoughtful reflection on issues of the past that remain relevant today.”

In this reading event, Margaret will be presenting on two of her biographies, Roshier H. Creecy: A Black Man’s Search for Freedom and Prosperity in the Koyukuk Gold Fields of Alaska and Joseph Strunka: A Česká Chicago Man’s Tale of Resilience. 

Roshier H. Creecy: A Black Man’s Search for Freedom and Prosperity in the Koyukuk Gold Fields of Alaska is an educational journey through a reformative and rapidly changing era in America’s history. This narrative is an important contribution to the historical accounts of the Koyukuk gold mining community in the first half of the 1900s because it adds perspective from an African American man and broadens our understanding of that time in the country. The narrative is interspersed with sidebars which describe the people, organizations, towns and living conditions he encountered, and the roles that political, cultural, and socioeconomic forces of the times played in his life story. 

Margaret writes, “When I began to research Roshier’s life, I found a man who objected to mistreatment during an era intent on retaining a racial hierarchy. As I dug deeper into his life and the time he lived in, I realized that the societal obstacles Roshier encountered 100 years ago, and his strategies to circumvent them, are present for men of color today, supporting William Faulkner’s axiom, ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’ Born in 1866, Roshier was in the first generation of African Americans who were free to migrate to new regions. His particular fork in the road from Virginia to the Klondike gold fields, which led him to prospect for gold in the remote upper Koyukuk region of Alaska, adds adventure to his story.”

Joseph Strunka: A Česká Chicago Man’s Tale of Resilience gives a detailed picture of what life was like for immigrants and first-generation Americans living in the Czech enclaves of Chicago in the early 1900s. Immigrants arrived in overwhelming numbers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, adding their skills and customs to the socioeconomic mix. The City of Lights heaved with hope, ambition and resolve. But, Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s had two faces—one was a veneer of glamor and prosperity, the other was an underbelly of crime and vice aided by corrupt politicians and police.  

Margaret adds, “In an inspirational sense, Joe’s story is of a poor, hard-luck son of immigrants beset by tragedy, who shows remarkable resilience, falls into deteriorating health with an onslaught of grief, and at last finds fulfillment and conditioned happiness. In a reflective sense, Joe’s struggle with relationships resembles issues common to most of us trying to understand others better.”

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact (907) 251-8386 or email literary@fairbanksarts.org.