Alaska Reads 2017-18


Fairbanks Arts Association and Alaska Center for the Book are pleased to announce the Alaska Reads 2017-18 selection is…


A novel in poem form by Nicole Stellon O’Donnell

Steam Laundry is published by Boreal Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press and is distributed by Ingram Content Group.  If you would like to order Steam Laundry for your store, but do not already have an account with Ingram, visit their website or contact Alaska’s Ingram Sales Rep, Stephen Merritt, at 615-213-3026 or

 What is Alaska Reads?

Alaska Reads is a statewide reading initiative with the goal of bridging the vast distances of our state by bringing together a living Alaskan author with readers in a variety of communities and, in doing so, fostering interest and pride in Alaskan literature.

Alaska Reads began in 2015 through the efforts of 2015-17 Alaska State Writer Laureate, Frank Soos, and is a biennial program administered by Fairbanks Arts Association in partnership with Alaska Center for the Book. The program emphasizes publications by living Alaskan authors so that excitement is built around stories by Alaskans. During the winter months, the program focuses on garnering enthusiasm around the selected book and encouraging Alaskans to read the story. In the spring, the program culminates with a statewide tour by the author where individuals who have read the book have the opportunity to engage in dialogue with the author of the book.

Get your bookstore involved with Alaska Reads!



About Steam Laundry

Steam Laundry is a novel in poems based on the true story of Sarah Ellen Gibson, a miner’s wife during the Klondike and Alaska gold rushes. Her journey began as she followed her husband to Dawson City, Yukon Territory in 1898. She stayed there three years as the town’s boom and her marriage burned out. In 1903, she left her husband and sons to start over in Fairbanks, Alaska, with another man. Based on archival research and incorporating historical documents and photographs, the poems approach the past through the ghosts of correspondence. The poems, written in the voices of Gibson, her family members, and the people who knew her, take on love, loss, failure, and desire. Some confront the drama of failed marriages, troubled family relationships, and alcoholism. Others spin the dramatic details of hunting accidents and subarctic survival into compelling stories in verse. They embody the opposing voices of an era during which men and women struggled in different, but overlapping, universes. By staring at Gibson through the spectral lenses of the people around her, the documents she left behind, and the vision of a contemporary poet, the particulars of Gibson’s life are transformed into an exploration of the people history usually forgets. Steam Laundry offers the reader the chance to try on the dusty, mining-town overcoat of Gibson’s life.

About the Author

Nicole Stellon-O'DonnellNicole Stellon O’Donnell’s first collection, Steam Laundry, won the 2013 WILLA Literary Award for Poetry. Her next book, You Are No Longer in Trouble, a memoir-in-flash about being a teacher, a student, and a principal’s daughter is forthcoming in March 2019 from the Marie Alexander Series. Everything Never Comes Your Way, a collection of poems, will be published by Boreal Books in 2020.

Her poems have appeared  in Prairie Schooner, Passages North, Bellingham Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Women’s Review of Books, Redivider, Zyzzyva, and other literary journals. Her essays and commentaries appeared in the  Anchorage Daily News on the Alaska Public Radio Network. She received both an Individual Artist Award and an Artist Fellowship from the Rasmuson Foundation, as well as a Boochever Fellowship and an Alaska Literary Award from the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation. In 2014, she served the winter writer-in-residence at Denali National Park. She spent the spring of 2016 in South India as a recipient of a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching. She teaches English at a school for incarcerated youth. She lives in Fairbanks, Alaska.


Alaska Reads Events

Reading events and discussions of Steam Laundry are being organized now.  We hope to have Nicole Stellon O’Donnell visit as many communities as she is able in February and March 2018. We will expand Nicole’s reach through real-time online opportunities such as author readings or discussions through OWL, Google Hangouts, social media events, and more.

If you would like to set up a web-based reading and discussion with the author, social media event, or have questions about the program, contact or 907-456-6485 ext. 226.


Coming Soon:!

Coming soon, there will be a website dedicated entirely to the Alaska Reads program. will be the place to go for all program information and resources such as printable program fact sheets, a Steam Laundry discussion guide, flyers for local events, social media text to share, complete events schedule, and more. We will contact you again once the website has launched!

For more information about the Alaska Reads program, contact Fairbanks Arts at 907-456-6485 ext. 225 or