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There is a triumphant and satisfying feeling the first time one returns to a once-unfamiliar place and finally feels like it is home. When strangeness is shed and familiar patterns emerge, there is a deep sense of comfort that is the reward for those who venture into new places. When Carolyn Kremers moved alone to Alaska to teach in Tununak, a village on the Bering Sea, she faced the challenge of making a place for herself in the remote coastal town. Struck by both a sense of adventure and a painful longing for the familiar, she was forced to confront what it really meant to feel at home.
Upriver picks up on the story where Kremers’s previous book, Place of the Pretend People, left off, further exploring what it means to truly love a place and how it feels to return, like a salmon swimming upriver. Set in four distinct locations—Tununak, the Interior, the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta, and Fairbanks—Kremers uses poetry, music, Yup’ik language, and much more to tell her story. Infused with a sense of spirituality, the book will resonate with anyone who has found a new home beyond the familiar.
Carolyn Kremers is a poet, writer, and musician living in a cabin at the edge of Fairbanks, Alaska. She has been artist-in-residence at Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve and Denali National Park & Preserve. She is the author of Place of the Pretend People: Gifts from a Yup'ik Eskimo Village.