Lions in Winter event held Thursday

Ryan Meyer, Staff Reporter

Lions in Winter, a literary festival put on by Eastern’s English Department, saw its third guest in Joan Kane on Thursday evening over the virtual platform Crowdcast.

Kane is an Inupiaq poet who grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and studied at Harvard and Columbia. According to Kane’s page on, her poetry explores themes of “ecological, domestic and historical shifts.”

Hyperboreal, Kane’s 2013 collection of poems, won the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and selections from the book were read during Thursday’s events. Google Books’ review of the book says that “Through language, Hyperboreal grants forum to issues of displacement, lack of access to traditional lands and resources and loss of family that King Island people—and all Inuit—are contending with.”

Another of Kane’s books, The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife, received a positive review from another Lions in Winter presenter, U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.

“The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife is a groundbreaking collection of poems made of one long breath. The breath is enough to carry you the distance it takes to fly to the moon and return in one long winter night,” Harjo writes. “I have been looking for the return of such a poet. Joan Kane crafts poems as meticulous as snowflakes. She is visionary and the poems carry this vision with solid grace.”

The first half of the evening’s proceedings were dedicated to Kane reading selected poems as attendees were able to interact with one another using Crowdcast’s chat feature.

After a brief break, the final part of the discussion was a question and answer, where Kane was able to offer advice to aspiring students of poetry and literature.

“If you’re not responding to whatever it is that you’re studying if you’re not responding to the texts that are brought before you or the readers that you’re in conversation with, think about the physicality of the act of writing itself,” Kane said. “Don’t doubt that process.”

Colleen Abel, an instructor of English at Eastern, agreed with Kane’s advice to consider physically writing in order to connect more with literary material.

“There’s been a real sort of theme of that tonight, the corporality of writing, of language, of embodying the poetry as a way of getting it out,” Abel said.

Abel also said she appreciated the unique route that Kane took to get to where she is as a poet today.

“I’m always fascinated by the journeys that poets take to poetry but I also think when they diverge from [that] traditional sort of, ‘Well, I studied poetry and then I got an MFA and then I got a job teaching poetry,’ there can be a lot of insularity there, and you’ve done all these other things and I just think that’s really fascinating,” Abel said to Kane.

Kane said that she isn’t working on poems right now when asked what she is currently writing.

“I feel pretty spent in terms of the lyric, so I don’t know when I’ll have another book of poems, actually I haven’t written a poem in a long time,” Kane said, noting that she is currently working in prose.

Kane’s next book, Dark Traffic, is available September 14, 2021, according to her website,


Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]