The "Winter & Spring" 2018 edition of the Alaska Quarterly Review (AQR) is set to be released on Friday with a powerful presentation by a local actress.

Vivian Kinnaird-Melde will read author Leesa Cross-Smith’s featured essay, “What are You?”

“The personal essay is about race and gender,” said AQR’s Editor-In-Chief Ron Spatz. “It’s about what it means to be a person in our society and how in our society race is being used as such a negative thing.”

A panel discussion will follow the reading at Friday’s launch party. Rayette Sterling, president of the Alaska Center for the Book, said the panel will be made up of “Alaskan women of color,” including herself. Those women will tell their personal stories of being asked such questions as, “You look ethnic. What are you?” And, “You look different from everyone else. Why?”

“I really hope it helps people’s hearts and mind to think about how you address people and that your words can matter. And, this sort of systemic racism that is pervasive in our culture and little things that seem unimportant can really impact someone’s life,” explained Sterling.

This edition of AQR reflects racial, social and cultural diversity in prose and poetry. The issue includes 13 short stories, six personal essays and poems from 30 poets. The authors are from all over the world and here in Alaska.

The launch party for AQR’s Winter & Spring 2018 edition is Friday, April 6 at 7 p.m. at the Writer’s Block Bookstore in Spenard.

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