Skip to main content
Shopping cart: items Cart
Poet, nonfiction writer, and lifelong musician Carolyn Kremers moved to Alaska to teach in the remote Bering Sea coast village of Tununak when she was thirty-four. Her first book, Place of the Pretend People: Gifts from a Yup’ik Eskimo Village (a memoir), probed and celebrated that experience. Upriver continues the chronicle of Kremers’ personal journey deep into Alaska and the human soul. Mixing music, Yup’ik language, the natural world, honesty, and an intimate sense of the spiritual and the unobtainable, Kremers presents a cascade of poems made of beauty and pain. The poems fall into five settings—Tununak, the Interior, Shape-Shifting, Return to the Y-K Delta, and Fairbanks. Like salmon swimming instinctively upriver—toward home—this story confronts what it means and how it feels to love a person or a place, no matter the consequences.

84 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2013

Biography and Letters


University of Alaska Press image

View all books from University of Alaska Press


“What excites me about Carolyn Kremers’ Upriver: Just when you think you know where a particular poem has parachuted you into the vast terrain we call Alaska, everything shifts: foreground, background, attitude, mood, generation, gender, language and custom, a vast landscape and history deeply violated, deeply loved. Alaska herself—a sometimes cruel, everdemanding shape-shifting region—feeds, inhabits and haunts these pages. . . . This beautiful book—snow-packed, melting, thick with time, spiritualized with dashes of rhyme and dollops of dance and prayer—reads like a lyric break-through memoir of open and often discomforting discovery and brave self revelation.”

Al Young, former poet laureate of California and author of Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons

“A few writers are fortunate enough to discover a place that nurtures them and gives their work depth and meaning. . . . A smaller number seem to be able to capture the very spirit of a place. Carolyn Kremers is one of those rare writers and her place is Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and its people and to a lesser extent Fairbanks where she now lives. Somehow she has crossed the gulf that often separates people from people, language from language, culture from culture. This book is a roadmap to the heart of Alaska by a writer who has earned our attention.”

Tom Sexton, former poet laureate of Alaska and author of I Think Again of Those Ancient Chinese Poets

“How seemingly simple are the poems in Upriver, yet how profound; how dreamlike, yet how charged with reality, immediately and firmly grounded in the earth and human experience. The themes of this poetry are basic and multifaceted, the voice rich and resonant. I thank Carolyn Kremers for bringing this world, her world, in this way, in these words, to all of us.”

Pattiann Rogers, author of Wayfare

Finalist, Poetry

WILLA Literary Award

Table of Contents

“When the boat is built . . .”

    Sestina Kyrie
    The New Teacher
    The New Students
    Eskimo Dancing/Yurarluni
    Ancient Comb
    Dr. Seuss & the Department of Fish & Game
    What Scares Me
    The Language Keepers
The Interior
    At the Tetlin River
    Backcountry Unit #12
    All I Wanted
    Kass’aq with Nunivak Mask
    What I Did Not Imagine
    Before You Go
    Two with Spears
Return to the Y-K Delta
    Bethel at Christmas
    The Shortest Distance
    Freak Warm Weather
    After Reading The Business of Fancydancing
    The Egg House in Bethel
    When I Am 98
    Notes of a Beautiful Woman Living Alone
    At Ann’s Greenhouse
    Feeling and Knowing
    The Nature of Prayer
    Leaving Alaska



WILLA: WILLA Literary Award for Poetry

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press