Alaska State Writer Laureate Nora Marks Dauenhauer sits at the dining room table in her Douglas home, a stack of books and a cup of tea in front of her. Behind her hangs a lithograph of Tlingit elder Jessie Dalton by R.T. Wallen, and, on the opposite wall, rows of family photographs. A line of windows runs along the back of the room, looking out toward Gastineau Channel. At the table, Dauenhauer thumbs through a dog-eared copy of one of her books, "Life Woven with Song," selects a poem called "Willie," written for her father, Tlingit master carver and fisherman Willie Marks, and begins to read. Her voice is soft and unhurried, a little wavery after 87 years of life, but measured and strong, with a gentle lilt of emotion.
Dauenhauer pauses after reading, then says many of her poems are based on family members.