As spring gradually breaks over the Southeast, Wrangell local and prolific poet Vivian Faith Prescott has released a pair of works, one a collection of poetry, the other a nonfiction “foodoir,” or a combination of recipes and a memoir.
Both books are the culmination of years of work, brought together in one product, Prescott said.
“I usually write every day. I can produce a lot of material I suppose,” Prescott, who has long co-authored the Planet Alaska column for the Capital City Weekly, said in a phone interview. “The pandemic obviously helped.”
The foodoir, “My Father’s Smokehouse,” was a book both about recipes and her father, who turns 82 soon, Prescott said. It was released by West Margin Press.
“It’s stories and recipes from my fish camp. It’s about life in Wrangell. Each section has a recipe,” Prescott said. “The recipes… I’m not like a chef, I’m a fish camp cook. It’s a bit more tongue in cheek.”
The book, in addition to the stories, covers harvesting, familiar ground for Prescott
“My whole life I’ve been harvesting. I grew up in a fishing family,” Prescott said. “I moved back to Wrangell in 2013 and established the fish camp with the intent of learning more about harvesting so I could pass it on to my children and grandchildren.”
Many of the recipes come from her interactions with her father, Prescott said.
“My dad is a fisherman. He’s the one I’m getting all my knowledge of smoking hooligan, smoking salmon, things like that,” Prescott said. “I organized it according to two seasonal cycles and that helped me place it in context. There’s two whole years, two cycles.”
Writing the recipes was the most demanding part of the affair, Prescott said.
“The hardest thing was writing the recipes, writing them up. I’m a poet,” Prescott said. “It’s very technical. I had to dissect the whole thing. My sister Tracy Martin helped.”
Prescott herself had some strong opinions about some of her favorites recipes, including fish tacos and including spruce tips in various recipes.
“I’m most fond of tacos as a food,” Prescott said. “I’m obsessed with spruce tips. I’ll put spruce tips in most anything.”
Her other book recently released by the Alaska Press Alaska Literary Series is “Old Woman With Berries in Her Lap,” a collection of poetry.
“This one has two of my poetry chapbooks. This is a large collection of my poetry,” Prescott said. “This is about the North American Sámi diaspora. They’re the Indigenous people of Scandinavia.”
The Sámi are a people from a region spanning northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, some of whom came to Alaska as part of a plan to start reindeer herding in the territory.
“It’s about searching for identity and being separate from your people,” Prescott said. “The Sámi people first came to Alaska with the Sheldon Jackson plan to introduce reindeer to Alaska. I’ve been writing probably about a decade about this topic.”
The collection of poetry also has pointers for other related things to look up, Prescott said.
“I’d say I’ve been putting the whole thing together the last three to four years. What I had to do was decide how I wanted to organize it,” Prescott said. “It’s kind of an educational book in a way because I have a lot of notes on, for example, the (Sámi) words for snow. There’s a lot of books and articles that I included in there so people could go look up more.”
Prescott said she has a number of other books she’s working on for the future.
“I’m always writing. I have probably three more manuscripts worth of poems,” Prescott said. “The one I’m shopping around now is about my relationship with salmon — fishing, the loss of salmon, etc.”
Both books are available online or from local bookstores such as Hearthside Books and Toys; Prescott encouraged readers to buy locally.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.