A N D Y H O P E AWA R D It is the future. Alaska death metal is huge and the kids in the scene are steeped in Pan Arctic and Alaska culture like it was part of them. And it is cool. Not just in Alaska but globally. Eight of the twenty metal groups toured Europe last year and one band leader, (wearing the “beautiful quspek” her mom gave her), made the cover of an international rock publication. But it’s more than a music scene, the resulting style, attitude, and outfitting are a hip fusion of Alaska Native cultures and languages.
emblems, resulting in style, sound, and attitude. “…of the 20 or so active Alaskan death metal bands, 16 of them sing the bulk of their songs in an indigenous Native Alaskan language, the most popular being Yup’ik, Tlingit, Dena’ina and Iñupiaq.” The genius of the piece? Shafer’s rock critic persona, speaks with authority about potential reality and, amazingly, it rings true, even when pure concoction. For instance, the nonchalant narrator describes the integration of throat singing in Alaska metal bands, detailing the history, the performers, and how throat singing is used, giving no sign that this would be unexpected in the world of death metal.
Nathan Shafer’s winning piece “A Few Notes Concerning Alaskan Death Metal” is written in a Rolling Stone style of “aesthetic journalism.” The piece details essential components of fictional Alaska death metal groups like, “Blood Ground Conspiracy” “Alaskan death metal bands The Andy Hope Literary Award recognizes and “Dumpster Ravens.” The will often feature two female an outstanding piece of prose or piece relates to a larger group lead singers, and it is not poetry by a writer who has published of stories, titled “Non-Local.” uncommon for lead singers in Cirque during the previous year. Shafer says, “The stories are to break into minutes long Andrew, “Andy” Hope III, Xaastanch; Néech speculative fiction, set in a near throat singing breakdowns. Deiw, and of theSik’nax.ádi, X’aan Hít, was future Alaska, with a much They have yet to term the solo a political activist and a writer of prose larger population, dealing with styling of the death growling and poetry. In 2008, at the age of 58, Andy global warming and a new throat singer sub-form inside died after a brief battle with cancer. This relevance in the global culture.” of Alaskan death metal break award also recognizes Cirque’s efforts in Shafer says, “My down. The singing style is creating an exciting journal that provides utopian gesture in the stories called the Tikahtnu growl publishing opportunities for North Pacific is that the kids of Alaska have (Tikhatnu being the Dena’ina Rim writers. The first recipient was poet been taught all about Panword for Cook Inlet). Some Nancy Wood (2011) and the second Arctic and Native Alaskan refer to it as the death whispers recipient was Gretchen Brinck (2012). cultures in school for decades or curdling, some people give The Andy Hope Literary Award is the using video games, comic it the term yakkeling and treat brainchild of two Alaskan poets, Vivian books and digital storytelling. it like an Internet meme, with Faith Prescott and her daughter Vivian In the stories, every kid that rigid, ludicrous structures. The Mork, who practice the art of mentoring graduates high school in lead singers Tisha Provetchka with Alaskan artists and writers. Anchorage has taken at least a and Saline Sagpiaq of the band year of Dena’ina. Their parents Panderworld will break into took Dena’ina in high school. a beat-boxing throat singing They all used an old-fashioned 64-bit role-playing video competitive duets several times during a set.” game in school to learn about the shared history of Beringia and the Arctic.” The piece throbs with embedded cultural respect while fusing elements of soft, tech, and clever, such as: “Xiolle Shafer imagines this death metal culture that, while as Belle Cupun is known to wear very beautiful qaspeqs on being as counter-culture and revolutionary as it ought to stage – a picture of her wearing the one her mother gave be, creates fusions of cultural elements and revolutionary her as a birthday present at the Girdwood Forest Fair last
A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim