Tom Sexton

Tom Sexton
English Department

MFA, University of Alaska Fairbanks; BA, Salem State College

Tom Sexton taught English at UAA for 24 years. He was an Alaskan poet and scholar who became the state's Poet Laureate in 1995, having been selected by the Alaska State Council on the Arts and confirmed by the Alaskan legislature.


 Autumn in the Alaska RangeAutumn in the Alaska Range

These are poems of the natural world, of light and dark and the changing of the seasons. We find Tu Fu chanting a poem deep in the Alaska Range, a man who becomes a bear during his morning walk, a world of light carved from a piece of ivory, and walruses in their home beneath the ocean deciding if they will offer themselves to a hunter. Not all of the poems are set in Alaska. There are poems about growing up in a decaying mill town, the suicide of the poet's mother and how the past is always with us. However, Sexton returns again and again to the conviction that the world itself is sacred -- an ancient belief we need to recover.

A Clock with No Hands A Clock with No Hands

These poems are visceral and evocative reminiscences of growing up in a decaying mill city in the 1940s and 50s. The relatives, the workers, the streets, canals, and old factories of Lowell, Massachusetts live again in Sexton's deft imagination. There are poems of the neighborhood and the family, of his father during hard times collecting scrap metal off the streets, Uncle Paul getting laid off, homages to waitresses and laundry workers, and the tree wherein are carved the names of a season of Boston Red Sox lineup. Many of the poems are sonnets, some free verse, and all show Sexton's eye for the telling detail.

 For the Sake of the Light: New and Selected PoemsFor the Sake of the Light: New and Selected Poems

This collection of new and selected poems opens a door on the essence of life in Alaska and Maine. Sexton divides his year between the two states, and he captures here the small but powerful sensual details of day-to-day life in these contrasting, yet similar, environs. His carefully crafted verse distills the birch and aspen, lynx and ptarmigan, and the snow on high peaks. Through his poems we thrill to experience encounters with the wild, the seasons, and the sublime landscape.