Buxbaum ’14 Brings Storytelling Potential to Alaska

The Alaskan publisher and author will launch her first short story collection The Birthday Picture: and Other Stories on Aug. 31.
Posted on August 19th, 2021 by

For aspiring authors looking for a place to get their titles on bookshelves, Alaska is rarely their top destination. But far away from the metropolitan hubs of America, Gustavus Adolphus College alumna Caitlin Buxbaum ‘14 wants to give her fellow Alaskans a chance to get published, and in the process, change the way readers think about her home state. 

Founded by Buxbaum in 2019, Red Sweater Press aims to print a variety of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by authors in a state where local publishing opportunities are otherwise scarce. Buxbaum has published seven of her own poetry books through her press, with her first short story collection, illustrated by Briana Bloom ’14, coming Aug. 31. The book launch will be streamed live at 9 p.m. CDT on YouTube.

Buxbaum’s short story collection will be her eighth published work through Red Sweater Press.

Three of Buxbaum’s nine short stories were first published in Firethorne, the College’s arts and literary journal, and two more were written for an English class at Gustavus. “Like many other English majors at Gustavus, Caitlin was devoted to creative writing throughout her undergraduate career,” said English professor Rob Kendrick, “and it is a huge success for the English department when one of our graduates not only publishes her work but starts a press to promote the work of others. Caitlin will be an amazing mentor and advocate for other emerging writers and is a role model for current Gustavus student authors.”

However, her path to becoming an author and publisher has taken several turns since her Gustie years. In 2014, she graduated from Gustavus with a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese Studies and English, with an emphasis in creative writing. She then returned home to Alaska and wrote for the local newspaper, while writing creatively on the side, before switching gears to the classroom. But after substitute teaching, earning her master’s degree, and running her own classroom of middle schoolers, the time came to bring writing to the forefront of her work.

“I ultimately decided I had put off publishing long enough and that I wanted to do it myself. A lot of people have a prejudice against self-published books, but I was confident that I knew enough that I could do it. There was a lot to learn, there is still plenty I don’t know, but it’s been fun, and I hope I get to keep doing it for a long time.” 

What began as a means to publish her own writing has expanded to include manuscripts submitted from Alaska, New York, and Paris. However, Buxbaum has always wanted to keep the focus on her home state and the artists who live there. 

“I think a lot of creatives struggle up here, because there just aren’t the opportunities that there are in other places,” said Buxbaum. “So the more things like publishing companies or film companies we can have, the more likely it is we can keep people here. People should be able to do their creative work from where they want, not just the hubs like New York or LA.”

Kendrick agrees wholeheartedly. “I cannot overstate the importance of small presses like Red Sweater Press that offer publishing opportunities for authors who are frequently overlooked by bigger publishing enterprises.” 

Going forward, Buxbaum hopes to add employees and partner with more Gustavus students and alumni. Moreover, she hopes that Red Sweater Press will give local authors a space to write about topics that inspire them, not just Alaska-centric works about desolate landscapes that big name publishers are looking for.  

“I want to show people outside that yes, Alaska is a cool place, but we’re just like you, and we have just as much to offer. Not just because we’re from Alaska, but because there are creative people everywhere.” 

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
jakin@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

 

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