Take, for example, the Monarch Butterfly

“Against all probability, and with an indomitable will, there are beings who cross borders and travel thousands of miles in search of better condition of life. Take, for example, the Monarch butterfly.” –Olivia Barrionuevo

…It was January 15 when we were in Angangueo – when we saw the military truck pass through the tranquil town and thought it was incongruous – two days after Homero Gomez went missing. Two hundred volunteers were out searching the woods and fields and neighboring towns for him, while we wondered why the town felt so abandoned….

–Published in Stonecoast Review, Winter 2021

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So Darkly Bright

The sky was clear on the evening we boarded the ferry at Goose Bay. It would be a four-day journey by sea to Davis Inlet, with stops at coastal villages along the way. Northern Labrador is accessible only by ferry from June to October, and by ski plane and skidoo in winter. It is entirely roadless….

Published in Solstice, Winter 2020

And you will never read a more compelling documentary essay than “So Darkly Bright,” in which the author looks with deep empathy and historical understanding at the Indigenous People of Labrador, and at an ecosystem all but destroyed by colonialism and greed. –Richard Hoffman

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Dreaming Seals, Dreaming Sea Otters

Point Lobos… is a place to see seals, sea lions, and migrating grey whales, as well as otters, and is one of the most beautiful places on this earth, as beautiful as Big Sur, maybe more so.

From a distance, they seem lifeless– monstrous, tadpole-shaped sacs of blubber, as if disgorged from the sea like beached whales. The surf thrashes the shore, combers twisting like bodies in restless sleep….

Published in West Branch, Issue 94 Fall 2020.


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Marble House Project

It was at this time last summer that I began my three week residency at the beautiful Marble House Project, where I wrote my essay on marine mammals, forthcoming in West Branch journal.


My studio had a screened in porch where I did most of my writing. The swimming quarry was only a few yards away.



It was such a blessing to live and work in such a beautiful place with my cohorts, Melanie Greene, Luisa Valderrama, Ian Trask, Shipla Nandwani,  Hanne Gaard, Sugar Vendil, Leigh Gallagher, and Cole Carothers.


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Climate Justice and Community Renewal

Climate Justice and Community Renewal: Indigenous Just Transition

Chapter 2. “Grassroots Megadam Resistance at Muskrat Falls,” by Alexis Lathem

Routledge CJR flyer

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A Human Presence

Not too long ago, the field behind our home was planted every spring with industrial corn. Year after year, the tired soils, loaded with chemical fertilizers and liquid manure, produced their truckloads of No. 2 corn. Now and then a tractor would pass over the land, spreading its gossamer wings of poison, but I almost never saw a human being.



Zuti (left) and Rosie


Fartun (left) and Sumeya

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Where There is Light There is Water


From the top of a hill I looked down on a small bridge crossing a stream and over the forested hills under their mantle of rain clouds. A pile of logging debris and slash heaped on top of the bridge formed a barricade. It was raining gently. I stood and watched as a figure before the bridge was at work with a two-gallon jug of fuel and a butane lighter, attempting to set a fire….. …https://aboutplacejournal.org/issues/roots-and-resistance/regeneration/alexis-lathem/

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I am honored to be chosen as a fellow with the Black Earth Institute, a progressive think tank of artists and scholars dedicated to serving environmental and social justice through their art. The three-year fellowship will provide a stipend to support my work, as well as an opportunity to meet with the others fellows for an annual retreat in Black Earth, Wisconsin. Fellows also take turns editing the institute’s journal, About Place.



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Two Gorges

“When Francis met us at the train station in Labrador City, he had already been driving all night. The Trans-Labrador highway is a tire-shredding gravel track that cuts across the otherwise roadless province, connecting the iron ore mines of western Labrador to the Churchill Falls hydroelectric complex, and further east to Goose Bay on the Atlantic coast…” –Two Gorges: A River Journey, About Place, Political landscapes Issue.



Elizabeth and Francis Penashuae leading our expedition down the Lower Churchill River to Muskrat Falls, August, 1998.

In 1998, following the announcement of a proposal to build the second largest dam complex in the world on Innu land –Nitassinan–in Labrador, I joined a group of Innu leaders to paddle 200 miles of the river, from Churchill Falls to Muskrat Falls. After two decades of protests, the $11 billion dollar hydroelectric project at Muskrat Falls is under construction.


Muskrat Falls. Photo: Sara Sterling.

Gull Island rapids.


Francis lining our canoes over Gull Island rapids.



Lunch break at Lake Winikapau.


The Grand Falls of Labrador. Photo: Andy Brown, National Geographic.

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My Multimedia Mother

Thais Lathem with her three daughters, left to right, Fre, Alexis (me), and Laurie, in Italy, circa 1970.

“Of the many concerts I attended as a child with my mother, a classically trained violinist, the first I recall was neither a symphony nor a string quartet, but a chess match between John Cage and a reporter for the Saturday Evening Post. The pieces were wired to produce electronic sounds. My brother Niles, who was fourteen, was the scorekeeper…”

–My Multimedia Mother: Recollections from a Counter-Cultural Childhood, Gettysburg Review, Winter 2017.

“…flawlessly written….” ––The Review Review

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