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John Messick

Writer. Educator. Storyteller. 

Author of Compass Lines: Journeys Toward Home


Available Now!

“In Compass Lines, from story to story, John Messick's writing takes you somewhere more interesting and improbable and profound than the last. Messick captures in exquisite detail how exploring some of the last wild places on the planet helped him discover himself. Compass Lines is at once a wild globe-trotting adventure, love story, and a beautifully introspective journey revealing the importance of our human connection with nature—all tied together with heart-strings and a good old fashioned Alaska-style blue tarp and some duct tape. The masterful storytelling and sage-like wisdom in Compass Lines makes for one helluva a compelling read. Easily one of my favorite collections in years.”

—Don Rearden, author of The Raven's Gift

“My wife and I read Compass Lines aloud and savored it daily: the outrageous adventures, the deep honesty, the light touches of humor and so much more. It made us laugh and cry and stare at each other in wonder. Mostly though, it enriched us and inspired meaningful conversation, as the best books often do.”

- KIM HEACOX, author of The Only Kayak and Rhythm of the Wild


Order your copy through Porphyry Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookstore

Listen here to the winners of the 2021 Kenai Peninsula Writers Contest read their work on Kenai radio station KDLL 91.9. John's essay "Other Bloods" earned first prize, and is included as a chapter in Compass Lines

Check out an interview on the Kenai Conversation with Sabine Poux, KDLL 91.9 FM, where John discusses the writing process and background for his work. 

Compass Lines introduces the work of an important new voice in Alaska literature. In this mix of memoir, travel, and nature writing, Messick eschews the bravado of the adventurer tale, and instead invites us into the introspective root of his own restlessness, ultimately finding the home and connection he seeks in Alaska. Messick’s stories are beautifully told—whether relating his travels in Damascus and Antarctica, canoeing the swamps of Florida, or working on fire crews throughout the Southwest and Alaska, Messick is a skilled storyteller. But it’s his self-reflection and humility that gives this book such depth and wisdom. A pleasure to read!”

-DARYL FARMER, author of Where We Land and Bicycling Beyond the Divide.

In The Press


John Messick photo by Jeremy Pataky-8.jpg

John Messick is a writer, teacher, husband, and father. His work has appeared in news outlets and literary journals, including Rock & Sling, Tampa Review, Nowhere Magazine, The Miami Herald, Anchorage Daily News, and more. John earned his MFA at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and has been awarded the 2013 AWP Intro Journals Prize in nonfiction and a 2022 Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award. He teaches composition at Kenai Peninsula College in Soldotna, Alaska, where he lives with his family. Compass Lines is his first book.



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