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John Messick

Writer. Educator. Storyteller. 

Author of Compass Lines: Journeys Toward Home


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


“Compass Lines explores that shimmering frontier between the exotic and the mundane, and in Compass Lines he tells his story wonderfully well. Messick's voice drew me in—it is wry, warm, and wise. To go or to stay? Messick reveals that the question is the thing, not mutable answers. I really enjoyed this book.”

— SARA WHEELER, author of Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica & The Magnetic North, winner of the Banff Adventure Travel Prize

“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


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

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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