Contemporary Poetry from the Pacific Ocean (Hawai’i & “U. S. A. unincorporated territories”)

Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 11.13.48 PM  Course Map

    1. Access-the-Course-Map for Students New to Coursera online and SloPo Courses
    2. Course Overview with Sample Poems and Sample Discussion Thread
    3. The Library
    4. Week One and Two Materials: Ethnopoetics & Shaking the Pumpkin
    5. Jerome Rothenberg Assemblage of Materials: From Ethnopoetics to his own poetry and his work on A Big Jewish Book — texts, audio, video. 
    6. The Q&A with Jerome Rothenberg
    7. Week Three Materials: Contemporary American Indian Poetry
    8. Week Four Materials: Pacific Islander Poetry 
    9. Week Four Materials: Contemporary Caribbean Anglophone Poetry
    10. Week Five Materials: Contemporary African-American Poetry
    11. Week Six Materials: Contemporary Latinx-American Poetry and Performance
    12. Week Seven Materials: Contemporary Asian-American Poetry
    13. Week Eight Materials:  The Ghazal, Contemporary Middle-Eastern and South-Asian Poetry

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Contents to be scrolled through below: 1) Zoom Discussion Recordings, 2) “New Pacific Islander Poetry” (an introductory essay by Craig Santos Perez), features on poets 3) Brandy Nālani McDougall, 4) Lisa Linn Kinae, 5) Craig Santos Perez, 6) Dan Taulapapa McMullin, 7) a poem by Joe Balaz, 8) a photo essay on the Pacific Ocean, and 9) a link to an album of collaborative song-poems between Hawai’ian and Jamaican poets and musicians.

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ZOOM live group discussion recordings

3-21-2020 11am Craig Santos Perez “A Whole Foods in Hawai‘i” by Craig Santos Perez “He Mele Aloha no ka Niu” by Brandy Nālani McDougall  on March 21, 2020 from 11am on.  Duration  3:32:16.

March 22 2020 Talk with Craig Santos Perez

Craig Santos Perez joined ModPo SloPo’s class on Indigenous, Immigrant, and Multilingual American Poetry to discuss his poem/video “Oceania” and other matters. There were a number of technical snafus, as seen as well in the above video, but we did our best as ZOOM amateurs all!  Duration 2:29:21.


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New Pacific Islander Poetry by Craig Santos Perez _ Poetry Magazine_Page_01

New Pacific Islander Poetry by Craig Santos Perez _ Poetry Magazine_Page_02

New Pacific Islander Poetry by Craig Santos Perez _ Poetry Magazine_Page_03

New Pacific Islander Poetry by Craig Santos Perez _ Poetry Magazine_Page_04

New Pacific Islander Poetry by Craig Santos Perez _ Poetry Magazine_Page_05

New Pacific Islander Poetry by Craig Santos Perez _ Poetry Magazine_Page_06

New Pacific Islander Poetry by Craig Santos Perez _ Poetry Magazine_Page_07

New Pacific Islander Poetry by Craig Santos Perez _ Poetry Magazine_Page_08

New Pacific Islander Poetry by Craig Santos Perez _ Poetry Magazine_Page_09

Click here to go to the special Poetry magazine published folio (at the page you arrive at, scroll down to reach the “New Pacific Islander Poetry section).

Click here (or on any of the images of pages above) to go to the online resource that “features a robust series of links to authors [over 50!] and essays.”

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Brandy Nālani McDougall


Bio: Born and raised on Maui, Brandy Nālani McDougall earned a BA from Whittier College and an MFA from the University of Oregon and is a PhD candidate at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She also studied at the University of Auckland. McDougall is the author of the poetry collection The Salt-Wind / Ka Makani Pa‘akai (2008) (highly recommended – JZ) and the scholarly monograph Finding Meaning: Kaona and Contemporary Hawaiian Literature (2016). Her writing appears in Effigies: An Anthology of New Indigenous Writing (2009), edited by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke. In a review of McDougall’s work, Craig Santos Perez says, “She wrestles with historical and contemporary colonialism in her homeland through the themes of language, education, and exoticism. … McDougall seamlessly weaves together Hawaiian language and English to create a complex, bilingual texture.” McDougall teaches at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.


He Mele Aloha no ka Niu 

by Brandy Nālani McDougall


I’m so tired of pretending

each gesture is meaningless,

that the clattering of niu leaves

and the guttural call of birds

overhead say nothing.

There are reasons why

the lichen and moss kākau

the niu’s bark, why

this tree has worn

an ahu of ua and lā

since birth. Scars were carved

into its trunk to record

the mo‘olelo of its being

by the passage of insects

becoming one to move

the earth, speck by speck.

Try to tell them to let go

of the niu rings marking

each passing year, to abandon

their only home and move on.

I can’t pretend there is

no memory held

in the dried coconut hat,

the star ornament, the midribs

bent and dangling away

from their roots, no thought

behind the kāwelewele

that continues to hold us

steady. There was a time

before they were bent

under their need to make

an honest living, when

each frond was bound

by its life to another

like a long, erect fin

skimming the surface

of a sea of grass and sand.

Eventually, it knew it would rise

higher, its flower would emerge

gold, then darken in the sun,

that its fruit would fall, only

to ripen before its brown fronds

bent naturally under the weight

of such memory, back toward

the trunk to drop to the sand,

back to its beginnings, again.

Let this be enough to feed us,

to remember: ka wailewa

i loko, that our own bodies

are buoyant when they bend

and fall, and that the ocean

shall carry us and weave us

back into the sand’s fabric,

that the mo‘opuna taste our sweet.


Please watch:

Ola (i) Na Moolelo: Living Moolelo: Brandy Nālani McDougall speaks at TEDxManoa (16:56)

niu leaves  — coconut leaves
kākau — tattoo
ahu — Heap, pile, collection, mound, mass; altar, shrine, cairn; a traplike stone enclosure made by fishermen for fish to enter; laid, as the earth oven.
ua — Rain; to rain; rainy. See rain. Rain was beloved as it preserved the land; it was called kāhiko o ke akua, adornment of deity. also, demon.
— Sun, sun heat; sunny, solar. See ex., lolo, brain.
mo‘olelo — Story, tale, myth, history, tradition, literature, legend, journal, log, yarn, fable, essay, chronicle, record, article; minutes, as of a meeting. (From moʻo ʻōlelo, succession of talk; all stories were oral, not written.) Puke moʻolelo aupuni, public records
kāwelewele — Ropes, especially those attached to ʻiako, outrigger booms, to assist in righting a capsized canoe; lines attached to a fish net; person or canoe at the head of a line being pulled. Fig., to recall something almost forgotten; dim memory. Also kākāwelewele. ʻO Kama ke akua i ke kāwelewele, Kama was the god [who held] the end of the rope being pulled. Ā i loaʻa hoʻi ke kāwelewele, pono iki nō ia manawa, when an almost forgotten thought is recalled, it helps a little for the time being.

ka — Definite singular article replaced by ke before words beginning with a, e, o, and k, and before some words beginning with the glottal stop and p (ka ʻaka, the laugh, ke ʻala, the fragrance; ka pā, the yard, ke pā, the dish).

wailewa — Coconut water. Lit., hanging water. See riddle.

i —  To, towards, at, in, on, by, because of, for, due to, by means of.


1. loc.n. In, inside, within; interior, mainland, inside; internal organs, as tripe, entrails (Gram. 8.6). I loko, into, inside, on or to the mainland. I ka moe ʻana o loko o ka hale (FS 259), while those in the house slept. Ua lawe nui au no loko aʻe o kēia mau kānāwai, I have taken much from within these laws. Kō loko, those inside. Mea o loko, things inside, contents. ʻO ka inaina i loko o kekahi hana hewa, malice in respect to the commission of any offense. Make na loko, death caused by own relatives, or failure to observe one’s taboo gods; lit., inside death. hoʻo.lako To insinuate, suggest, implant a thought, either good or bad. (PPN loto.)

2. n. Character, disposition, heart, feelings. Cf. loko hāikiloko ʻinoloko liʻulokomaikaʻi. (PPN loto.)

3. n. Pond, lake, pool.

mo‘opuna — Grandchild; great-niece or -nephew; relatives two generations later, whether blood or adopted; descendant; posterity.
Glossary was generated using Hawai’ian to English / English to Hawai’ian dictionary —

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Lisa Linn Kanae


Bio from “Lisa Linn Kanae was born and raised in Kapahulu, Oahu, and is of Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino descent. She left a job as an executive secretary to pursue literature, earning both a BA and an MA from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She is the author of the chapbook Sista Tongue (2003), a hybrid work that collages poetry and prose, English and Pidgin and weaves together personal narrative and the social history of Pidgin. Kristin Kaelinani Gonzales designed the book’s innovative font and graphic style. Sista Tongue has been required reading for courses at the University of Texas, Lewis & Clark College, Willamette College, and others. Kanae is also the author of the short story collection Islands Linked by Ocean (2009). In 2010, Kanae received the Cades Emerging Writer Award for Literature. She teaches at Kapiʻolani Community College and is the editorial assistant for ‘Ōiwi: A Native Hawaiian Journal.”

JZ: SistaTongue is a carefully printed book, in a square format. The cover is purple and rough, like construction paper. Below, I scanned pages from the book, and slightly darkened them to make them distinct as pages. I also took a page from a few pages earlier and put it last. Finally, several pages were sideways, 90 degrees turned, and I turned them so the text would read horizontally for ease. (It’s easier to turn a small square book that a computer to read the turned text!) I’m excited to hear from all of you about your responses to the text itself as well as the formatting and the inclusion of archival materials — in my opinion, this is documentary poetics at its best. The pages in the book are not numbered, but I’ve produced about 60% or so of the contents here below for you. And I’m curious to learn what you think of this as a “poem” — is this a poem? a lyric essay? an exhibition? all of the above?.

More about Lisa Linn Kanae:

A review of SistaTonguereview_of_Sista_Tongue_by_Lisa_Linn_Kanae by Juliana Spahr


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Craig Santos Perez



Bio: Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamoru (Chamorro) from the Pacific Island of Guåhan/Guam. He is the co-founder of Ala Press, co-star of the poetry album (Hawai’i Dub Machine, 2011), and author of three collections of poetry: (Tinfish Press, 2008), (Omnidawn, 2010), and (Omnidawn, 2014). He has been a finalist for the LA Times 2010 Book Prize for Poetry and the winner of the 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry. He is director of the Creative Writing program and an assistant professor of English at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa, where he teaches Pacific literature and creative writing. He maintains his own blog, and has blogged for Harriet.

At the very end, I have placed a short review that appeared in the magazine Poetry of one of Santos Perez’s books.

July/August 2016: “Fear of Flying (in Broken Gilbertese)”
July 1, 2016   The editors discuss poems by Daniela Danz, translated by Monika Cassel; plus, an interview with Craig Santos Perez on Pacific Islander poetry, and poems by Teresia Teaiwa and Brandy Nālani McDougall. 

Here’s a pdf of some of the material below:  CraigSantosPerezMaterials



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“Praise Song For Oceania,” poem by Craig Santos Perez, film by Justyn Ah Chon

Praise song for Oceania

(on June 8, 2016, World Oceans Day)

Ocean, we // had been your griot. (Brenda Hillman)



your capacity

for birth / your fluid

currents and trenchant

darkness / praise your contracting

waves & dilating

horizons / praise our briny

beginning, the source

of every breath / praise

your endless bio-

diversity / praise

your capacity

for renewal / your rise

into clouds and descent

into rain / praise your underground

aquifers / your rivers & lakes,

ice sheets & glaciers / praise

your watersheds &

hydrologic cycles / praise

your capacity

to endure / the violence

of those who claim dominion

over you / who map you

empty ocean to pillage / who divide you

into latitudes & longitudes /

who scar your middle

passages / who exploit

your economy* / praise

your capacity

to survive / our trawling

boats / breaching /

your open body /

& taking from your

collapsing depths / praise

your capacity

to dilute / our sewage

& radioactive waste /

our pollutants & plastics /

our heavy metals

& greenhouse gases / praise

your capacity

to bury / soldiers & terrorists,

slaves & refugees / to bury

our last breath

of despair / to bury

the ashes of our

loved ones / praise

your capacity

to remember / praise

your library of drowned

stories / praise your museum

of lost treasures / praise

our migrant routes

& submarine roots / praise

your capacity

to penetrate /

praise your rising tides

& relentless storms & towering

tsunamis & feverish

floods / praise

your capacity

to smother /

schools of fish & wash them

ashore to save them

from our cruelty /

to show us what we’re

no longer allowed to take

/ to starve us like your corals

are being starved & bleached /

like your liquid lungs

choked of oxygen / praise

your capacity

to forgive / please

forgive our territorial hands

& acidic breath / please

forgive our nuclear arms

& naval bodies / please

forgive our concrete dams

& cabling veins / please

forgive our deafening sonar

& lustful tourisms / please

forgive our invasive drilling

& deep sea mining / please

forgive our extractions

& trespasses / praise

your capacity

for mercy / please

let our grandfathers and fathers

catch just one more fish / please

make it stop raining soon / please

make it rain soon / please

spare our fragile farms & fruit trees / please

spare our low-lying islands & atolls / please

spare our coastal villages & cities / please

let us cross safely to a land

without war / praise

your capacity

for hope /

praise your rainbow

warrior & peace

boat / your hokuleʻa

& sea shepherd / praise

your arctic sunrise & flotillas

of hope / praise your nuclear free

& independent pacific movement /

praise your marine stewardship

councils & sustainable

fisheries / praise your radical

seafarers & native navigators /

praise your sacred water walkers /

praise your activist kayaks

& canoes / praise your ocean

conservancies & surfrider foundations /

praise your aquanauts & hyrdolabs /

praise your coastal cleanups

& Google Oceans /

praise your whale hunting

& shark finning bans /

praise your sanctuaries

& no take zones / praise

your pharmacopeia of new

antibiotics / praise your wave

and tidal energy / praise your

#oceanoptimism & Ocean

Elders /praise

your capacity

for echo

location / our names for you /

that translate

into creation stories

& song maps

tasi & kai & tai & moana nui & vasa &

tahi & lik & wai tui & daob & wonsolwara /


your capacity

for communion /

praise our common heritage /

praise our pathway

& promise to each other / praise

our endless saga / praise our most powerful

metaphor / praise this vision

of belonging / praise your horizon

of care / praise our blue planet,

one world ocean / praise our trans-oceanic

past, present & future flowing

through our blood /.1


1 Phrases are quoted from or inspired by various scholars and poets, including Epeli Hauʻofa, Derek Walcott, Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Rob Wilson, Peter Neill, Sylvia Earle, Édouard Glissant, and Albert Wendt. The words chanted are the words for ocean in various Pacific languages. The epigraph is from Brenda Hillman’s poem, “The Pacific Ocean,” from her book Practical Water (Wesleyan University Press, 2009), 26. The gross marine product of the ocean is 2.5 trillion dollars.


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From “understory”


For my wife, Nālani, and our daughter, Kaikainali‘i, on her first birthday


nālani clips

kaikainali‘i’s tiny

fingernails while

she sleeps —

“the rape

of oceania

began with

guam” — soldiers

invade okinawa,

hawai‘i, the

philippines, and

south korea —


how do

[we] stop

kaikainali‘i’s body

from becoming

target practice —

bullets fragment

and ricochet —

nālani brushes

kaikainali‘i’s hair

when she

wakes, sings

the names

of body

parts in

hawaiian language —

who will

remember the

names of

girls disappeared

from reservations

and maquiladoras

from villages

and schools

#mmiw #mmaw


nālani gathers

the clippings

because even

[our] nails

are ten

percent water —

outside, mānoa

rain falls

as large

as eggs —

inside, nālani

lies on

her side

to breast-

feed kaikainali‘i

in bed —

they fall

asleep facing

each other,

still latched —

i nestle

with them

and, for

a moment,

kaikainali‘i smiles —

what does

she dream

about? her

deep breath

rises and

falls like

king tides —

her fragile

rib cage

appears and

disappears like

a coral

island crowning —

my daughter,

i know

our stories

are heavier

than stones,

but you

must carry

them with

you no

matter how

far from

home the

storms take

your canoe

because you

will always

find shelter

in our

stories, you

will always

belong in

our stories,

you will

always be

sacred in

our ocean

of stories —

hanom hanom


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ginen tidelands [latte stone park] [hagåtña, guåhan]


[for my dad]


The fallen Latte is the sign. It is from within the row of Latte that

we feel our strength. It is the severed capstone that gives us Their

message, “Ti monhayon I che’cho.” We will not rest until the

Latte is whole.

—Cecilia C. T. Perez from “Signs of Being: A Chamoru

Spiritual Journey” (1997)


i haligi

a pillar

i tasa

a capstone

i tataotao

a body


his hands—

husk coconut—

cooks and

feeds [us]—


raised house—

at quarry

outline forms

to sing


limestone to

sing past—


citizen : drafted

vietnam war—

the rifle

he kept—

his uniform

his fatigue


soak coconut


under sun—

“make rope”

braided hair—

“like this”


hålla haligi—

pull sky—

hålla tasa

“pull, son”

with [our]

entire breath


[our] bones:

acho’ latte

removed from—

to museum

of trespass—

to here—


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ginen the micronesian kingfisher [i sihek]



[our] nightmare : no


the jungle was riven emptied

of [i sihek] bright blue green turquoise red gold

feathers—everywhere : brown

tree snakes avian


the snakes entered

without words when [we] saw them it was too late—

they were at [our] doors sliding along

the passages of [i sihek]


the zookeepers came—

called it species survival plan—captured [i sihek] and transferred

the last

twenty-nine micronesian kingfishers

to zoos for captive breeding [1988]—they repeated [i sihek]

and repeated :

“if it weren’t for us

your birds [i sihek]

would be gone


what does not change /

last wild seen—

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A Whole Foods in Hawai‘i BY CRAIG SANTOS PEREZ

I dreamed of you tonight, Wayne Kaumualii Westlake, as I walked down on the sidewalk under plumeria trees with a vog headache looking at the Māhealani moon.

In my need fo’ grindz, and hungry fo’ modernity, I stumbled into the gentrified lights of Whole Foods, dreaming of your manifestos!

What pineapples and what papayas! Busloads of tourists shopping at night! Bulk aisle full of hippies! Millennials in the kale! Settlers in the Kona coffee! And you, Richard Hamasaki, what were you doing kissing the ripe mangos?

I saw you, Wayne Kaumualii Westlake, broomless, ghostly janitor, sampling the poke in the seafood section and eyeing the smoked fish.

I heard you ask questions of each: Who butchered the mahimahi? What price opah belly? Are you my ‘aumakua?

I wandered in and out of the canned goods aisle following you, and followed in my imagination by Sir Spamalot.

In our bourgeois fancy we strolled through the cooked foods 
section tasting hand-churned cheese, possessing every imported delicacy, and whispering to the cashier, “Go fuck yourself.”

Where are we going, Wayne Kaumualii Westlake? The doors of perception close in an hour. Which way does your pakalōlō point 

(I touch your book and dream of our huaka‘i in Whole Foods and feel dādā.)

Will we sail all night through Honolulu streets? The coconut trees no have nuts, tarps up for the homeless, we’ll both be lonely.

Will we cruise witnessing the ruined empire of America, past pink mopeds in driveways, home to our overpriced apartments?

Ah, dear uncle, Buddhahead, ghostly poetry teacher, what Hawai‘i did you have when TheBus quit turning its wheels and you arrived in Waikīkī and stood watching the canoes disappear on the murky waters of the Ala Wai?

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About Wayne Kaumualii Westlake

from Westlake:_Poems_by_Wayne_Kaumualii_Westlake_—-_(Introduction)

several poems from Westlake:_Poems_by_Wayne_Kaumualii_Westlake_—-_(Pg_30–39)


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[we] are watching a documentary about home

birth when [you] first feel [neni] kick // embryo

of hope // they say plastic is the perfect creation

because it never dies // litters the beaches

of o‘ahu, this “gathering place” // the doctor

recommends a c-section // in the sea, plastic multiplies

into smaller pieces, leaches estrogenic and toxic

chemicals // if [we] cut open the bellies of whales

and large fish, what fragments will [we] find, derived

from oil, absorbed into tissue // because plastic

never dissolves, every product ever made still exists,

somewhere, today // i wish my daughter was made

of plastic so that she will survive [our] wasteful

hands // so that she, too, will have a great future


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review July/August 2016

from “unincorporated territory [guma’],” by Craig Santos Perez.

Omnidawn Publishing. $17.95.

Over the course of centuries, colonialism, militarism, capitalism, and methods of Western academia have tried to make maps of the Pacific that erase and belittle Pacific Islander connections to land and ocean. But Pacific peoples move, create, change, and love in ways that work outside and against systems bent on mapping minds and bodies along lines of Western ways of knowing and being.

Craig Santos Perez dedicates his third installment of the unincorporated territory series to creating an indigenous and diasporic 
mapping of home, land, ocean, and people. In his newest book, from “unincorporated territory [guma’],” Perez draws on his background as a Chamorro raised both on Guåhan and in the Chamorro diaspora to work out lines of connection across time, place, and memory. He draws from personal memories, family narratives, archival records, and Chamorro legends to viscerally engage his readers with urgent issues of militarization and displacement. Perez also creates multiple layers of mapping that connect beyond the immediate moment to bring in stories that portray Chamorros looking to reinforce and recreate homes of self, people, land, and ocean.

[guma’] encapsulates a particular urgency due to the historical, political, and cultural contexts within which the book is published. Perez’s island home of Guåhan is the longest continuously occupied place in the Pacific, having been first invaded by the Spanish in the 1500s. The processes of colonialism radically restructured islander relationships to movement through militarization, missionization, and the sociopolitical restructuring of people’s relationship to land. Perez’s work is so important because he re-articulates past, present, and future Chamorro movement by poetically situating maps, signs, repetition, variation, and pattern throughout [guma’]. It is the articulation of home that is foregrounded in the mappings of each poem. This is mirrored in Perez’s words toward the end of one of the poems titled “ginen (sub)aerial roots,” where the italicized voice states “map aerial and sub-aerial roots … from multiple points of migration and return … because every poem is a navigational chant.”

Perez’s work is all the more poignant because it speaks on emotional, psychological, and physical levels against the US government’s 
military buildup on Guåhan. (Dis)connections of memory, war, militarization, death, and continued occupation are a central part of [guma’]. Indeed, the multiple ideas of home are foregrounded in Perez’s use of archival records of past and present military service and lists of indigenous Mariana Islanders killed in US military operations. Perez’s poetry and activism thus flow together within immediate 
political contexts that threaten to further erase Chamorro ways of remembering and connecting through their own homeland.

What is so unique about [guma’] is that it is also a space of holding memory. Perez uses the spaces of his poems — indeed the spaces between them as well — to work through Chamorro signs and symbols that speak to specific perspectives on indigenousness, sovereignty, and diaspora. In the context of everyday resistance to US encroachment on sacred Chamorro lands, native peoples giving their lives in military operations, and the threat of rising sea levels, Perez’s work makes spaces that do not discriminate between memories, but take all aspects of memory, despair, humor, sexuality, disconnection, loss, grief, fear, and vulnerability into the pages of his work.

[guma’] is mapped along the lines of seven series of poems that keep their basic titles (with some variations) over the course of four sections. The order of these poems works in a radiating and repetitive pattern, like a net being cast in all directions by a fisherman — or in this case, a navigator. It is not necessarily the pattern of repetition that is most important, though this does point to the significance of sacred numbers and patterns in indigenous cultures. The patterns suggest the changing landmarks of memory as the poems move in nonlinear narratives through time and space.

Working across the major themes of navigating home, memory, translation, decolonization, and activism, Perez moves between different voices through italicized, non-italicized, bracketed, and non-bracketed words to create commentary on vacillations between what is protective in the idea of home, and what is in fact a cage. While the main image of the book is the latte, which are the limestone pillars that “formed the foundations of homes, schools, canoe shelters, food sheds, and communal spaces,” it is the articulation of home within and beyond these foundations that creates the multidimensional layers of the book. The latte pillars are like the brackets that Perez uses around the inclusive pronouns “we” and “our,” connoting a safety within Chamorro community and indigenous self.

When Perez writes in his last poem that “guaha means/to exist,” Perez is using the base of his language to work through all other layers of expressing existence and identity in the idea of home — Guåhan. Perez’s poetry, which is the basis of his cultural, political, and historical commentary, is extremely important to all Pacific Islanders as we work to decolonize Oceania.

— Lee Kava

Read more reviews of Pacific Islander Poetry collections by clicking on this sentence.

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Dan Taulapapa McMullin


Dan Taulapapa McMullin is an artist from American Samoa whose first collection of poems, (University of Arizona Press, 2013), was one of the American Library Association’s Top 10 LGBT Books of the year. Below is one of his poem-paintings. Below that, three poems, then another poem-image.


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The Doors of the Sea



There was a ship

went into the sea

over the body of my brother

I am just a boy

he was not much older than me

the goddess is good and cruel

wants her share of life, like us

sparkling dust of birds far away whom we follow, the stars

the blood red dust of life

as my brother’s face

disappeared beneath us

beneath the ship which carried us and the goddess

to where we do not know

leaving the war of my grandfather

the smell of smoke following us

our keel, my brother, knocking down the doors of the sea

the tall, and the wild waves coming, crashing

under the keel of my brother’s name

far from the sound of places we were leaving

the roads we followed

marching past my uncle’s crooked mountain forts

while his men called out at us

with our long hair

on our shoulders

first by my brother’s name

who was this girl with him, leave her with us

she is my brother, he said

not glancing at me

our songs we sang in the warm rain for the goddess

blessed be her name

her cloak the wild wood pigeons turning

her crown the lone plover’s crying

where now are you brother?


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The Sky



The sky is bright with stars

After a hot day

The coolness of my body

Leaving finger by toe in the heat of the spa

Looking through the garden lights

At tall houses around me

I thought, No, just happy

The night is bright with stars,

She told me

She no longer missed her parents

But you loved them, I said

I did, said she, more than myself

And now I’m free

That was my friend Pipi

Such a whore, I said to myself

Like me, such a whore like me

As I hear the roosters of Samoa

In the laughing of coyotes


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Another poem-image by Dan Taulapapa McMullin:

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Joe Balaz


Joe Balaz was born and raised in Hawaii and is of Hawaiian, Slovakian, and Irish heritage. He writes in both American English and Pidgin (Hawaiian Creole English) and often composes concrete poetry with elements of visual art. His album of pidgin poetry, Electric Laulau (1998), is considered a foundational text in Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiian) literature. Of the importance of oral traditions to his work, Balaz has said, “Spoken word and amplified poetry or music poetry are dynamic avenues that enhance the communal aspect of literature in general. It’s like a chant that reaches out to you. With the oral traditions of Pacific Island cultures, one can feel a kind of continuum with these modern art forms that harken back to an older vibe.”


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Oceania Photo Montage

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Map - War in the Pacific

The Peoples Charter for a Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific:


  1. We, the people of the Pacific, want to make our position clear. The Pacific is home to millions of people with distinct cultures, religions and ways of life, and we refuse to be abused or ignored any longer.
  2. We, the people of the Pacific, have been victimized too long by foreign powers. The Western imperialistic and colonial powers invaded our defenseless region, they took over our lands and subjugated our people to their whims. This form of alien political and military domination unfortunately persists as an evil cancer in some of our native territories such as Tahiti-Polynesia, Kanaky, Australia and Aotearoa. Our environment continues to be despoiled by foreign powers developing nuclear weapons for a strategy of warfare that has no winners, no liberators and imperils the survival of all humankind.
  3. We, the people of the Pacific, will assert and wrest control over the destiny of our nations and our environment from foreign powers, including transnational corporations.
  4. We note in particular the recent racist roots of the worlds nuclear powers and we call for an immediate end to the oppression, exploitation and subordination of the indigenous people of the Pacific.
  5. Our environment is further threatened by the continuing deployment of nuclear arsenals in the so-called strategic areas throughout the Pacific. Only one nuclear submarine has to be lost in the sea, or one nuclear warhead dumped in our ocean from a stricken bomber, and the threat to the fish, and our livelihood is endangered for centuries. The erection of superports, military bases, and nuclear testing stations may bring employment, but the price is destruction of our customs, our way of life, the pollution of our crystal clear waters and bringing the ever present threat of disaster by radioactive poisoning into the everyday life of the people.
  6. We, the people of the Pacific, reaffirm our intention to extract only those elements of Western civilization that will be of permanent benefit to us. We wish to control our destinies and protect our environment in our own ways. Our uses of our natural resources in the past was more than adequate to ensure the balance between nature and humankind. No form of administration should ever seek to destroy that balance for the sake of brief commercial gain.
For more information contact:VVAW AI-Honolulu, Scotty
c/o Action Group
PO Box 521
Honolulu, HI, 96809
(808) 576-2955orThe Hawai’i Coalition Against Nuclear Testing
766 N King St.
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 845-9501,
fax (808) 843-0711.
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Geomar 367 days
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images (1)


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Course Map

    1. Access-the-Course-Map for Students New to Coursera online and SloPo Courses
    2. Course Overview with Sample Poems and Sample Discussion Thread
    3. The Library
    4. Week One and Two Materials: Ethnopoetics & Shaking the Pumpkin
    5. Jerome Rothenberg Assemblage of Materials: From Ethnopoetics to his own poetry and his work on A Big Jewish Book — texts, audio, video. 
    6. The Q&A with Jerome Rothenberg
    7. Week Three Materials: Contemporary American Indian
    8. Week Four Materials: Pacific Islander Poetry 
    9. Week Four Materials: Contemporary Caribbean Anglophone Poetry
    10. Week Five Materials: Contemporary African-American Poetry
    11. Week Six Materials: Contemporary Latinx-American Poetry and Performance
    12. Week Seven Materials: Contemporary Asian-American Poetry
    13. Week Eight Materials:  The Ghazal, Contemporary Middle-Eastern and South-Asian Poetry

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 Course Map

    1. Access-the-Course-Map for Students New to Coursera online and SloPo Courses
    2. Course Overview with Sample Poems and Sample Discussion Thread
    3. The Library
    4. Week One and Two Materials: Ethnopoetics & Shaking the Pumpkin
    5. Jerome Rothenberg Assemblage of Materials: From Ethnopoetics to his own poetry and his work on A Big Jewish Book — texts, audio, video. 
    6. The Q&A with Jerome Rothenberg
    7. Week Three Materials: Contemporary American Indian Poetry
    8. Week Four Materials: Pacific Islander Poetry 
    9. Week Four Materials: Contemporary Caribbean Anglophone Poetry
    10. Week Five Materials: Contemporary African-American Poetry
    11. Week Six Materials: Contemporary Latinx-American Poetry and Performance
    12. Week Seven Materials: Contemporary Asian-American Poetry
    13. Week Eight Materials:  The Ghazal, Contemporary Middle-Eastern and South-Asian Poetry

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