After a super successful venue move in March to the Fresh Café, we’re fully prepared to blow your minds with words for National Poetry Month. What is National Poetry Month, you ask? Well, The Academy of American Poets (who should know best!), say it began in 1996 and that it’s
a month-long, national celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets. The concept is to widen the attention of individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern. We hope to increase the visibility and availability of poetry in popular culture while acknowledging and celebrating poetry’s ability to sustain itself in the many places where it is practiced and appreciated.
We like this idea and for this special occasion we’re thrilled to be featuring two Kanaka Maoli poets, Brandy Nālani McDougall and David Keali’i, at this month’s event, as well as M. Thomas Gammarino, a fiction writer and master of words, and traci kato-kiriyama, our special guest performer coming all the way from California!
Brandy is the author of a poetry collection, The Salt-Wind, Ka Makani Paʻakai, published by Kuleana ʻŌiwi Press in 2008 and a chapbook, “Return to the Kula House.” When she’s not writing, you can find her teaching Hawaiian and Pacific Literatures at the Kamehameha Schools. Read Barbara Jane Reyes’s blog post on Brandy here.
In his poem “Revival” David Keali’i writes
What of the time I prayed out loud?
Called the names of Gods and kupuna;
felt the shiver run the length of
my spine, asked them to guide me.
Placed my life in their waiting hands.
Makes you shake a little, and in the good way, doesn’t it? Well get ready for more spine shivers when he reads at M.I.A. this month! Originally from Springfield, Massachusetts, David is currently pursuing his Masters of Library and Information Science at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. His work has appeared in ʻŌiwi: A Native Hawaiian Journal, Yellow Medicine Review: International Queer Indigenous Issue, and Radius Lit. Read the rest of “Revival” here.
You may know M. Thomas Gammarino (known by his friends simply as “Tom”) as the author of Big in Japan by Chin Music Press. If you haven’t read this book, you can read about it here. Although he’s a “fiction” writer, and this is technically “National Poetry Month” after all, I think we can all agree that Tom has a serious and poetic handle of language and lucky for us, he has “at least” one other book in him. We are so happy that he’s agreed (without torture) to return to read at M.I.A. and read this month, and we can’t wait to hear what he’s been working on!
traci kato-kiriyama, our mainland guest, is a multi-disciplinary performance artist and author of a book of poetry called ‘signaling’. She is the founder/director of a 13 year-old art+community series in Downtown Los Angeles called the Tuesday Night Café (something for M.I.A. to aspire to!) and is co-instructor for Asian American Voices at Pitzer College. She travels all over giving talks and performances, and we are bubbling over with joy that she will be at M.I.A. this month. She will be also giving a workshop and discussion at the University of Hawaii the day of M.I.A. (Thursday, April 21st) in Kuykendall 410 at Noon called “No Such Thing As Writer’s Block”—so make sure to check that out too! Her website is here, if you want to know more.
Walt Whitman said, “To have great poets there must be great audiences too.” So let’s make this M.I.A. the biggest and best event yet!