Craig Santos Perez: Chamorro Poetry Lives
The 2010 U.S. Census reported that Chamorro, the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands, are the third largest Pacific Islander group in the US. Chamorro arrived in Hawaii aboard whaling ships in the 1800’s, and a community of seven thousand lives here now. HPR’sNoeTanigawa reports on Craig Santos Perez, a Chamorro writer living in Hawai‘i who has just won an American Book Award.
Perez is an Associate Professor in the English Department at UH Manoa, and teaches creative writing and Pacific literature. He is affiliate faculty with the Center for Pacific Island Studies, Indigenous Politics program
Perez has been in Hawai‘i 5 years, he holds an MFA in creative writing, and a PhD in Ethnic Studies
“This recognition is important to me because it brings national awareness to the issues I write about, namely the colonial status of my home island of Guam, and the indigenous struggles of my Chamorro people against the forces of militarism and ecological imperialism,” Perez said, in the UC Berkeley News.
Perez has two collections of poetry: from unincorporated territory [hacha] (Tinfish Press, 2008) and from unincorporated territory [saina](Omnidawn Publishing, 2010). He has also completed an audio poetry album, Undercurrent (Hawai’i Dub Machine, 2011).
Craig Santos Perez’ blog, you will probably enjoy his recent post, “On finishing My PhD.”
Check out more of Perez' poems on the Poetry Foundation website
Craig Santos Perez on Facebook
Asked for a short list of Pacific books he would recommend, Perez responded:
Where We Once Belonged by Sia Figiel, Samoan
Baby No Eyes by Patricia Grace, Maori
My Uncle by Emelihter Kihleng, Micronesian
The Salt Wind by Brandy Nalanmi McDougall, Hawaiian
Craig mentioned there is a good Chamorro food truck in Honolulu if you want to sample their cuisine!