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Craig Santos Perez: Chamorro Poetry Lives

Noe Tanigawa
Noe Tanigawa
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  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_web.mp3
Extended interview with Craig Santos Perez, he goes into more detail about the source of his work, connection with other Pacific writers, and what he hopes his students will learn about creative writing.

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!

Noe Tanigawa covers art, culture and ideas for Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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