Native Hawaiian Poets

Celebrating the Richness of Native Hawaiian Poetry: A Tribute for AAPI Heritage Month

As we delve into Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, it’s essential to honor the diverse cultures and voices within this broad spectrum of identities and poetics. In the kaleidoscope of AAPI identities, Native Hawaiian poetry stands as a profound expression of heritage, history, and resilience. Rooted in the traditions of Kanaka Maoli, Native Hawaiian poetry encapsulates the spirit of the islands, weaving together narratives of land, ocean, and the human experience.


Understanding Kanaka Maoli

Kanaka Maoli refers to the indigenous people of Hawaii, embodying a deep connection to the land (ʻāina), culture, and language. The richness of Kanaka Maoli is reflected in various art forms, with poetry holding a special place as a vehicle for storytelling, cultural preservation, and resistance.


Darrell Lum: The Voice of Everyday Life

Darrell Lum, a key figure in contemporary Hawaiian literature, captures the essence of everyday life in his poetry. Co-founder of Bamboo Ridge Press, Lum’s work delves into the nuances of Hawaiian identity and the struggles of everyday people. His poetry collection, “Pass On, No Pass Back!” explores themes of family, identity, and the complexities of living in Hawaii. Lum’s ability to infuse humor and poignancy into his verses makes his poetry accessible and relatable to readers of all backgrounds.


Eric Chock: Bridging Past and Present

Eric Chock‘s poetry bridges the past and present, intertwining the legacy of Kanaka Maoli with contemporary narratives. Through his works, such as “Last Days Here” and “Portraits of Grace,” Chock explores themes of memory, loss, and the enduring spirit of Hawaii. His evocative imagery and lyrical style evoke a sense of nostalgia while addressing pressing issues facing modern Hawaiian society.


Ku`ualoha Meyer Ho`omanawanui: Weaving Cultural Narratives

Ku`ualoha Meyer Ho`omanawanui’s poetry celebrates Native Hawaiian culture, language, and spirituality. Her collection “ʻĀina: A Reflection of Native Hawaiians” beautifully weaves traditional cultural narratives with contemporary themes. Ho`omanawanui’s mastery of language and deep understanding of Hawaiian mythology create a poetic tapestry that honors the ancestral wisdom of Kanaka Maoli.


Vilsoni Hereniko: A Global Perspective

Vilsoni Hereniko’s poetry reflects a global perspective while remaining deeply rooted in Hawaiian identity. His collection “Woven Gods” explores themes of colonization, identity, and the complexities of cultural exchange. Through his work, Hereniko challenges conventional narratives and offers a fresh perspective on the intersection of cultures in Hawaii and beyond.


Kathy Dee Kaleokealoha Kaloloahilani Banggo: A Voice of Empowerment

Kathy Dee Kaleokealoha Kaloloahilani Banggo’s poetry is a powerful work of empowerment, highlighting the resilience and strength of Kanaka Maoli women. Through collections like “Native Tongue” and “Navigating Destiny,” Banggo celebrates the beauty of Hawaiian culture while addressing issues of identity, gender, and social justice. Her poetry serves as a rallying cry for indigenous rights and a testament to the enduring spirit of Hawaii’s people.


In celebrating AAPI Heritage Month, let us recognize and appreciate the rich tapestry of Native Hawaiian poetry. As we embrace the diversity of AAPI cultures, may we continue to uplift and amplify the voices of Kanaka Maoli, ensuring that their stories and legacies endure for generations to come.