Stories from the Big Island of Hawai’i

Stories from the Big Island of Hawai’i

Sep. 12, 2017 >>

I spent five weeks this summer living and working on the Big Island of Hawai’i, in a continuation of what has always felt a disjointed relationship with the place, though it has gone on for 30 years now. My father is the thread who led me there & the reason I’ve kept threading myself through it, though my belonging to the island has always felt tenuous. It has been my lonely luck to walk that island with many questions and discontents over the years of my life – not just my own, but those of the people around me & especially those of indigenous lineage. It’s a place of great heartache, confusion, pain, terror, fire, water, & beauty.


My work there this summer as a writer touched upon many raw & fierce & tender aspects of that island, & of myself, from bomb testings on sacred mountains and the occupation of sacred temples by the US military, to canoe-building, non-instrument navigation, & the Hawaiian language, to wild pigs & invasive frogs & cowboys & horses, to the devastation of island ecosystems, the ravages & oppression of colonization, to modern astronomy & ancient star knowledge, to the crippling scars of cruelty, selfishness & abandonment that, sometimes, the ocean & volcanoes have the power to soothe & transform. Universal humanity, that is, and the human questions, & beyond humanity, to the timeless, to the stars, to the darkness, the lipolipo deepbluestblackness, out of which, for the Hawaiians, all things are born.


It’s a big world out there in the middle of the Pacific, that island an infinite speck, and I am burning with it. I am turning over & over this pile of words I heaped up there and finding that for every scrap of things taken note of, there are ten more I left lying by the pageside. What seemed a thread, I’ve realized, is cordage— kana, in the Hawaiian language, the twisted rope used to fasten sails so that one might navigate the wide ocean, a word that’s also related to the umbilical cord. I am utterly blessed & burdened to be working now with many of these stories on the wide, wide open & empty unfathomable page, finding a passage through what seems a lostness but I know is just vast possibility. So much to come.

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