Hangin' with KCC

After a previous visit to the KCC campus where I discussed my writing and it's influences to a general audience, I was approached by Porsha (instructor) to speak to her class about writing. "Of course" was my reply, thinking the format would be similar I read a little, I talk a little- it's all good. This class however, was a little more daunting. While I do not have a career in education or public speaking, I have done several class discussions about writing and my influences which gave me a false sense of security. Upon arrival to class, I was led to a seat in the middle of a semi circle of students to begin my talk. Talk I did- I read some of my old work, some new work, fielded questions and asked some of my own. As this class though was not focused on writing per say, rather reading local works, I was not sure if I contributed to their knowledge base. I left feeling ok- but not sure of any impact and am interested in feedback from the group. What as your experience? Would a more focused approach to a certain aspect of writing, or of it's influences been more beneficial or has this free flowing form of discussion enriched your education of local literature? What is your opinion of local literature?

Talk story

  1. BetweenWatersUnseen says:

    Not sure if this post was for just K.C.C. students or if it was an open forum, I am going to assume the latter and respond anyway.

    I think that a good mix is always the ideal when it comes to discussing literature. You need people who write and can bring that kind of experience as well as the more critical editorial types who enjoy reading. I think in many ways you also need folks with more general knowledge to give you a different perspective, and people with no knowledge whatsoever.

    Sometimes the problem with local literature is how complicated it really is. Eric Chock’s essay The Neocolonization of Bamboo Ridge: Repositioning Bamboo Ridge and Local Literature in the 1990s really makes light of the complications behind local lit.

    In the same vein, local literature is wonderful because of the unique flavor it offers. So many voices, so much culture, all mixing into this amazingly varied genre that speaks on so many levels to so many different people. People often make the mistake of thinking that local literature operates on a secondary level compared to mainland literature but if you look at all the works out there, such as your piece Nana’s Casket, you really see the depth and literary quality of local works; especially when considering the current pop-lit environment that’s suffocating the discipline.

    As just a side note, I’d like to say thank you. I had taken a course with you at U.H., Rodney Morales’ writing workshop and you had really inspired me and gave me some good advice when I felt absolutely isolated by the idea of writing local literature. Years later, writing local literature has reconnected me to my roots here in the islands, and to further interrogate the effects of contemporary Hawaiʻi on individual identity.

  2. Pleopard says:

    Mahalo BetweenWatersUnseen-

    Such insightful commentary, I am honored you took the time to respond and wish you success with your writing. Truly a life examined…..”

  3. Pleopard says:

    Wow! I took a couple of days off from email ( I am moving house, and cleaning like a maniac) and then got a hold of these gems. Thanks for the thoughtful responses, it was my pleasure to hang with you guys and hear your thoughts. New ideas keep me fresh. For those who wrote they were thinking of creative writing- go for it! Start a renshi group to keep ypu honest. When you know that someone else is depending on you to produce, you will. Porsha- if the group wants to write- be it poetry or a script for 5-O, get in touch with me, would love to be a part of that project- Mahalo all

  4. Pleopard says:

    Chee- Hoo!

    Nothing like waking up in the morning and getting these blogs, butterfly kisses for my ego:) I wanted to make a quick response about some of the comments because they are important and insightful-

    Mash- I know what you mean about pidgin, even if you have been speaking it all your life, it may not feel natural to write in that manner. I myself find I write pidgin only when the topic is of family because the words I hear in my head are that, anything else would be unnatural. Lois Ann Yamanaka has made it mainstream. There are many other dialects/styles of language that have made it to the "top" off the top of my head I am thinking of "There Eyes Were Watching God" and a bestseller I am reading now "The Help". The African American dialect used is no different than pidgin in that they convey the truest sounds of the character and develop a believability which enhances the read.

    Sam and Thomas touched upon some of the prejudices of perhaps unseasoned readers- so sad yeah? To have only read books in "proper" English limits the understanding of the world, and the voices of those around us. As a poet I suggest "Crystal Staircase" by Langston Hughes. I ask the question- what would that poem be if written in proper English- nonexistent I tell you.

    Mahalo Aotearoa (Tiffany)- every time I am greeted in Maori fashion I am taken back to New Zealand which has been some of the fondest memories of my short life.

    Keep reading and writing- expand young minds expand!

  5. Pleopard says:


    it is "Their Eyes Were Watching God" and the Langston Hughes poem is "Mother to Son"

    Aiyah- good to be humbled, too many nice things go to my head:)– Really though, go look up that poem- free on the internet- one of my all time favorites

    I told you guys I wasn't an English teacher heh heh


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