"All night long, the conversation flows as smoothly as the waves. And in many ways it is an ideal society. No social ladder exists: the youngest man holds equal weight with the eldest, and everyone is entitled to his share of compliments as well as criticism. The men realize that the fishing will never be the same, and the future looks as bleak as ever. But still, they continue to fish and wish at Bamboo Ridge" pg. 11, Tony Lee, 'Nowadays Not Like Before,' Bamboo Ridge #1.
At the two most recent events (Wine & Words, and the reading at UHM) in celebration of Bamboo Ridge Press’ land mark 100th issue, some important questions were asked of readers and were shared with those in attendance: what sku you went, and wen you wen encounter Bamboo Ridge fo da first time. The answers exemplified the diversity of BR’s audience but also illustrated the significance of what Bamboo Ridge offers through its publications: a voice, one that speaks and one that is heard; expression and recognition for the writer and the reader, real, imagined, and otherwise.
It has been somewhat of a struggle these last few months to write this blog post. There is alot that can be said and could be said. When I approached the page a few weeks back, I was going to dig through my yellowed copy of #1 and draw comparisons to the then and now. Perhaps talk about how #100 is a literal representation of the changing publication industry: holding fast to the traditional submission methods (snail-mail), but also in-flux, with its publication of on-line work. How even its contriubutors represent a sampling of emerging and established talent. In addition, the 100/100 guideline blends tradtional emphasis on craft and discpline with modern/post-modern rumminations on how stories are construted and told.
Of course, it’s all about the stories and #100 does not disappoint. I have many favorites, especially Darlene M. Javar’s two poems, ‘For Robin, Unclaimed’ and ‘Pyrex and Pipe’, which I found not only complex in their presentation of emotion, but raw and honest. In ‘From a Native Hawaiian Woman Shipped Out to Oklahoma Because of Prison Overcrowding in Hawaiʻi’, Amalia B. Bueno examines contemporary issues of race and politics of place by adopting the lens of another filipino poet, Bino A. Realuyo. The topics and themes vary widely throughout the hundred pieces featured, but familiar lines can be drawn between these new works and those that have come before.
The ‘From the Editors’ section of #100 is similar in that it echoes the narrative that introduced ‘The Best of Bamboo Ridge’. I think it’s important that both issues begin with the story of Darrell and Eric, “two young literary radicals […] with the dream of printing up a couple of hundred copies of the first issue,” because it’s something that I think every writer that is passionate about stories can connect with. It goes back to that earlier idea of a voice, and that such a voice is necesary. In 1978, when Bamboo Ridge Press was formed, local literature was rarely encountered, now, in 2012, it is everywhere. Spray painted on Ala Moana boulevard, crackling through your radios, downloaded onto your Kindle, and alive in the hearts and minds of those living in Hawaii.
I wanted to start this post by contemplating the future of local literature, perhaps remarking about the current state of the economy and the publishing world. But thinking about those saddle-stitched copies, covers line-drawn, and sold for $1.25 by two guys with some “support from unexpected places,” I figured what’s the point. Nowadays not like before, but some things remain.