books, books, books (and music!)

Ten o’clock on an already hot Saturday morning, only the start of what’s going to be a hot hot hot summer in Hawaii. Lots of parking at City Hall, but it has also been the month of the vog, so the two balanced each other out. The air was saturated with heat and sun and you couldn’t get a breeze for love nor books. However, that didn’t stop people from singing, acting, reading, attending panels/presentations, dancing, eating, or even writing poetry. It was the first day of the Hawaii Book and Music Festival for 2008!

A special Bamboo Ridge 30th anniversary program was available at the Hawaii Council for the Humanities pavilion, titled "The Literature of DIVERSITY CULTURE LANGUAGE PERFORMANCE in Hawaii", with essays by Amalia Bueno, Susan M. Schultz, Craig Howes, Kent Sakoda, and Yokanaan Kearns. Subtitle: "WE MADE IT!" (No not really, but hey why not?)

From Amalia Bueno’s essay: " — today’s issues are 300-page perfect bound books that feature poetry and prose by both emerging and established writers. Some of Hawaiʻi’s best-known authors were first published in Bamboo Ridge. Special issues of the journal — single-author collections and anthologies with unique themes — have for more than a generation been used as textbooks or recommended reading in high school and college classrooms both locally and on the mainland" (3).

What? What’s that sound? I think it’s Darrell Lum, yelling, "NOT A GENERATION! I NOT THAT OLD!"

Noon found Kent Sakoda moderating the language presentation (aka "Pidgin Panel"). I thought this panel was fascinating, not only because it included Darrell and Lee Tonouchi, but because the presenters brought up topics such as pidgin in high school, different towns, and even politicians. Tyler Miranda remembered, "growing up in Ewa Beach, you either speak pidgin or you don’t survive. And you just learn how to survive". Lee Tonouchi waxed poetic: "pidgin is fly / pidgin is dope / today we get role models who give us hope" (i.e. Ben Cayetano, or as Lee phrases it, a campaign slogan if I ever heard one: "Ben is da bomb!"). Lee asked his UH professor Jean Toyama if she would help him establish a B.A. in pidgin. Her reaction (note: in her own words): "What? Are you crazy?!?"

Jean Toyama and Darrell contrasted their high school experiences with pidgin. As a child, Jean and her pidgin-speaking classmates "got the fricatives washed out of [them]": they were taken out of class every Friday and given special elocution lessons, "just like Eliza Doolittle". She attended Roosevelt High School, which had been "chosen as the Standard English School".

Jean: "People from McKinley didn’t like us, they thought we stay on our high horse."

Later, Darrell: "I went to McKinley. [audience laughter] I wish I could’ve gone to Roosevelt, that was the poor man’s Punahou."

The festival’s big-name author was Michael Ondaatje, who spoke in the Mission Memorial Auditorium on Saturday afternoon. As he read from his new book Divisadero, I could see the author photo in the corner of the book’s back jacket. So it was sort of bizarre to see the tiny book cover photo right next to the author himself. Ondaatje talked about an even stranger story, "too Marquez-ian by half", told to him by a forensic anthropologist friend working in Sri Lanka: one day, the U.S. Ambassador’s car drove by, flags on the car waving, the whole works, except there was a clown sitting in the back seat. Turned out that the ambassador’s wife was a professional clown.

Last notes:
Read Lee Tonouchi’s "Da Tree Uprising" to find out why Punahou’s campus is always clean.
Did anyone else notice "Bambroo" Ridge in Honolulu Weekly’s summer books issue?

I crocheted a bag to help celebrate the big three-oh. My friend Elizabeth asked why I had bought a bag with the number thirty on it. I suppose it’s partly a compliment, seeing as she didn’t realize it was a self-made bag. My design:

Talk story

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