2009 Hawaii Book and Music Festival

Just like locals know it will rain at the Punahou Carnival, we also know that it will be the opposite for the Hawaii Book and Music Festival: hot with only a few breezes. Saturday, May 16th, was typically hot and humid, with only a few breezes. As a result, the slushie booth never wanted for customers, and festival goers seemed relieved upon arriving at the Bamboo Ridge booth. Our booth scored a hat trick in terms of shade, since it was behind the Mission Memorial Auditorium, next to a large tree, and best of all, boasted FIVE powerful fans!

At our booth, over 200 people participated in the "Word Bag" interactive poetry project, run by Jean Toyama and Ann Inoshita (and assisted by multiple volunteers). People picked three words from a special poetry-infused bag, and had to use at least one of them to create lines of original poetry. These verses were attached to a wall for all to peruse and admire. If you didn’t get a chance to participate and/or would like to read the lines, they will be available on our website soon!

The heat didn’t stop musicians from playing, children from playing around, and people of all ages browsing and buying books, talking about books, and listening to authors. On Saturday afternoon, the Bamboo Ridge panels came one right after the other.

On the "Poets Sense of Place" panel, Leialoha Perkins, Eric Chock, Richard Hamasaki, and Robert Sullivan read from and talked about, as moderator Joseph Stanton put it, "how poetry creates for them a sense of place." Eric read "Pua’a: Nuuanu," and explained that the poem contained multiple meanings that people had argued over – was it just a poem about a car hitting a pig, the theme of technology versus nature, anger at the invasion of whites, or all of these things? Eric noted that no matter what, the poem and reaction to it was always about "a sense of place." "Tutu on the Corner," one of Eric’s well-known and best-loved poems, was next. The poem was reproduced beautifully on a poster, and also contained in his work, Last Days Here, both available at the Bamboo Ridge booth next door. How did the audience come to know this?

Eric: "Sales pitch right there, that’s how you survive for thirty years." Words of wisdom for anyone wanting to create a non-profit organization dedicated to local literature!

For one beautiful hour, Lisa Linn Kanae read from her newest book, Islands Linked by Ocean, at the Makai Authors Pavilion. For the panel "Stories of Place," Darrell Lum, Chris McKinney, and Lois-Ann Yamanaka discussed Joseph Stanton’s question, "How does a sense of place develop in a local literature?" Immediately after, Lois-Ann scorched the already-heated air by reading from Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre, recently re-released by Bamboo Ridge and only one of her many successful works. In the cool sanctuary of the Mission Memorial Auditorium, the Hawaii Literary Arts Council presented Joe Tsujimoto with the Elliot Cades Award for Literature.

Sometimes, however, there are weather quirks: it didn’t rain at this year’s carnival, and it rained at the festival on Sunday, May 17th. For two hours, panelists Chris McKinney, Gary Pak, Mavis Hara, Robert Barclay, Chris Kelsey, and Alexei Melnick, and moderator Lorna Hershinow, paid tribute to Ian MacMillan. These authors and attendees remembered Ian’s life and work, and how these influenced so many students, readers, and fellow authors.

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