4 Oahu poets share yearlong poetry chain

The voices of four O’ahu poets who spent a year penning a chain of interlocking verses fill "No Choice but to Follow," a collection slated for release this month by Bamboo Press.

In the centuries-old Japanese "renshi" tradition of linked verse, Jean Yamasaki Toyama, Juliet S. Kono, Ann Inoshita and Christy Passion took turns writing a poem by using the last line of the previous poet’s poem as the basis for the title or first line for her new poem.

The collaborative poetry touches on subjects ranging from "growing up local" and death of loved ones to Native Hawaiian issues and friction-filled relationships.

The book’s title comes from the last line of Passion’s poem, "Into the Wild," which is about a Maori dancer’s connection to hula: "My feet have always known, / they are closest to our ancestors. / My body has no choice but to follow."

Passion is a critical care nurse at The Queen’s Medical Center whose poetry has won local and national awards.

Yamasaki Toyama, who served as lead poet and project coordinator for the group effort, is an emerita professor of French at the University of Hawaiʻi-Manoa.

Kono, also an award-winning author, teaches at Leeward Community College.

Inoshita teaches at Kapi’olani Community College. Her short play, "Wea I Stay: A Play in Hawaiʻi," was included in "The Statehood Project."

"No Choice but to Follow" comes with a compact disc featuring the poets reading their work. Advance copies of the book will be sold at Wednesday’s pre-launch party.

Source: Honolulu Advertiser

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