Poetry & Protest

Poetry & Protest: Six Books

Several new Pacific Islander books have been published within the United States over the past few years. The books below address political issues such as colonialism, militarism, environmental desecration, racism, climate change, indigenous identity, and migration. Through their work, these authors protest injustice, advocate for change, humanize history, empower islanders, and imagine sustainable futures.


Indigenous Literatures from Micronesia (University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2019)
edited by Evelyn Flores and Emelihter Kihleng

This is the first full-length anthology to gather work from the region of the western Pacific known as Micronesia, as well as from the global Micronesian diaspora. It features over seventy authors writing in various forms and styles. One section, “Resistance,” exhibits work that critiques and protests the history and ongoing legacies of American, Spanish, and Japanese colonialism and militarism.


Effigies III: Indigenous Pacific Islander Poetry (Salt Publishing, 2019)
edited by Allison Hedge Coke, Brandy Nālani McDougall, and Craig Santos Perez

This anthology is the third in a series from Salt Publishing (UK) focused on indigenous poetry from Native North America and the Pacific. Effigies III brings together four Pacific Islander women poets: No‘u Revilla (Kanaka ‘Ōiwi/Native Hawaiian), Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio (Kanaka ‘Ōiwi/Native Hawaiian), Kisha Borja-Quichocho-Calvo (Chamoru), and Tagi Quolouvaki (Fijian, Tongan). These poets protest the ravages of colonialism in the Pacific, including military occupation, violence against Pacific women and girls, the suppression of native language and cultural practices, and the displacement from ancestral lands and waters.


Pidgin Eye (Ala Press, 2019)
Joe Balaz

Joe Balaz is a Hawaiian author who currently lives in Ohio. He has published multiple books of poetry and edited an anthology of contemporary Hawaiian literature. Pidgin Eye is his much-anticipated new collection that features his poetry written in Pidgin (Hawaiʻi Creole English). Throughout his career, he has passionately advocated for Hawaiian and Pidgin literature, protesting against the English standardization of poetry. His work also critiques the colonialism and militarization of Hawaiʻi, including the controversial proposal to build the Thirty Meter Telescope atop the sacred mountain, Mauna Kea.


Splinters are Children of Wood (Notre Dame Press, 2019)
Leia Penina Wilson

Leia Penina Wilson is an afakasi (mixed-heritage) Samoan poet from the Midwest. Splinters are Children of Wood is her second poetry collection and the winner of the Ernest Sandeen Prize. Wilson weaves Samoan and Western myths into an avant-garde epic. She protests the violence against girls and women while also evoking the power of female warriors and figures. A powerful book about the splintered world and the sacred power of feminist stories to heal the body.


Afakasi / Half-Caste (Sundress Publications, 2019)
Hali Sofala-Jones

Hali Sofala-Jones is a Samoan American writer and this is her debut collection of poetry. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the U of Wisconsin, Madison, and a Ph.D. in English from the U of Nebraska, Lincoln. She teaches literature and creative writing at Georgia College. Afakasi / Half-Caste is a moving collection that explores the politics of gender, mixed-race cultural identity, migration, diaspora, and belonging.


Iep Jaltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter (University of Arizona Press, 2017)
Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner is a poet, environmentalist, and climate activist from the Marshall islands. She holds an MA in Pacific Islands Studies from the U of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa. Her first book of poetry, Iep Jaltok, protests colonialism, racism, nuclear testing, and the existential threats of climate change that are impacting her people and her home islands.

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