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The passion of poetry on the Garden Island of Kauai

Aloha from the beautiful Garden Island of Kauai. Wherever I travel, I try to check out the local writing or art scene. The other night, I traveled from our hotel in Kapaa to the town of Hanapepe on the southwest side of the island to attend a poetry reading in honor of National Poetry Month.

At the home of Storybook Theater, 10 or so local poets read and treated the audience to song, guitar music and a cacophony of Kauain frogs that at times drowned out the speakers with their deep, bass voices. (When one croaked right behind me, I nearly skyrocketed out of my chair because it sounded like some kind of jungle monster, not a frog). Competing with the frog choir was a baby chicken that sent out little peeps like sonar throughout the night. Talk about local flavor! All we needed were a few feral cats to complete the scene. (Kauai has a huge feral cat population—and we always participate in their nightly feedings when we’re here. Yes, just call me Cat Lady).

But I digress. Back to poetry. The theme of the reading was planting seeds. Seeds are a big thing on the Garden Island where food and plants can be grown year round in the rich soil.

Unfortunately for Hawaiians, the large GMO manufacturers have also discovered this and purchased large chunks of Kauai and some of the other islands for research and planting. Despite local protests and lawsuits, the experiments continue and the big, faceless GMO monstrosities try to make the Hawaiians out as the “eco-terrorists” because they don’t want their land or heritage or children’s lives to be destroyed. Proof that the world has turned upside down.

(And yes, we should be concerned about these monsters who hide out in the Pacific Ocean. Who do you think will be eating this non-food in the future? For more information and to educate yourself and your friends about the dangers of GMO, check out:

But I digress. Back to poetry. The poems shared were as diverse as the wildlife. I listened to everything from anti-GMO poems to a poem about the Potawatomi Trail of Death to poems of love and passion and sex to some amazing poetry theater about the time Robert Louis Stevenson spent in Hawaii.

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I thought the poems shared represented what poetry IS at its core. Passion. Sex. Death. Beginnings. Endings. The seeds of existence.

And, really, I never digressed above–even when I shared my GMO rant– because poetry IS life. Poetry IS passion. Poetry IS about awakening within us the seeds of awareness and of change. Write what you’re passionate about. That’s really the only rule in writing, isn’t it?

If you’re not passionate about what you write, then your readers won’t be either. Whether we dress it up as a poem, a short story, or historical time-traveling sci-fi romance, our writing exists to touch and open and change the heart of others. Mahalo.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. does anyone know a poem about whakapapa or pepeha or kawai rangatira
    please really need it today or tommorow

    August 16, 2015
  2. Mitzi Reed #

    Aloha to the garden island poets! When I was visiting there (over a decade ago) I came across the most beautiful poem in a magazine that was accompanied by a luscious-looking waterfall on the opposite page. It was an alternative version of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father who art in heaven,” etc. This poem started with “Our Mother who art in everyone, everything in thy name…” It took reading a couple of times before I realized what it was and what it meant. I was so taken by it that I wrote a song with the lyrics from that poem. I’ve been trying to find the author. If anyone knows of him (I want to say his first name was Richard, but not positive) please let me know. Thanks.

    November 13, 2019

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