Today’s article in the Honolulu Advertiser about the young poets from Hawaii performing in the final round of the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival, was very exciting. These talented artists work hard to write their own poems and practice reciting them for competition on an international level. Encouraging our youth to express themselves through writing and performance is essential in spreading ideas, overcoming social and political obstacles, bridging cultures and challenging discrimination. Inspired by their success, HBB thought it might be nice to take a look at some of Hawaii’s notable poets and the books or collections they’ve authored.


Garrett Hongo is a Hawaii born poet who was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his collection of poems Yellow River. One of his more recent books is Volcano: A Memoir of Hawaii which emphasizes the struggle of figuring out where to belong, being a minority and finding an identity.

Susan Schultz is an educator and publisher who has done a great deal for Hawaii, both with her own poetry and by encouraging and teaching others. Her collection Aleatory Allegories is certainly thought provoking on issues that are very intimate to Hawaii. She writes fluidly about racial discrimination, about beauty and many other things–a very moving mix.  Susan is also the editor of TinFish Press which publishes works by local writers and poets. The website even has a section where you can download PDF versions of poetry.  She also writes a blog, TinFish Editor’s Blog, where she reviews local books, talks about poetry and the latest news or publications from TinFish Press.

One such poet who has been published by TinFish, is Joe Hadley or “Bradajo”. He’s been an important voice for Hawaiian poets since the 1970’s. His collection Avebade Bade Hawaii’s Pidgin Poetry even comes with a CD of the author reciting his poems. Bradajo’s work is culturally important to breaking stereotypes associated with pidgin. He is a joy to read and listen to, really a state treasure.

And just for fun, check out My Dog has Flies- Poetry for Hawaii’s Kids by Sue Cowing with engaging illustrations by Jon Murakami. It won a Po’okela Award of Excellence in 2006 and is just a charming read for the whole family.

Most of these books are available via amazon or Na Mea Hawaii Native Books. For information about slam poetry events and artists in Honolulu check out