Canada’s Poet Laureate Encourages Hawaii Students of Pidgin Poetry

By Lee, Cataluna | Honolulu Star - Advertiser, October 18, 2017 | Go to article overview

Canada’s Poet Laureate Encourages Hawaii Students of Pidgin Poetry


Lee, Cataluna, Honolulu Star - Advertiser


After sharing some of his own work, the visiting poet asked the class to compose lists of words important to them. They offered terms like:

brah

manapua

dakine

raja dat

Each word was received like a precious thing, a poem all on its own. The poet wanted to know the etymology, pronunciation and usage. Words delight him, and those particular words particularly delighted him. The students beamed.

“I encourage you to use your language triumphantly!” George Elliott Clarke told the class. “The more we can access our own language and experience, the more original and special and strong the writing becomes. Never shy away from using your own language.”

WORD POWER

In an event open to the public, George Elliott Clarke will discuss writing, culture, politics and the power of language today from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the UH-West Oahu library. His presentation is sponsored by the UH-West Oahu Distinguished Visiting Scholars Program and funded through the University of Hawaii Foundation.

Clarke, a professor at the University of Toronto, is Canada’s Parliamentary National Poet Laureate. He is the author of 10 books of poetry as well as plays and novels. Much of his work is rooted in where he is from - a small, historically black community in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His honors include the Dartmouth Book Award for fiction, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award and - get this - two of his poems are being used in stage projections as part of the band U2’s worldwide concert tour. Poetry doesn’t get much bigger.

The class at the University of Hawaii at West Oahu is Eng 317, Pidgin Creative Writing Workshop, a writing-intensive course taught by Tiare Picard. The class has been offered at UHWO for many years but had been dormant for a bit until Picard brought it back last semester. …

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