Karleen Chinen

Bamboo Ridge Press, Hawai‘i’s go-to publisher for local literature, is celebrating its Big 4-0 with the release of a new volume of poetry, prose and art — and a birthday bash.

First, the party. The “Not Pau Yet Party” will be held Saturday, Oct. 20, from 5 to 9 p.m. in the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i’s Manoa Grand Ballroom. The wordsmiths at Bamboo Ridge are promising “a celebration that’ll be one for the books!” with the “Early Catch Sale” beginning at 4 p.m., a silent auction featuring amazing items, a buffet dinner and readings of some of Hawai‘i’s favorite stories by their authors themselves.

Fortunately for those attending “Not Pau Yet Party,” the authors are all excellent storytellers, as well. BR supporters will hear “Growing Up Local” by Eric Chock; “Pass On, No Pass Back!” by Darrell H. Y. Lum; “Expounding the Doubtful Points” by Wing Tek Lum; “Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre” by Lois-Ann Yamanaka; “Folks You Meet in Longs” by Lee Cataluna and Lee Tonouchi from “Da Word.”

Seats are $100 per person, $40 of which is tax-deductible. Those with the means may be interested in supporting Bamboo Ridge Press by purchasing premium tables for $3,000 or $5,000. Tickets can be purchased online at www.bambooridge.com. Proceeds will help Bamboo Ridge continue its mission of fostering the voices of Hawai‘i’s people through new publishing projects, educational programming, community outreach such as educational workshops for youth and adults and free public readings.

So that’s the party side of Bamboo Ridge Press’ 40th anniversary celebration. And now the heart and soul of Bamboo Ridge since 1978 — the experiences, observations, memories and dreams in words.

The 40th anniversary volume — Issue 113 — features the works of 50 writers and the artwork of Hawai‘i Public Radio arts reporter Noe Tanigawa, who shares her thoughts on the artistic process in a Q&A interview with book co-editor Gail N. Harada.

In their “From the Editors” message, Harada and co-editor Lisa Linn Kanae ask the million-dollar question: “Who would do this unless there was a genuine love for this place and its literature? As schmaltzy as it may sound, love sustains Bamboo Ridge Press. It certainly isn’t the money, fame, or accolades — and there have been many accolades. It’s all about da love — for the creative process, for seeing for the first time a well-chosen cover, for hearing a writer’s response to being published, for the undeniable power that words possess, and for seeing our voices in a book. The question is not “Why do it?” The question really is “Why wouldn’t someone do it?”

So what’s the best way to read this volume, I asked editors Harada and Kanae, likening the book to a scrumptious-looking buffet table? Should I start at the beginning with my empty plate, take the salad, then move on to the starches and complex carbs and then pile on the proteins? Or should I eye up the whole table, find my comfort foods and the most intriguing-looking dishes and fill my plate with them?

“If they want to, people can start with the Editors’ Choice award winners and the Noe Tanigawa artist profile,” Kanae and Harada replied. “Then readers can decide whether they like skipping around or whether they want to read from beginning to end. They should do whatever pleases them and should talk to other people about the pieces they enjoy!”

Kanae and Harada gave their Editors Choice Award for poetry to Derek N. Otsuji, who teaches English at Honolulu Community College, and the award for prose to Lauren K.N. Padilla for her moving short story, “Waimaka.” Padilla is a student of English and Visual Narratives at Whitworth University who recently graduated from the Los Angeles Film Studies Center.

“Waimaka” is too long to share in this limited space, but we can share one of Derek Otsuji’s memory-evoking poems, “First Dream.”


For the first dream of the New Year

my uncle pins his hopes on a vision of three things:

Mount Fuji, a hawk, an eggplant of good color.

Seen in sequence, these signal luck

in the coming year. On New Year’s Eve, above

the headboard of his bed, he posts a colored print

of all three, exactly as they might appear

in the New Year’s dreamer’s dreaming head.

“Not one good omen yet!” clucks my aunt.

Here’s a man who’s seen misfortune:

retirement savings bilked, investments gone bad.

a daughter snatched by illness prowling

the blood, and a grown son whose mind

took flight in the pious 70s on wings

of angel dust. A wife married to a man of such luck—

what else can she do. It’s the first day of 2015.

We’re gathered at my uncle’s for the year’s

first meal. Ichi Fuji, ni taka, san nasu,

he repeats, counting down hours

like rosary beads, murmuring the chiming

words like a mantra whose frequencies

will set superstrings of the cosmic purse

a humming till, loosened, they open the mouth

of auspices, spilling coins of good fortune.

lining bare pockets of the singing pilgrim

with loads of actual or metaphorical gold.

What he’s got instead are goods of more

durable luck, which the coming months

will prove—a knack for loss, contentment in a wife

of fifty years, a mood of rugged cheer.


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