As the entries piled up, it became clear that this year’s Literary Contest would be a horse race in all three categories: Poetry, Fiction and Non-Fiction. Overall, the quality of the writing was higher, and the voices and visions were from throughout the Islands, from Chinatown to Waipahu to Molokai.
As the screener of all the entries, I was impressed (and relieved) that no one style or school dominated–contributors ranged from neighborhood savants to weary world travelers, academics to working mothers. Even more encouraging was the portrait of our Hawaii Nei that emerged in works that were recognizable yet fresh, fine-grained yet self-aware, caustic yet humane.
We thank our poetry judge Janine Oshiro (author of Pier), non-fiction judge Noe Tanigawa (Culture & Arts Reporter, Hawaii Public Radio) and fiction judges Kaui Hart Hemmings (The Descendants) and Chris McKinney (Boi No Good) for taking time away from their own vital work to help grow Hawaii’s literary ‘ohana.
We congratulate the winners, whose writing appears in these pages. We thank all the entrants. And we invite everybody to the Weekly’s celebration of local literature and the arts on 6 p.m. Jan. 17th at The ARTS at Marks Garage, where winners and judges will read from their works.