Seri I. Luangphinith

Hilo, Hawaiʻi

Seri I. Luangphinith

I consider myself very blessed. It is not often that a local tita who leaves home to seek success on the continent will have the opportunity to return to the island of her birth and take up a position as a professor of English. Because of this gift, I long dreamed of helping others of this place achieve the same sense of accomplishment. This anthology represents that dream coming true—a tangible way to give back to my students, to my home (and my ethnically diverse, hodgepodge family), and to the larger Pacific community. This desire to "give back" informs my writing.

My poetry addresses those who are/were important in my life; however, I also pull in larger issues, as you will see in "Yuki," which touches upon the L.A. riots of 1992 and the implacable conformity Japanese women faced during Hawaiʻi's plantation era. I am quite a packrat in that I incorporate a plethora of literary references; I also have a nasty habit of using big words. My idols: John Keats, Pablo Neruda, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Aunty Edith Kanaka‘ole, and Arundhati Roy. The best time to write: in the quiet of the night, when the stars are burning bright, and the brain is not uptight, but falls in rhythmical delight.

Excerpt from Making Waves


Her restless eyes were on Govinda
With mixed alarm and bliss
As she entered his place
To the sweet sound of ringing anklets.

—from the Twenty-first Song of the Gītagovinda

Photo of Lami

The day begins with a flight through smitten clouds, spun
In high heaven; an ardent heart races to rise before the sun,
While the land below awakens from weary slumber.

Jacketed in a mist of jasmine, arms reach out expectantly,
Anticipating a beloved, who waits at the edge of a sea,
In full view of an Island of rainbow avowals; waves sing
With the hum of fluttering fluted bamboo and plover wings.

Then, there is that sashayed stride, which in a blink of an eye,
Spans history, eases a binary, and summons an anomaly.

A smile dawns between the unmitigated cadence of sighs
So celebrated by wandering Bard-kings, inspired,
In times past by dew from lotuses with broken stems.

And so it goes, this ancient tune, now at present, tense,
Playing a rāga, divine bent, to purify a world with verse.