Anthology of Micronesian literature to launch this week
Professor of English and CHamoru Studies Evelyn R. Flores of the University of Guam and Emelihter Kihleng, a Pohnpeian poet and curatorial research fellow at the MARKK Museum am Rothenbaum in Hamburg, Germany, will release their newly published book, “Indigenous Literatures from Micronesia,” at a launch event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on June 6 at the CLASS Lecture Hall.
The book is an anthology containing more than 100 pieces written by more than 65 indigenous writers from Pacific Islands spanning Palau in the west to Kosrae and Kiribati in the east. Editors Flores and Kihleng, both from Micronesia themselves, selected “historically groundbreaking” as well as some of the “most cited and provocative of published pieces,” according to the publisher, University of Hawaii Press. UOG’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences provided research and layout support for the book’s development.
The writings cover a range experiences of people from Micronesia — from origins to World War II memories, to resistance, to family, the diaspora, globalization, and technology. Writers featured in the book include Teresia Teaiwa, Melvin Won Pat-Borja, Arielle Lowe, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Peter Onedera, Anne Perez Hattori, Isabong Asang, Vince Diaz, and Leonard Iriarte.
The two women had a dream for an anthology of indigenous literatures from Micronesia. Both had experienced first-hand the vacuum that existed in classrooms when it came to literatures from the region. Even in Pacific Island literature courses, Kihleng said there has been no literature from Micronesia, “almost as if we didn’t exist.” Both women, who were also creative writers, decided it was long past time to close the gap.
So began what would turn out to be a 10-year journey to “Indigenous Literatures from Micronesia.”
“This baby,” Flores said, “took nine years, not nine months. It’s been an unexpectedly long haul, but anything worth doing is worth the persistence, the hundreds of hours, and the long nights. We couldn’t not do it.”
Emelihter said, “I am relieved and proud of our work, that we followed through and completed a challenging and ambitious project. … It is so important for people to see themselves reflected in films, art, and writing, and Evelyn and I saw this anthology as a significant means in which to provide a mirror for us, something we never really had.”
Their goal, Flores said, is to get the book into classrooms around the world and wherever Pacific Island literature is sold.
Copies of the book will be available for cash purchase at the launch, and Flores and a number of writers will be there for signatures as well as artist Monica Baza, whose work was chosen to be featured on the cover page.