Announcing A PENNY FOR OUR THOUGHTS (an ALA PRESS offering)

As many of you know, Brandy Nalani McDougall and I have started Ala Press, an independent press  dedicated to publishing Pacific literatures. Our first publication appeared late last year, and our newest publication, A Penny For Our Thoughts: A Collection of Poems from the Kamehameha Class of 2011,  is now available for sale at amazon here.

Below you can read the introduction of the anthology, as well as three sample poems. Please feel free to share this news on your blog, Facebook page, email lists, or to anyone you think might be interested. Mahalo for everyone’s support!



by editor Brandy Nalani McDougall

The poems in this collection were written as part of a semester-long class, World Poetry, which is offered to Kamehameha seniors. Throughout the course of this class, the students featured here have shared many original pieces of literature, providing a lens into their chaotic teenage lives and showing the unique backgrounds from which they’ve grown. The poets of Kanaka Maoli ancestry featured in A Penny for Our Thoughts, come from many of the Hawaiian Islands including Oahu, Kauai, and Molokai. Through class prompts, creative discussions, and even hikes into the forest of Kapālama, these authors have drawn inspiration for these works.



by ʻIolani Kamauoha

Ocean spray tiptoes towards me

As the warmth of the black grubby sand

Embraces my pale bare beet

In the distance across

Dark, uncharted waters

Stands a magnificent mountain

Finely configured by the soft, yellow glow

Of the rising sun


A shade of buttery orange with a hint of gold breaks across

The horizon

Illuminating the morning sky

Rays that escape the concealment of Haleakalā

Caresses my ivory cheeks

I slowly inch my way across the desolate stretch of Hakioawa

Vulnerable ground cracks

Beneath the soles of my feet

I take another step

Sinking deeper after every stride


A surge of satisfaction runs through me

For Kanaloa’s tenticles

now loosens me from their inescapable grip

I’m finally back

after a long year I’ve returned to the dirt-brown, rocky shores

of Kahoʻolawe


Playground Huss-ler

by Eliza Logan

i have mastered the resipee of the

spam musubi

i wrote a book on how to make one goood musubi

With pik-turs an’ all

but I give you the formula for free. Manuahi kine.

But le’ss juss say you hear by word of mouff.


There is always a

40- 60 balance; spam rice

‘less spam gets too ‘spensive at foodland

and you have to cut thuh slices manini kine.

then it turns to a

20-80; spam-rice musubi

But then we have problems

cuz cannot have 40-60 spam, rice musubi with only 20-80


to make up for the 20

get one egg from the small red hen in Old Man Wong’s yard

then ask your mum to fry it up and put ‘um in the musubi.

now the last key ‘gredient is a crispy nori

then the musubi would be like the 7-11 kine

that all the other kids take for lunch.


they pay dollar 25

but for this secret formula

i off’ring  to you for 75 cents


2 Li-hing seeds on the side.


Federal Recognition

by Paul Robins


Stay quiet, young Hawaiian,

Never speak of the road that was paved before you,

Never speak of the blood that runs through the roots of this land,

stay quiet young Hawaiian, shutup, not a sound


stand down young Hawaiian,

tear down your flag, let its threads rip and bleed with the sound of cries,

pride for your new rule, pride for the US,

forget of the battles fought in your names, forget

the bloodshed, forget of the strength of your people, forget to fight for your people today,

shutup, sit down, stand down, young Hawaiian


shut up young Hawaiian,

never sing of the melodies that drifted along the strings of your ʻukuleles, basses, and guitars,

never let their meaning, their kaona, their mana resound, ever,

never let your children hear of those things, that savage tongue,

shut up, young Hawaiian, not a sound


sign up young Hawaiian,

sign up for freedom, and bravery, sign up for this dream,

sign up for better opportunities, sign up for being better, and not what you are and have been, sign up for society and status, sign up now,

but forget your history, your moʻokūʻauhau, forget about your arts, your melodies, your worth and your meaning, forget all of that,

because Federal Recognition is what we’re for getting.


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