New Video-Poem: “Praise Song for Oceania”


On Editing & Publishing Pacific Literature

Over the past ten years, I have worked many hours editing, publishing, and promoting Pacific Islander literature. I hope these efforts will bring more attention to our talented authors and vibrant cultures. Here is a summary of the many editorial projects I have been involved in, and I hope you will support us by buying our books and reading our stories.


ALA PRESS:  I co-founded Ala Press with Brandy Nālani McDougall in 2011, and it is the only independent publisher that focuses entirely on indigenous Pacific Islander poetry in the United States. Thus far we have published 4 single author collections and 2 anthologies.

sourcing siapo by penina ava taesali (2016)

passages in between i(s)lands (2014)



Squid out of Water: The Evolution (2014)


Afakasi Speaks (2013)



Matamai 2: Intersecting Knowledge Across the Diaspora (2012)


A Penny for Our Thoughts: A collection of poems from the Kamehameha Schools class of 2011



Nafanua: Works from Writers and Artists who attended the 10th Festival of Pacific Arts in American Samoa (2011)



UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA PRESS, SUN TRACKS: In 2011, I joined the editorial board of Sun Tracks, the longest running publishing series of indigenous literature, housed at the University of Arizona Press. My role on the board is to bring on native Pacific Islander authors into the series. Thus far, we have published 2 collections of poetry:

Coconut Milk (2013) by Dan Taulapapa McMullin


Iep Jaltok
Poems from a Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner (2017)



GUEST EDITORSHIP: In 2013, I was a guest editor for Tinfish Press, through which was published one book:

A Bell Made of Stones by Lehua Taitano (2013)



ACHIOTE PRESS: This is a press I co-edited before Ala Press. We published 2 books related to Pacific literature.

In 2009, I co-edited an anthology, Chamoru Childhood. This book is now out of print, but if you would like a PDF copy just let me know.


Matamai: The Vasa in Us (Out of Print)



POETRY MAGAZINE: In 2016, I edited the first ever feature of Pacific Islander poetry for Poetry Magazine.

Pacific Islander Folio (July/August 2016)



SPECIAL ISSUES: Over the years I have also guest-edited several special issues in literary journals:

  1. “Pacific Islander Poetry and Poetics,” feature in West Branch Literary Journal (2017)
  2. “Six Pacific Islander Poets,” special folio of Literary Hub (April 2016)
  3. New Oceania Interview Series: featuring interviews with Audrey Brown-Periera, Dan Taulapapa McMullin, Lehua Taitano, and Noʻu Revilla (Essay Press, 2015)
  4. “Nanan Tano is calling for you”: Four Contemporary Chamoru Poets, Special Feature for The Offending Adam, (2011).
  5. “Kantan Chamorrita: Contemporary Chamoru Poetry,” Special Feature for The Platte Valley Review, Volume 33, Winter 2011.

DATABASE: I have also worked with the Poetry Foundation to create an ongoing database of Pacific Islander author information. You can read it here. In conjunction, I have created a YouTube playlist of hundreds of videos of Pacific Islanders performing poetry. You can view it here.

“Thanksgiving in the Anthropocene, 2015” (Poem)

Thank you, instant mashed potatoes, your bland taste

makes me feel like an average American. Thank you,

incarcerated Americans, for filling the labor shortage

and packing potatoes in Idaho. Thank you, canned

cranberry sauce, for your gelatinous curves. Thank you,

Ojibwe tribe in Wisconsin, your lake is now polluted

with phosphate-laden discharge from nearby cranberry

bogs. Thank you, crisp green beans, you are my excuse

for eating apple pie ala mode later. Thank you, indigenous

migrant workers, for picking the beans in Mexico’s farm belt,

may your children survive the season. Thank you, NAFTA,

for making life dirt cheap. Thank you, Butterball Turkey,

for the word, butterball, which I repeat all day butterball,

butterball, butterball because it helps me swallow the bones

of genocide. Thank you, dark meat for being so juicy

(no offense, dry and fragile white meat, you matter too).

Thank you, 90 million factory farmed turkeys, for giving

your lives during the holidays. Thank you, factory farm

workers, for clipping turkey toes and beaks so they don’t scratch

and peck each other in overcrowded, dark sheds. Thank you,

genetic engineering and antibiotics, for accelerating

their growth. Thank you, stunning tank, for immobilizing

most of the turkeys hanging upside down by crippled legs.

Thank you, stainless steel knives, for your sharpened

edge and thirst for throat. Thank you, de-feathering

tank, for your scalding-hot water, for finally killing the last

still conscious turkeys. Thank you, turkey tails, for feeding

Pacific Islanders all year round. Thank you, empire of

slaughter, for never wasting your fatty leftovers. Thank you,

tryptophan, for the promise of an afternoon nap;

I really need it. Thank you, store bought stuffing,

for your ambiguously ethnic flavor, you remind me

that I’m not an average American. Thank you, gravy,

for being hot-off-the-boat and the most beautiful

brown. Thank you, dear readers, for joining me at the table

of this poem. Please join hands, bow your heads, and repeat

after me: “Let us bless the hands that harvest and butcher

our food, bless the hands that drive delivery trucks

and stock grocery shelves, bless the hands that cooked

and paid for this meal, bless the hands that bind

our hands and force feed our endless mouth.

May we forgive each other and be forgiven.

Lannan Literary Fellowship

I am happy to share that I have received a 2016 Lannan Literary Fellowship in Poetry! Below is the press release from the University of Hawaiʻi, Manoa:

Craig Santos Perez, an associate professor in the UHM Department of English, has been awarded the 2016 Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry in recognition of his distinctive literary merit and potential for continued outstanding work. This is Perez’s second distinguished honor in a short period of time; he also received a 2015 American Book Award for from unincorporated territory [guma’] .

The fellowship provides Perez with a monetary award, as well as a residency at the Lannan properties in Marfa, Texas. The residency, typically 4 to 6 weeks long, will afford Perez the time and opportunity to immerse himself in an environment ideal for writing among other writers.  In total, the Lannan Foundation presented $850,000 to seven authors who received either the 2016 Literary Award or Literary Fellowship.

“I am honored and grateful to receive the Lannan fellowship, which will support the completion of my next book of poems,” said Perez.  “As the first Pacific Islander author to receive the Lannan, I hope this will bring further attention to the literature and political issues of the Pacific.”

Perez, a native Chamorro from Guam, has co-edited two anthologies of Pacific literature and authored three books of poetry.

He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of San Francisco and an MA and PhD in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.  Besides teaching in the UHM English department, he is also an affiliate faculty member in the Center for Pacific Island Studies and the Indigenous Politics Program of the Department of Political Science.

The Lannan Foundation is a family foundation dedicated to cultural freedom, diversity and creativity through projects that support exceptional contemporary artists and writers, as well as inspired native activists in rural indigenous communities.

Through its Literary Awards and Fellowships program, the Lannan Foundation hopes to stimulate the creation of literature written originally in the English language, and to develop a wider audience for contemporary prose and poetry.  Candidates for the awards and fellowships are recommended to Lannan Foundation by a network of writers, literary scholars, publishers and editors.

The College of Languages, Linguistics & Literature (one of the four Arts & Sciences colleges) of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa offers a broad curriculum in English, foreign and heritage languages and literatures, second language studies and linguistics.  Its Asia and Pacific focused curricula is unique in the nation.  The faculty regularly teaches more than 25 languages, and has the capacity to teach many more.

New Poem “Water is Life”

in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all peoples protecting the sacred waters of this earth

water is life becuz our bodies are 60 percent water

becuz my wife labored for 24 hours through contracting waves

becuz our sweat is mostly water and salt

becuz she breathed and breathed and breathed

water is life becuz our lungs are 80 percent water

becuz water broke forth from her body

becuz amniotic fluid is 90 percent water

becuz our daughter crowned like a new island

water is life becuz our blue planet is 70 percent water

becuz some say water came from asteroids and comets

becuz some say the ocean formed within the earth from the beginning

becuz water broke forth from shifting tectonic plates

becuz we say our gods created water

becuz no human has found a way to safely create water

water is life because we can’t drink oil

becuz water is the next oil

becuz we wage war over gods and water and oil

water is life becuz only 3 percent of global water is freshwater

becuz the water footprint of an average american is 2000 gallons a day

becuz it takes 660 gallons of water to make one hamburger

becuz more than 1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water

becuz in some countries women and children walk 4 miles every day to gather clean water & carry it home

becuz we can’t desalinate the entire ocean

water is life becuz if you lose 5 percent of your body’s water your body will become feverish

becuz if you lose 10 percent of your body’s water your body will become immobile

becuz we can survive a month without food but less than a week without water

water is life becuz we proclaim water a human right

becuz we grant bodies of water rights to personhood

water is life becuz the ocean is 99% of the biosphere

becuz some countries signed the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

becuz from this coastline to 200 nautical miles is the nation’s exclusive economic zone

becuz my wife says the Hawaiian word for wealth, waiwai, comes from their word for water, wai

water is life becuz corporations steal, privatize, dam, and bottle our waters

becuz sugar, pineapple, corn, soy, and gmo plantations divert our waters

becuz concentrated animal feeding operations consume our waters

becuz pesticides, chemicals, oil, weapons, and waste poison our waters

water is life becuz we say stop, you are hurting our ancestors

becuz they say we thought this was a wasteland

becuz we say stop, keep the oil in the ground

becuz they say we thought these bones were fuel

becuz we say stop, water is sacred 

becuz they say we thought water is a commodity

becuz we say we are not leaving

becuz they say we thought you were vanishing

becuz we are water warriors and peaceful protectors

becuz they call us savage and primitive and riot

becuz we bring our feathers and lei and sage and shells and canoes and hashtags and totems

becuz they bring their bulldozers and drills and permits and surveillance drones and helicopters

becuz we bring our treaties and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

becuz they bring their banks and politicians and police and private militia and national guard and lawyers

becuz we bring our songs and schools and lawyers and prayers and ceremonies

becuz they bring their barking dogs and paychecks and pepper spray and rubber bullets

becuz we bring all our relations and all our generations and all our livestreams

water is life becuz our drumming sounds like rain after drought echoing against our taut skin

water is life becuz our blood is 90 percent water

becuz every minute a child dies from water-borne diseases

becuz every day thousands of children die from water-borne diseases

becuz every year millions of children die from water-borne diseases

water is life becuz my daughter loves playing in the ocean

becuz someday my daughter will ask us, “where does the ocean end?”

becuz we will point to the dilating horizon

water is life becuz our eyes are 95 percent water

becuz we will tell her that the ocean has no end

becuz we will tell her that the sky and clouds carry the ocean

becuz we will tell her that the mountains embrace the ocean into a blessing of rain

becuz we will tell her that the ocean rain fills aquifers and lakes

becuz we will tell her that the ocean rain flows into the Missouri River

becuz we will tell her that ocean rain river water connects us to our cousins at Standing Rock

becuz we will tell her about the sacred stone of a mother holding her child

becuz we will tell her that the Sioux are still there, still breathing

water is life becuz our hearts are 75 percent water

becuz i will whisper to her, while she is sleeping, “hanom hanom hanom,” my people’s word for

water, so that our dreams of water will carry us home

water is life, water is life, water is life

An Open Letter from Two Oceanic Story Trust Polynesians

Aloha, Kia Ora, Talofa, Malo e lelei,

Before we begin, let us protocol our genealogy. Our names are Kimo Aulani Moana III (aka Junior Boy Jr.) and Lani Aulani Moana (aka Lani Girl). We are from the ahupuaʻa of the Polynesian Triangle. Our ancestors are natural navigators, farmers, fishermen, and storytellers. We speak Polynesian fluently, and we breathe the essence of Polynesia daily.

Throughout our lives, we have been taught the true value of Polynesian culture. That’s why we started the cultural consultant firm: Poly Face, LLC.

We are members of Disney’s Oceanic Story Trust. We are breaking our non-disclosure agreement to address the controversy over the new movie, Moana, and its merchandise.

1) On Appropriation

Disney, like everyone else in the world, loves and desires all things Polynesian, from our hypnotic hair to our sculptural bodies, from our seductive tattoos to our lovely hula hands. While it is true that Disney appropriates our culture, we can’t blame them. Disney is simply a hapless victim of our Polynesian spell.

2) On the Skin Suit Costume

When we look in the mirror and see our single estate chocolate skin and meaningful tattoos, we exclaim: “Hooooooooo, who wouldn’t overthrow a kingdom to get a piece of this brown sugar!” Yet when we look at haoles at the beach, we exclaim: “Hoooooooo, white privilege ain’t worth having to wear that old world skin!” The Polynesian costume was meant to make haoles more attractive to look at, even if for just one day of the year.

3) On Cultural Representation

There’s already a long history of offensive Polynesian misrepresentations, from Tiki kitsch to pineapple ham pizza—so what harm will a few more do?

Plus, most of these misrepresentations are not intentional. In fact, they can easily be explained by the allure of our Polynesian mysteriousness. We form secret societies, speak in complex riddles, and tell stories using “kaona,” or hidden meanings, and even insist on using our Polynesian language without translating. We believe legends are history, myths are truths, and genealogies are epics. Is it any wonder that no one on the outside of Polynesia can understand us?

We especially can’t expect haoles, who are a simple and monolingual people, to accurately depict our complexity. And we can’t stop haoles from making movies about us, because once they have their mind set on something, we know they can’t stop. It’s like their manifest destiny or something.

That’s why Polynesian cultural consultants are so necessary. And that’s why the motto of Poly Face LLC is: “Consult us before you insult us.”

4) On Body Image

If you are a skinny Polynesian, your family will be ashamed of you because the whole village will whisper about your anorexia, bulemia, or irritable bowel syndrome behind your backs at church. This is why Polynesian families pressure you to eat. On the other hand, if you are just a regular-sized Polynesian, all of the non-Polynesians around you will think you’re fat anyway. Your doctor will shame you for being “grotesquely obese” because your BMI is too high, even if you are just big-boned. So, you may as well REALLY be fat and eat until you pass out or gas out at the all-you-can-eat lūʻau, hangi, and umu.

For too long, Polynesian body image has been stuck between The Rock and a diabetic place. It’s time for us to stop being ashamed of our bodies and embrace the positive images Disney has given us. The two characters, Moana and Maui, help us to overcome all this shame because they accurately represent and celebrate the reality and multiplicity of the Polynesian body. Besides, a character like Moana helps Polynesian families to save money because little girls will strive to eat less. #kanakasnack. And being like Maui wouldn’t be seen as fat-shaming, but as fat-FAMING! #morecushionforthepushing

5) On Merchandise

Some say the plastic merchandise will betray the environmental message of the movie. We disagree. These plastic toys will actually provide many learning opportunities. Once our kids get bored with the toys, we can take them to the ocean and throw the little Moanas and Mauis into the water. We can explain to our children how the plastic will break down into smaller pieces, how fish will mistake these plastic pieces for food, how the fish will be caught by super trawlers and sold in supermarkets, how we will eat the fish for dinner, digest it, flush it down the toilet, and how our waste will return once again to the ocean. This is a Polynesian culture-based approach to teach the anthropogenic hydrologic cycle.

The educational opportunities don’t stop there. We can teach our keiki the concept of irony: Maui is a fisherman, but he may become fish food; Moana is named for the ocean, but she is actually destroying it. We can also teach them about our gods. Plastic is immortal so what better material to make Maui out of?  This new idolatry could also really help our Polynesian religion conversion rates—which, let’s face it, have been fairly low since the 18th century, when the missionaries brought their superstar Jesus to corner the soul market.

Lastly, we can teach our keiki about navigating ocean currents. All the little Moanas and Mauis will ride the currents and navigate to the Pacific garbage patch island, their own ancestral homeland, their plastic Hawaiki/Savaiʻi/Kahiki, to find their brethren and live happily ever after!

6) On Collaboration

We like to think about our collaboration with Disney as expressing native “agency.” And our exceptional agency will lead directly to the “sovereignty” of our Polynesian nation. You’re welcome.

If we did not collaborate and join the Oceanic Story Trust, Disney would have just asked other Polynesians. Because the sovereignty of our lahui is at stake, our agency would not allow us to take that risk. Think about it: what if they asked Uncle Kimo, who thinks Heineken is a traditional Polynesian elixir, Spam is a traditional crop, that the Toyota Tacoma was based on traditional canoe design, and that a Polynesian invented football using the coconut as a ball.

Or worse, what if they asked Aunty Haunani or Aunty Hope, who would’ve told them to go to hell—and then where would we be? No movie, no nothing for us to talk and argue about, no nothing for our kids to watch, no nothing to buy for our kids. Nothing to do but watch the same old Hawaiʻi 5-0 and Blue Hawaiʻi.

7) On Selling Out

Yes, we got paid thousands of dollars as consultants, but we didn’t make any profit. First, we had to buy a new company car: a Toyota Tacoma. We had to pay to get it lifted to an illegal height and get the illegal tinting. And we had to pay to get it a traditional tātau paint job. Plus, we had to pay for all of the tickets from the cops who don’t recognize our sovereignty over our trucks! #mobilesovereignty #defendmytruck

Whatever money we had left went back into our community through “Trickle-Down Poly-Economics,” the traditional Polynesian sharing economy. Trickle-Down Poly-Economics works like this: You go to your cousin and pay him to pimp out your truck, then he calls your other cousins, your aunties and uncles, all your exes and kids, and all of their cousins, aunties, uncles, exes, and kids. When all your relatives learn that you got paid, they suddenly need money for food, rent, medical bills, etc. You can’t say no because ʻohana means family, and family means no one is left behind.

Well, at least Disney also gave us a free 5-night stay at Aulani Resort. The keiki loved the pool, and we loved all the native artwork, which Disney must have sprinkled some magic onto because when you looked at the art really closely, you could feel the Polynesian agency. As we stared at the Polynesian agency, it carried us into a transcendent moment of pure sovereignty, and we could not help but give each unnamed artist a slow clap.

Aulani also has an authentic loʻi kālā—oops, we mean, loʻi kalo.

8) On Academia

Polynesian academics (and non-Polynesian academics who wish they were Polynesian academics) think they are chiefly scholars because they have Ph.D.s and teach at fancy universities. The truth is that they are inauthentic culture bearers because their knowledge of being Polynesian has been corrupted and degraded by years of reading books. We are an oral people and our authentic knowledge is only gained through direct oral transmission from our authentic talking elders (or, from YouTube and television).

Their Ph.Ds also tend to make them really paranoid and predispose them to always assume the worst about colonialism and corporations. They have forgotten all of the fun things that colonialism and corporations have given all of us, including ice cream, apps, Taylor Swift, mai tais, Nike spandex, edible condoms, vampire romances, McDonalds, Santa Claus, Heineken, medical marijuana, Christianity in general, Mormonism specifically, and Spam.

To be real: all these Polynesian academics are just jealous that they weren’t invited to be part of the Oceanic Story Trust, and their criticisms of Disney are simply misplaced anger. As the Polynesian parable goes, “Beware of Polynesians who were not invited aboard the white man’s cruise ship, but were forced to stay on their own little canoes.”

9) On Boycott

We will boycott anyone who boycotts this movie. The 21st century is America’s Pacific Century, and we Polynesians should be grateful that Disney chose us to represent the whole Pacific. Disney is the new Gauguin and the new Cook because they really put us on the map. We estimate that someone needs to discover us at least every 100 years so we aren’t forgotten peoples.

Polynesians should be grateful to Disney because if they did not make Moana, then we would continue to be invisible like those other Pacific Islanders. Is that what you want? To be Chamorro?!

Polynesians, let us stand proud in our Olympic coconut oil shine as the rest of the Pacific fades away and disappears into obscurity (and less marketable colonial regimes).

10) On Reputation

The reputation of Polynesia as a paradise has been tarnished with all of the homelessness, gangs, drugs, obesity, diabetes, suicides, loss of culture, and environmental degradation we hear endlessly about. Things have gotten so bad that the U.S. Department of the Interior is planning to downgrade Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) to “Indians.” Oh, how the mighty Polynesians have fallen!

Thus, we should thank Disney for trying to improve our Polynesian reputation, to hide our problems beneath stories about our glory days, and to make our culture more appropriate for children. Disney, like Maui, like Cook, like Gauguin, like Obama, will make Polynesia great again!

Now let’s all do the haka together!

Upcoming October Performances

October 4th, 2016

Georgetown University

Seminar: 5:30 pm

Reading: 8:00 pm

Washington DC

Poetry Reading with Don Mee Choi

Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice


October 7th, 2016


Brigham Young University

Provo, UT

The Archipelagoes, Oceans, Americas Symposium

Poetry Reading: Craig Santos Perez


October 7th, 2016

4:30 pm

Brigham Young University

Provo, UT

The Archipelagoes, Oceans, Americas Symposium

Keynote Speaker: Craig Santos Perez, “Territorial Struggles in the New Oceania”


October 8th, 2016


Woodland Pattern Book Center

Milwaukee, WI

Poetry Reading: Craig Santos Perez & Garrett Caples


October 9th, 2016


Woodland Pattern Book Center

Milwaukee, WI

Poetry Workshop: Craig Santos Perez, The Poetics of Food, Culture, and the Environment,

100 Healing Rituals for Chamorros Suffering from Homesickness and Diaspora

This poem is dedicated to every Chamorro child whose left our islands because their parents decided to migrate. This is for every Chamorro who migrated because they lost their job, their land, their house, their faith that things would get better for them. This is for every Chamorro who migrated because they were drafted and/or enlisted into the military. This is for every Chamorro family who moved from base to base because family is just as important as geography. This is for every Chamorro who is deployed far away from their family, may you return home safely and be re-united soon. This is for every Chamorro who migrated for health care, who left because they couldn’t afford to keep traveling back and forth for treatment. This is for every Chamorro who migrated for college, who returned home for the holidays, who excitedly waited for graduation to return home to their families. This is for every Chamorro graduate student writing a thesis or dissertation on Chamorro identity and migration. This is for every Chamorro author writing a novel or poem or song about being off-island Chamorro. This is for every Chamorro who was born in the states, who only know our home islands from pictures and stories told to them by their parents or grandparents who migrated long ago. This is for every Chamorro who migrated for love, who stayed in the states for love. This is for every Chamorro family who can’t afford the plane tickets to take their whole family home for a funeral. This is for every Chamorro family who only hear their parents or grandparents voice over the phone. This is for every Chamorro family who knows that they will never return home to live, that they will always live with their bodies in one place and their hearts in another. This is for every Chamorro who’s still trying to figure out where they belong. This is for every Chamorro who no longer has relatives back home. This is for every Chamorro who returns home only to find that all their friends from the old days have passed away. This is for every Chamorro who has lost touch with their friends and family back home. This is for every Chamorro who wonders what life would have been like if you stayed, if your parents stayed, if your grandparents stayed. This is for every Chamorro who wonders if you will be welcomed home, find a job, be able to afford a house, find love, or find a purpose if you returned home tomorrow. This is for every Chamorro who is seeking out other Chamorros stateside. This is for every Chamorro who organizes and runs a Chamorro group to connect diasporic Chamorros to our culture, language, and people.

  1. Open a can of Spam. Follow your instincts home. 
  2. Make fina’denne and pour it over everything.
  3. Call your Chamorro grandparent(s) and ask them for a story about home.
  4. Read the Pacific Daily News online.
  5. YouTube Jesse Manibusan’s song “Forever Chamorro.” Sing along.
  6. Build an altar using shells, coral, postcards, photos, or other souvenirs.
  7. Call your Chamorro parent(s) and ask them for a story about home. 
  8. Read Guampedia online.
  9. Open a can of Vienna Sausages and a can of Budweiser. Call that dinner.
  10. Google Earth your village.
  11. YouTube Jesse Ruby’s song “Guam take me back.” Follow their voices home.
  12. Make kaddun pika, even if it’s hot outside.
  13. Explore the Chamorro Roots Genealogy Project. Follow this map home.
  14. Close your eyes and imagine the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen.
  15. Open a can of Corned Beef. Cook two eggs, any style. Eat with two scoops white rice, fina’denne, and Budweiser. Call that breakfast.
  16. Read Michael Lujan Bevacqua blog while eating breakfast.
  17. Lather coconut oil over everything.
  18. Read the Hale-ta Book Series. Follow your roots home
  19. Sport your Fokai, Crowns, or Magas apparel!
  20. Call your Chamorro godparent(s), and ask them for a story about home.
  21. Tell your non-Chamorrro friends taotaomo’na stories. Tell your Chamorro friends how your non-Chamorro friends don’t understand taotaomo’na stories.
  22. Read Faye Untalan’s “An Exploratory Study of Island Migrations: Chamorros of Guam” (1984).
  23. Buy the Chamorro-English dictionary on Amazon. Hold on to that moment when you open it for the first time.
  24. If you don’t speak Chamorro, learn a new word of our beautiful and endangered language everyday. Hold each word carefully, as if you were holding the last of our beautiful and endangered birds. 
  25. Youtube K.C. DeLeon Guerrero’s song, “Kustumbren Chamoru.” Dance your way home.
  26. Make red rice.
  27. In order to make red rice, you’ll need to buy achiote. Drive to the closest Asian grocery store. Look for Mama Sita’s powdered achiote from the Philippines, which comes in thin yellow packets. Remember your grandma’s red-stained hands after she harvested achiote seeds from her yard.
  28. Go to the nearest KFC and order red rice and fina’denne. Act surprised and disappointed when they give you a strange look.
  29. Read Tanya Taimanglo’s book Attitude 13.
  30. Go for a hike that ends in a waterfall. Close your eyes and call this place home.
  31. Chew the pugua you’ve been hoarding in the freezer.
  32. Buy a round-trip ticket home for a holidary, wedding, christening, graduation, or funeral. Worry about credit card debt later.
  33. Google “Legends of the Marianas.”
  34. Wear your Chamorro bracelets and let them clang like your grandma used to.
  35. Bump JD Crutch’s song “Bente Uno” really loud on your morning drive to work.
  36. Date a fellow diasporic Chamorro (make sure you aren’t related before going on a second date). Or date a non-Chamorro and enjoy the temporary pleasure of being exoticized.
  37. Listen to Dakot-ta Alcantara-Camacho’s song, “Where you From,” on his All Life is Sacred EP (which you can find on Soundcloud).
  38. Visit the Spam Musuem in Austin, Minnesota.
  39. After the Spam Museum, visit The Herbivorous Buthershop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the first ever vegan butchershop, which was founded by two diasporic Chamorros.
  40. Play bingo.
  41. Fanginge’ every Chamorro elder you meet. 
  42. YouTube Island Trybe’s, “Blow ya Mynd.” Lowride your way home!
  43. Wear your Sinahi everywhere.
  44. Read any book by Peter Onedera.
  45. Get a Latte stone or plumeria tattoo.
  46. Read Robert Underwood’s essay, “Excursions into Inauthenticity: The Chamorros of Guam.” (1985).
  47. YouTube Erica Nalani Benton’s song, “Back to Guahan.” Replay your way home.
  48. Buy a Chamorro language children’s book and imagine your parents reading this book to you when you were a child.
  49. When someone asks, “Where are you from?” Point to the empty space on the map and say, “I’m from this invisible island.”
  50. Cha-cha-cha everywhere.
  51. Youtube Melvin Won Pat Borja’s poem, “No Deal.” 
  52. Recite the “Inifresi.”
  53. Drive to the nearest military base. Close your eyes and imagine Angel Santos and the entire Chamoru Nation flying over the barbed-wire fence.
  54. Just Tabasco everything.
  55. Read Michael Perez’s essays “Pacific Identities Beyond US Racial Formation: The Case of Chamorro Ambivalence and Flux” (2002).
  56. YouTube Jesse Bais’s song, “Guam on my Mind.”
  57. Make chicken kelaguen.
  58. In order to make chicken kelaguen, you must first buy a coconut. Drive to the nearest Asian grocery store. Crack open the coconut at home only to find that it is completely rotted inside. Drive back to the grocery store with your machete. Get into an argument with the Asian owner, who won’t exchange the coconut. Go back to your car and get the machete. Walk back into the produce aisle of the store. Crack open the coconuts until you find a good one. Pay for the coconut, machete in hand. Say, “Keep the change.” Drive off like the most bad ass islander who’s ever lived in an American suburb.
  59. Blame it on the cha-cha-cha.
  60. Buy a round-trip ticket home for no reason. Worry about credit card debt later.
  61. Eat at the Chamorro restaurant and/or food truck that opened in your area. Try not to ruin the meal by comparing the food to your parents or grandparents cooking.
  62. Recite the novena in Chamorro using the rosary your grandma gave you at the airport. If you can’t say the novena in Chamorro, YouTube “Chamorro rosary.”
  63. Read Vicente Diaz’s book, Repositioning the Missionary.
  64. Give chenchule’ every chance you get.
  65. Watch the Muña brothers documentary Talent Town.
  66. Cook Calrose rice. Use your fingers to measure. When you smell the rice steaming, close your eyes and call this home.
  67. Get your clan name tattooed across your back.
  68. Youtube Jack Lujan’s song “Inifresi.” 
  69. Wear your “Prutehi yan Difendi” t-shirt.
  70. Close your eyes and remember the last time you hiked to Pågat. 
  71. Place a Guam or CNMI Seal sticker on your truck and drive on the freeway until another diasporic Chamorro spots you.
  72. Visit the Waikiki Spam Jam in Honolulu, Oahu.
  73. Read Keith Camacho’s book Cultures of Commemoration. Remember what your ancestors survived.
  74. Tell yourself that you will return one day, you just have a few more things to take care of out here.
  75. YouTube Flora Baza Quan’s song “Hagu.” Hail the Queen of Chamorro music!
  76. Go to the closest zoo that houses a Micronesian Kingfisher. Tell the bird, “Soon it’ll be safe enough to return.”
  77. Attend the nearest Liberation Day party, which you can locate using the website.
  78. Read my poetry books (no refunds)!
  79. YouTube Chamorro Mixed Martial Arts fighters Jon Tuck, Frank “The Crank” Camacho, “Baby Joe” Taimanglo, and Pat Ayuyu. Fight your way home.
  80. Call any one of your Chamorro aunties and uncles. Be thankful to your grandparent(s) for having so many children so that there’ll always be someone to give you a story about home.
  81. Learn how to craft a kulo’. Blow the kulo’ everywhere.
  82. Read Jesi Lujan Bennett’s MA thesis, “Apmam Tiempo Ti Uli’e Hit (Long Time No See): Chamorro Diaspora and the TransPacific Home.”
  83. Youtube Jesse Bais’s song “Uno Hit.” Remember that off-island and on-island Chamorros are one! 
  84. Get “Dandan I Paneretas” stuck in your head all December and air stick dance with an imaginary partner.
  85. Attend the nearest Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception.
  86. BBQ everything.
  87. YouTube “Malafunkshun.” Laugh your way home.
  88. Look at your American dollar bills. Find the word, “Gumataotao.”
  89. Read Lehua Taitano’s poetry book, A Bell Made of Stones.
  90. Wear zoris everywhere.
  91. YouTube episodes of Nihi! online and imagine watching them with your parents when you were a child.
  92. Buy a one-way ticket home.
  93. Youtube Johnny Sablan’s song, “Nobia Nene.” Dance with someone you love.
  94. Remember that migration flows through our blood and this is just another stop on our epic itinerary.
  95. Join the nearest Chamorro, Marianas, Sons and Daughters of Guam, or Hafa Adai Club in your state. If there are none, start your own Chamorro club in your church, community center, military base, high school, or university.
  96. Attend the Chamorro Cultural Festival in San Diego. Call this gathering home.
  97. Build a Guma’ Chamorro in Balboa Park.
  98. Shout, “I exist! I exist! I exist!”
  99. Whisper, “mahalang,” the only word built to carry all this longing.
  100. Drive to the ocean. Take off your zoris and step into the salt water. Return your tears to the sea, where they belong. Close your eyes, and call your body home.

I’m teaching an online workshop!


Sign up now! Tuition is $750 ($650 of which is tax-deductible) and is fully donated to Omnidawn Publishing, a 501(c)(3) fiscally sponsored project of the 2430 Arts Alliance.

Some partial scholarships available. Write to Rusty Morrison regarding this.

All applications due by Saturday, January 2 on a first come, first served basis.
Class limit: 10
Decisions will be made by January 5th
Tuition due by Tues January 5th

Craig Santos Perez will be leading an online workshop: Culture, Food, Politics, and Ecology, to benefit Omnidawn Publishing.

The meeting times are every Sunday, 10a-12p pst, for 5 weeks,
from Jan 10, 2016 – Feb 7, 2016.

Each week, for the first 20 minutes of class, there will be one guest poet. They will will share their experiences in writing poetry in relation to that week’s subject, that week’s realms of relation.

The five weeks’ subjects & guests will be

Jan 10: Ecopoetics: Angela Hume

Jan 17: Writing culture, writing family: Terrance Hayes

Jan 24: Writing poetry of witness: Myung Mi Kim

Jan 31: Writing food and sustenance : Ewa Chrusciel

Feb 7: Writing with documentary source texts: Camille Dungy

Rusty Morrison, Omnidawn’s co-publisher, will be an active member of the class each week, as support to Craig, and as another voice engaging in the exciting conversations.

We will begin with an interactive conversation/presentation from the guest poet. Guests will speak casually, with candor, sharing ideas, insights, challenges regarding this aspect of their writing. Guests may be reading some writing/poetry of theirs that aligns with the week’s arena of thought–in order to talk about the generation of that writing in this context.

After the guest poet is finished, Craig will give a presentation on the week’s topic, and the poets who are students in the class will participate in an engaging conversation with Craig about that week’s ideational landscape.

Then Craig will lead a workshop discussion of a poem from each of the class members. Rusty will also contribute to this discussion. Craig is an amazing teacher: serious, friendly, knowledgable, deft at offering sharp acuity and compassionate insight into the poems workshopped.

The tuition is $750 ($650 of which is tax-deductible). All proceeds go to Omnidawn Publishing, a 501(c)(3) fiscally sponsored project of the 2430 Arts Alliance.

To apply for the class:
please send a five page packet of poems to both Rusty Morrison at & Craig Santos Perez by January 2nd. Decisions will be made by January 5th. Tuition is due on January 5th.

Omnidawn Publishing is very grateful to Craig Santos Perez and to all of the poets who are donating their time to this workshop.