Bamboo Ridge: Four Voices in Renshi – Revisiting the Massie Affair

Authors Pavilion
Sunday May 6, 1:00 pm

Christy Passion, Ann Inoshita, Juliet S. Kono, and Jean Yamasaki Toyama read selections from their linked poetry on the Massie Affair at 1:00 p.m., Sunday, May 6, 2012, in the Authors Pavilion at the Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival.Introduction by Dr. John Rosa, author of the upcoming book Local Story: The Massie/Kahahawai Case and the Politics of History in Hawai‘i.

The Massie Case obsessed all of America in the early 1930s and remains one of the most controversial events in Hawai‘i history. The case highlighted racial conflicts between locals and recently arrived haoles (military personnel, government representatives, and the territorial haole elite).

On September 12, 1931, Thalia Massie, wife of Naval officer Thomas Massie, was allegedly assaulted and raped in Waikīkī by five local men. What followed were two notorious trials that threatened to undermine the delicate racial balance of the Territory of Hawai‘i. When a mistrial was declared and the five local men accused of the assault were set free, Lt. Massie, Thalia’s mother Grace Fortescue, and two enlisted men kidnapped and murdered one of the defendants, Joseph Kahahawai. Arrested and charged with manslaughter, the four haole defendants were represented by the famous lawyer Clarence Darrow. When they were found guilty of manslaughter, Territorial Governor Lawrence Judd commuted their sentences to one hour served in his company.

In August 2011, eighty years after the Massie Affair, four poets—Christy Passion, Ann Inoshita, Juliet S. Kono, and Jean Yamasaki Toyama—began their second online collaboration, writing and posting renshi, linked verse, on the Bamboo Ridge Press website. The first series of renshi that these four worked on, a full year of linked poetry in celebration of Bamboo Ridge’s 30th anniversary in 2008, was published as the critically acclaimed collection, No Choice but to Follow.

Ann Inoshita was born and raised on O‘ahu. She has published poems in Bamboo Ridge, Hawai‘i Pacific Review, and Tinfish. Her book of poems, Mānoa Stream, was published by Kahuaomānoa Press in 2007. She has an M.A. in English from UHM and currently teaches at Kapi‘olani Community College.

Juliet S. Kono is the author of three award-winning books, two poetry collections, Hilo Rains and Tsunami Years, and a short story collection, Ho‘olulu Park and the Pepsodent Smile. She is the recipient of both the Hawai‘i Award for Literature and the Elliot Cades Award. Born and raised in Hilo, she lives in Honolulu with her husband and teaches at Leeward Community College.

Christy Passion was born and raised on O‘ahu and has published both poetry and short fiction in Bamboo Ridge, Hawai‘i Pacific Review, and the anthology Honolulu Stories. Her poetry has won both local and national awards, including the James Vaughan Award, The Atlanta Review International Merit Award, and the Academy of American Poetry Award. She works as a critical care nurse at the Queen’s Medical Center.

Jean Yamasaki Toyama is a poet, scholar, translator, and writer of fiction. She is emerita professor of French at UHM, where she taught and was associate dean of the College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature. She lives in Hawai‘i where she was born and raised.

John Rosa is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His research focuses mostly on the social and cultural history of twentieth-century Hawai‘i and the histories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. He has published articles on teaching the history of Hawai‘i, about “local” identity, and the history of “mixed-race” studies. His book Local Story: The Massie/Kahahawai Case and the Politics of History in Hawai‘i is under contract with University of Hawai‘i Press.

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