For this episode of It’s Lit, we featured curses and blessings for 2019 as we prepare to enter the dark waters of the new year. With fourteen featured writers, this episode contains lit and music curated by authors Lyz Soto, Brandon Igarta, No‘u Revilla, Julia Katz, Rajiv Mohabir, Cory Lovejoy, Margo Steines, Naazneen Diwan, Jordan Luz, Lisa Stice, Chaun Ballard, Craig Santos Perez, Ashley Nakanishi, and Jocelyn Kapumealani Ng! ✨🙏🏾🎉💀✨💀🎉🙏🏾 Enjoy!
- Lyz Soto’s “Curses and Blessings” (clean) + Janelle Monáe’s “Tightrope” Lyz Soto is a performance poet of Visayan, Ilocano, Hakka, German, English, French, and Spanish descent. She was a long-time mentor with the award-winning youth poetry program Youth Speaks Hawaiʻi. Her Bodies of Stories, a spoken arts theater show directed by Grace Taylor, debuted at the Doris Duke Theater in Honolulu in December 2016. Her book Translate Sun/Son/Sum, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. She recently completed her PhD at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
- Brandon Igarta’s “New Year’s Resolutions” + HAEVN’s “The Sea” Brandon Igarta is still figuring out where they belong in this world. This journey has led them from their childhood roots in Cincinnati, Ohio, to their ancestral home of Hawaiʻi, and all the nooks and crannies in between. When not doing schoolwork, Brandon is obsessing over Dungeons and Dragons, trying unconventional recipes, or acting as a jungle gym for the family bird Clementine.
- No‘u Revilla’s “The Ea of Enough” + Ms. Lauryn Hill’s “Feeling Good” Noʻu Revilla is an Indigenous queer poet & educator of Hawaiian and Tahitian descent. She was born & raised on the island of Maui and currently lives & loves on Oʻahu. Her poetry has been published by Literary Hub, The Missing Slate, Black Renaissance Noir, and Poetry magazine. She has performed throughout Hawaiʻi as well as in Canada, Papua New Guinea, and the United Nations. Her chapbook Say Throne was published in 2011 with Tinfish Press. She teaches at the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa and will defend her dissertation in the spring.
- Julia Katz’s “Pennies” + Karen O and the Kids’s “Hideaway” Julia Katz comes from coolie Korean settlers who worked sugarcane in Wahiawa and Russian Jewish refugees who peddled silk in Paterson. Neither sweet nor smooth, she writes poems about G-d and gay love. She received her doctorate in history from Rutgers University and has published work in Pacific Historical Review, Imagining Asia in the Americas, and LIES: A Journal of Materialist Feminism. Born in the Bay Area, she belongs above all to her two sisters.
- Julia Katz’s “Noonim & the Ghost” + Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon”
- Rajiv Mohabir’s “Curse for the English Language” + Bonnie Raitt and John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” Rajiv Mohabir is a person who wishes he were here to see the whales and hear the crash of the north shore swells. He’s trusting that one day there will be a space for him once again there with such beauty.
- Cory Lovejoy’s “Man Alive” + Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” Cory Lovejoy is a person who lives on Lānaʻi. Writing in the forms of short stories and poetry started for her in high school, and had been dormant in for her for many years until she picked it up again as a coping mechanism for depression. She is also an avid listener to sad songs and a creator of bags from vintage Hawaii fabrics. For a copy of her zines click here. Learn more about her on Instagram: @lovejoylanai
- Margo Steines’s excerpt from “A Very Brutal Game” + Wu Tang Clan’s “Lyrical Swords–Instrumental” Margo Steines is a native New Yorker, journeyman ironworker, and writer based in Honolulu. Her work has appeared in december, Tits and Sass, and The New York Times. She lives in Tucson and is pursing an MFA in creative nonfiction at the University of Arizona.
- Naazneen Diwan’s “Unmet Potential” + Goapele’s “Closer” Look out for Naazneen Diwan’s current project, a book collaboration with her painter father called 99 Names. You can connect with her and more of her work via her site, www.naazneendiwan.com or her IG handle: naazneenerd
- Jordan Luz, “shi-shi on da bachroom floor” + The White Stripes’s “We’re Going to Be Friends” Jordan Luz recently earned his MA from UH Mānoa’s Department of English and is currently a first-year writing instructor at the same institution. He was born and raised on the island of Oʻahu and has always had an interest in local literature of Hawaiʻi. However, he has only recently stepped into the realm of creative writing and considers himself a novice-plus at it. “shi shi on da bachroom floor” was also recently published in the latest issue of Cirque.
- Lisa Stice, “Such Is the Art of Warfare” + The Tossers’s “Caoin” Lisa Stice is a poet/mother/military spouse. She is the author of two full-length collections, Permanent Change of Station (Middle West Press, 2018) and Uniform (Aldrich Press, 2016), and a chapbook, Desert (Prolific Press). While it is difficult to say where home is, she currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, daughter and dog. You can learn more about her and her publications at lisastice.wordpress.com
- Chaun Ballard, “To The Icarus Of Pieter Brueghel’s Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus” + Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” Raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and San Bernardino, California, Chaun Ballard is an affiliate editor for Alaska Quarterly Review and a Callaloo fellow. He received his BA from the University of Hawaii at Hilo and is graduate of the MFA Program at the University of Alaska, Anchorage where he is also an adjunct professor. Chaun Ballard’s chapbook, Flight, is the winner of the 2018 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize and is published by Tupelo Press. You can connect with Chaun via Facebook or at chaunballard.com
- Craig Santos Perez, “Praise Song for Oceania” + Mos Def’s “New World Water” (explicit) Dr. Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamoru (Chamorro) from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam). He is a poet, scholar, editor, publisher, essayist, critic, book reviewer, artist, environmentalist, and activist. Craig works as an Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, where he teaches creative writing, eco-poetry, and Pacific literature. He is affiliate faculty with the Center of Pacific Islands Studies and the Indigenous Politics Program.
- Ashley Nakanishi’s “A Love Poem for Medusa” + Dead Prez’s “Mind Sex” (explicit) Ashley Nakanishi is an Uchinna poet, actress, playwright, and human rights activist based out of Hawaii. She travels to prisons, detention centers, and domestic violence action centers nationally to teach poetry as a means of therapy. She currently teaches English/Philosophy at Honolulu Youth Correctional Facility. Her book Blood, Sweat, and Breastmilk (Pueo Press, 2016) is available online. Her two books, titled “She Crazy” and “The Last Sakura,” are coming out next year.
- Jocelyn Kapumealani Ng’s “Venus in Retrograde” + Berhana’s “Grey Luh” (explicit) Jocelyn Kapumealani Ng is a queer multidisciplinary artist, educator, community organizer of mixed Kanaka Maoli descent who was born and raised on the island of Oʻahu. She is also the cohostiest of It’s Lit!