T Kira Madden on Centering Pacific Island Voices
This Week on the Reading Women Podcast
In this week’s episode, Kendra and Sachi discuss Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen and Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls. Plus, special guest T Kira Madden recommends two books by Native Hawaiian authors.
From the episode:
T Kira: As you so beautifully articulated already in the podcast, Pacific Island voices are so often missed in these lists. They’re not as widely accessible. It’s true. But it’s not that Pacific Islander people have not been writing. It’s that their stories may have not been platformed in traditional ways before now. So it feels like an honor and a privilege to read these stories and the poems of these writers. I think there’s a misconception that maybe those of the Pacific or Indigenous people only have oral storytelling. That’s just one part of our storytelling. There is certainly written storytelling as well. And these books are here.
So it feels like a responsibility to me to read, not only in a decolonial way, of these islands and of these peoples, but also the sheer language beyond the story, the reverence of the natural world, the reverence of the Pacific and the people who inhabit these islands in the largest nation in the world, as Epeli Hau’ofa would say. I just feel that Pacific Islander writers have been largely overlooked, not only by mainlanders, but I mean myself as a hapa haole writer. I’ve always looked in other directions for what had been considered high literature, when really the literature was right in front of me all along.
T Kira Madden is an APIA writer, photographer, and amateur magician. She is the founding editor in chief of No Tokens, and facilitates writing workshops for homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals. A 2017 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in nonfiction literature, she has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Tin House, DISQUIET, Summer Literary Seminars, and Yaddo, where she was selected for the 2017 Linda Collins Endowed Residency Award. She lives in New York City and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.