Journal’s institute
set for October

By Gary C.W. Chun

Try write! That's the rallying cry for the Bamboo Ridge Writers Institute in October. Early registration has been extended to Sept. 15, which is also the deadline for submissions to a special issue of Bamboo Ridge's literary journal celebrating the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Koreans to the islands.

Poet and teacher Brenda Kwon attended last year's institute with some of her Iolani School students and is back to help coordinate the Korean centennial issue, which will feature the writing of those born, raised or living here who are of Korean descent.

Kwon now teaches at Honolulu Community College and expects some of her current students to be as inspired as she and her Iolani students were last year. "For students to be in a community of writers, it was overwhelming. They met people who actually made a life choice to write, besides holding full-time jobs and that was inspirational. ...

"Of those students who attended, 75 percent are going on to major in creative writing in college," said Kwon, who was herself a creative writing major at the University of Southern California.

Michael Little, this year's winner of Honolulu magazine's fiction contest and a romance novelist, also will return, this time on the planning committee and as a moderator/reader at the open-mic session. Coincidentally, he attended a panel last year about writing for the magazine competition.

"The institute brings together the best local writers," he said. "It gives a sense of community and achieving success closer to home. The featured writers made themselves available, sharing and teaching, over the days of the institute. I think we would be lost without it."

Poet and "Hybolics" co-editor Carrie Takahata also will be back as moderator for the "Neo-Local Literature" panel. She said she felt "disconnected from the local literature community, and wanted to reconnect and be reinvigorated."

She attended a master workshop led by Cathy Song who "gave us exercises, developing tools to have when we wrote on our own," Takahata said. "I still use one of them, where you take a moment in your life and pick out key, descriptive words. It helps me get started and I've been writing more frequently."

Gay Satsuma, associate director of the Center for Japanese Studies, attended Lois-Ann Yamanaka's workshop last year.

"We read through each other's (writing) samples and Lois-Ann and the other students gave us feedback. Believe it or not, the process was not painful! Lois-Ann provided constructive comments on all of our samples.

"And you would be surprised at the budding talent within that room. We had three teachers; one was in the process of writing a novel, another was a short-story writer, and the third was a poet who whipped out a moving poem a few minutes before our afternoon workshop."

Bamboo Ridge Writers Institute

Place: University of Hawaii at Manoa Campus Center
Dates: Oct. 25 and 26
Registration fees: $75 ($55 before Sept. 15), $55 for members, $40 for students; master workshops are an additional $50
Call: 626-1481, or email
Note: Some student scholarships available. Call for application forms.

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