Isle Pages
New Releases
by Hawaii Authors

"Before the City:
Collected Poems
& Prose Poems"

by Kirby Wright
(Lemon Shark Press, $9.95)

I have to admit I don't understand the subhead -- some of the poems are "collected" and the others are "prose"?

That aside, the words that spill out of Hawaii-born, Punahou graduate Wright tend to seize you right by the lapels. Slam bam!

The "prose" selections are like rambling liner notes for an art-rock project, fascinating while accompanied by music, but vanish when the needle is lifted. The more formal "poems" are punchier, and in their spareness have greater power to goose the imagination. Some are award winners, such as "Aloha, Liliuokalani," and all show an eye for detail and weight, although there's a weakness for the first-person. Wright is having an author signing this week, see the details at right.

"An Eye In My Navel:
An Asian Immigrant's Voice"

by Jovita Rodas
(self-published, price unknown)

Rodas has been a persistant gadabout covering the Filipino scene in the islands, and here she has collected a number of her favorite essays on the subject.

This time Rodas has largely turned inward, writing stream-of-consciousness pieces that tie together the politics of convenience, the dislocation of shifting cultures and the edgy dynamics of marriage. The most affecting passages deal with her return to the Philippines and about the way she and her homeland grew in different directions.

There's a lot of insight, plus a streak of melancholy and a bit of anger here as well. Unfortunately, as a bound collection of dot-matrix printouts, the typography isn't nearly as polished as it could be. Don't let that put you off.

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