Lehua Taitano's work investigates queer indigeneity, decolonization, and cultural identity in the context of diaspora. In this conversation, Lehua delves into the oceanic world of her poetry collection, "Inside Me an Island," where matters of family, story, identity, voice, song, and bicycle mechanics come to light.
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About the Book:
Inside Me an Island is a collection of the sediment of displacement, re-placement, and imagined arrival. With one eye focused (inwardly) on an island homeland, the other roving the natural world for what resembles home, Taitano investigates the push and pull of queer migratory belonging. For the indigenous islander living in diaspora, constructing identity in neocolonial America requires conjuring wholeness from fragments. Transoceanic and transcontinental, subterranean and aerial, these poems sift the waters, from shore to reservoir.
"From a diasporic Chamoru perspective, there's an irreconcilable difference between island and mainland, and between the expanses of California and the accidents of the psychic archipelago, but Taitano's poetics works by queering that distance, by finding the homology in difference, by embracing the synaesthetic intimacies of landscape...As with other Chamoru and Pacific poetics, Taitano's work evinces a strong eco-poetic dimension, especially with regard to the intersections between environmental and colonial violence..."- Urayoàn Noel, author of Buzzing Hemisphere/Rumor Hemisférico
About the Author:
Lehua M. Taitano is a queer CHamoru writer and interdisciplinary artist from Yigu, Guåhan (Guam) and co-founder of Art 25: Art in the Twenty-fifth Century. She is the author of two volumes of poetry—Inside Me an Island (WordTech Editions) and A Bell Made of Stones (TinFish Press). Her chapbook, appalachiapacific, won the Merriam-Frontier Award for short fiction. She has two recent chapbooks of poetry and visual art: Sonoma (Dropleaf Press) and Capacity (a Hawai'i Review e-chap).
Her poetry, essays, and Pushcart Prize-nominated fiction have appeared in World Literature Today, The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, Poetry, Fence, Arc Poetry Magazine, Kartika Review, Red Ink International Journal, and numerous others. She is the recipient of a 2019 Eliza So Fellowship and the 2019 Summer Poet-in-Residence at The Poetry Center at The University of Arizona.
She has served as an APAture Featured Literary Artist via Kearny Street Workshop, a Kuwentuhan poet via The Poetry Center at SFSU, and as a Culture Lab visual artist and curatorial advisor for the Smithsonian Institute's Asian Pacific American Center. Taitano's work investigates queer indigeneity, decolonization, and cultural identity in the context of diaspora.